Just one week after Starbucks founder and former CEO Howard Schultz testified in front of Congress against allegations of the company’s union-busting, the Seattle-based coffee giant is having another busy week.
From Starbucks announcing updates on the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals, to finally packaging the Pink Drink for sale in retail stores, and the very honest reviews that have been rolling in about the Starbucks Oleato allegedly causing stomach aches, here are the top 5 Starbucks news bites you should know about this week:
Starbucks is bottling its social media-famous Pink Drink
The Starbucks Pink Drink was born out of a social media viral trend in 2016 and officially added to the menu in 2017 due to popular demand. Now, Starbucks is leaning into the popularity of the Strawberry Acai Refresher-coconut milk-based, Pepto Bismol-colored drink by bottling it.
Starbucks announced that the Pink Drink, along with a new beverage called the Paradise drink, will be hitting grocery and convenience stores in a ready-to-drink format for a suggested retail price of $3.67 per bottle. The bottled Pink Drink is made with strawberry, coconut milk, acai and fruit juice, while the Paradise Drink is made coconut milk, pineapple, passionfruit, and fruit juice.
Other new beverages added to the Starbucks ready-to-drink lineup include mini Frappuccinos, available in caramel and white chocolate mocha; a Doubleshot energy drink in caramel flavor; and bottled Espresso Americano.
The Oleato coffee drinks are allegedly causing stomach aches
The new Oleato drink lineup — first announced as an addition to Starbucks menus in Italy and then brought over to the U.S. last month – has been getting mixed reviews from baristas and customers. Available in select cities and store locations, the lineup is comprised of four different coffee and alcoholic beverages infused and/or topped with Partanna extra virgin olive oil.
But could the drinks be causing gastrointestinal issues? According to a few Twitter posts and Reddit threads, both Starbucks customers and fans are complaining that the unique combination of the olive oil and coffee or espresso is causing stomach pains.
In a subreddit for Starbucks baristas, one barista said their team tried it and half ended up needing to use the bathroom, while another has called the drinks “absolutely disgusting,” though a few other reviews on social media seem to praise the drink.
Starbucks fired the first union organizer in Buffalo
Alexis Rizzo — the Starbucks union organizer and worker largely responsible for the start of the unionization movement in the company — has been fired from her job, Starbucks Workers United said.
The union confirmed that since last week’s Senate hearing, Starbucks has fired three union organizers, though the company has always defended its choices as having nothing to do with an employee’s involvement with SBWorkers United.
Alexis Rizzo, for example, was let go after 13 years of working with the company as a barista and organizing her store in Buffalo, N.Y. to become one of the first stores to unionize. A GoFundMe set up in her honor states that this is “retaliation” for being a leader in the union movement. However, according to Starbucks, Rizzo was terminated for being consistently late to her shift. According to the union, she was late four times, two of which were only a minute or two late.
The company met its diversity goals two years ahead of schedule
Starbucks has been announcing updates on its DE&I goals ever since initially setting them in 2020, and now the company has surpassed most of its diversity goals at both the store and corporate level two years ahead of schedule.
According to Starbucks, the company committed to 40% BIPOC at the store level by 2025, and 30% BIPOC at the corporate level by the same year. According to the latest numbers, published in fall 2022, Starbucks retail employees are now 50.8% BIPOC and 72.4% female, while corporate is comprised of 36.6% BIPOC and 55.3% women.
These goals were supposed to be achieved over the next two years and have now been surpassed.
Starbucks has raised $37 million for small businesses
Starbucks announced an update to its Community Resilience Fund, which raises money for small businesses and nonprofits in communities with historically limited access to capital. The company committed to raising $100 million for small businesses by 2025 and has so far raised $37 million for nonprofits and local organizations like The Developmental Journey: a Texas-based mobile care clinic that evaluates children with developmental and behavioral disabilities.