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Sometimes a Cup is Just a Cup

By Katie Guzman
On December 6, 2015

It’s 60 degrees outside, the department store sales are in full swing and that gingerbread spice latte is back in stock. It can only mean one thing. The holidays are here.

Those festive red Starbucks cups are instantly recognizable but have been the object of some controversy lately. Since when does a cup cause such an uproar?

Since Starbucks unveiled its newly redesigned cups at the beginning of November.

The coffee giant changed its holiday cup design from festive trees and snowflakes to a minimal, all red cup. A statement from Starbucks Vice President Jerry Fields, explains that they want “to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories…Creating a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity…Starbucks will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.”

Some pundits and people are hailing it as “an affront to Christianity.” Some are even calling for a boycott of the coffee giant. One man, Joshua Feuerstein, went so far as to go to Starbucks order coffee. But instead of giving the barista his name he used the alias “Merry Christmas” to trick Starbucks into wishing him a Merry Christmas by writing it on his cup instead of his name.

Of all the things to be visibly upset about these days, minimalist design on coffee cups isn’t of those things.

Picture by: Jesus Ramos

Whatever happened to the idea that the spirit of the holiday is in your heart? Did the holiday spirit move to a coffee cup because the rent in your heart was too high?

But in all seriousness, the intention of Starbucks’ design is clear. Starbucks wants to be inclusive of a wide consumer base. Getting bent out of shape about inclusion is petty. According to an article in the 2014 Washington Post discussing the second largest religions by state, Christianity might be the most prevalent religion in the U.S but “Buddhists represent the largest non-Christian religious bloc in most states. In 20 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, Islam is the largest non-Christian faith tradition. And in 15 states, mostly in the Northeast, Judaism has the most followers after Christianity.” Inclusion is important not only as a business practice but as a general rule of life.

Personally, I am more concerned that some overly opinionated customers might use this cup as an excuse to berate the barista over something that is inconsequential and out of their control. As someone who did work in retail through the summer, being yelled at by a customer for something out of my control never feels great and it never improves the day. But people who are upset about this really need to calm down. In all honesty it’s just a cup, and it’s not like Starbucks, or any other store for that matter, is getting rid of any part of its plethora of Christmas themed merchandise.

So calm down and drink that gingerbread spice latte, it’s just a cup. But in case someone else tries to trick the coffee chain into wishing them a Merry Christmas, be prepared for your Starbucks name to be butchered into Marie Kristina if not something even more unintended like Maurice.

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