Starbucks apologizes to customer for racial slur on cup

“It’s a way racists refer to us Latinos. It was bad. Anyone who is Latino would be offended too.”

By Rachel Siegel / The Washington Post

His name is Pedro.

That was the name he gave when he walked into a Starbucks in La Cañada Flintridge, California, and ordered a venti white mocha and a venti iced caramel macchiato.

But “Beaner” — a racial slur for Latinos — was the name printed on his drinks.

“It’s a way racists refer to us Latinos. It was bad. Anyone who is Latino would be offended too,” Pedro told Telemundo 52, a sister station of a Los Angeles NBC affiliate. (Pedro declined to give his last name to the station.)

And so, at 8:44 a.m. Tuesday, Pedro became yet another person who was racially profiled and discriminated against in a commercial space. The incident came one month after two black men left a Starbucks 2,700 miles away in handcuffs after they arrived 10 minutes early for a business meeting. Twelve days from now, Starbucks will close 8,000 stores for an afternoon to give racial-bias training to 175,000 employees.

Starbucks has since apologized for Pedro’s experience, and a spokesman told The Post that the company’s “leadership team” met with him Thursday morning.

“He accepted our apology,” the spokesman, Nate Nesbitt, said. “This kind of mistake is unacceptable, and we will take additional steps to assess what happened here and how our partners can be better.”

Another spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a question about whether the incident would affect Starbucks’s approach to its May 29 racial-bias training.

Pedro told the station that he was initially offered a $50 gift card to make up for the incident, which he declined. Pedro said he was sure the employee knew his name, since he called out “Pedro” when the order was ready.

“It’s like an insult overall,” he said.

Starbucks has drawn a lot of criticism since April 12, when Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson arrived 10 minutes early for a business meeting at a Starbucks in Philadelphia and a white manager called the police.

Starbucks’ executive chairman Howard Schultz and chief executive Kevin Johnson met with Nelson and Robinson personally to apologize. The men will also take part in the company’s racial-bias training and work with former Attorney General Eric Holder, who is involved in shaping the May 29 curriculum and other long-term initiatives.

Earlier this month, Nelson and Robinson agreed to a symbolic payment of $1 each from the city of Philadelphia and asked the city to put $200,000 in a grant program for high school students who are aspiring entrepreneurs.

Nelson and Robinson also reached an undisclosed financial settlement with Starbucks, “as well as continued listening and dialogue between the parties.”

And last week, Schulz said Starbucks would open its bathrooms to everyone, whether they buy something or not. Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, Schultz said the company’s afternoon of racial-bias training would kick-start an “entire transformation” of how Starbucks employees are trained.

“I think it’s fair to say that most people have some level of unconscious bias based on our own life experience,” he said. “So there’s going to be a lot of education about how we all grew up, how we see the world and how we can be better.”

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