What It Takes To Earn A Starbucks' Mortarboard Embroidered Apron

The next time you visit a Starbucks, pay special attention to the aprons each team member is wearing. While you may be accustomed to seeing the matching green uniforms move about the brand's stores, you may not have noticed the unique emblems and designs sewn into their fabric. Though forest green aprons have become a familiar sight at Starbucks locations worldwide, black aprons were introduced in the early 1990s to indicate team members with advanced experience and knowledge in coffee and coffee-making. Since then, variations on the Starbucks apron have come to signify exceptional achievements, notable occasions, and categories of workers such as veterans and deaf people. 

One unique uniform represents Starbucks team members who have completed the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, an opportunity to support Starbucks workers pursuing degrees in higher education. These unique aprons are embroidered with mortarboards to signify the successful completion of the sponsored education program and a completed degree.

Recognizing academic achievement

The Starbucks College Achievement Plan covers 100% of tuition fees for Starbucks employees who demonstrate both eligibility and drive to enter and complete a degree program. The opportunity began in 2014, and over 6,500 Starbucks employees — called partners by the business — have earned bachelor's degrees from Arizona State University. "Starbucks gave me a second chance to try and get to my goals," one program graduate said.

What has come to symbolize academic success — the picture of a graduation cap — is printed on aprons to recognize the participants' dedication and commitment to education. As employees of the company, Starbucks team members can use the College Achievement Plan scholarship and tuition benefits to subsidize the cost of their chosen degrees. For veterans, one additional family member can also take part in the academic program, earn a degree from Arizona State University, and graduate without the hassle of loans to pay later on. 

If you do spot a graduation cap printed on your barista's apron the next time you order a frappuccino, you can ask what your barista's degree is in.