March 9, 2015 Opportunity

Finalists Chosen for Starbucks Partner Cup Design Contest

Playful butterflies, swirling coffee beans, delicate flowers, colorful continents, an iconic Starbucks apron, and a detailed night scene all adorn cups that were selected as finalists in the Starbucks Partner Cup Contest.

Inspired by the success of its White Cup Contest for customers, Starbucks gave its store partners (employees) an opportunity to express their creativity through their own design contest last month.

In just one week, more than 1,500 entries were submitted for the first cup design contest for Starbucks baristas.  

“Our expectations were blown away, both in the number of entries and the quality of the submissions,” said Dan Jensen, a manager on the Partner Communications and Engagement Team. “We have talented partners at Starbucks.”

Baristas decorated iconic Starbucks white cups with hand-drawn art, took a photo of the cup design, and shared it through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #PartnerCupContest as a hashtag. From those entries, more than a dozen were chosen for judging. Partners throughout the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle voted to narrow the selections to seven finalists.

The finalists' designs will be considered carefully, and three Partner Cup Contest winners will be announced in mid-April. The winning partner designs will be produced on Starbucks 16 fluid ounce reusable cup and will be available for purchase later this year.

“It was difficult to narrow down the choices and it will be challenging to select the final three winners,” Jensen said. “All the designs are reflections of the way our partners bring their work to life in our stores every day - creatively, thoughtfully and individually.”

Meet the finalists:

Lauren, District of Columbia

I wanted to express the way Starbucks goes out of its way to recognize the individuality of all partners while keeping it simple and design-oriented, focusing on the way the positive and negative spaces interact to keep your eye moving through the green apron image.


Kerry, Illinois

I came up with the design from my cup from my love of nature. I wanted to incorporate flowers and bring some spring season to frigid Chicago right now. I’ve always been super in to art and I draw all the time I'm actually graduating with my undergrad in Art Therapy in May.


Shelby, Michigan

My grandma taught me how to watercolor when I was young. She has taught me everything I know about art. Painting flowers or nature was always my favorite, and I wanted to capture a natural spring theme, roses make me happy. I came up with the continents design because my husband and I love to travel, and our world is so fun and colorful.


Benjamin, Texas

My love of space and science fiction inspired the design. I love the idea of our natural world and life being connected to a much larger cosmos. Things like the Aurora Borealis, comets and stargazing make me happy. I’m also a fan of black and white images, which comes from me being a trained photographer.


Jeremiah, California

I wanted something that would be exciting for the eyes to look at and that would trigger a lively emotion from the viewer, so I knew I had to go with something that had a strong emphasis on movement. Coffee beans! From there, I moved on to composition with line direction, color, rhythm, balance, and contrast. I made something that would sum up everything Starbucks is and that would tell a passionate story to customers in a single image.


Brynn, Washington

My mom taught me how to draw when I was little so I have been doodling for most of my life. I have always been drawn towards a Scandinavian style of floral designs because of my family's heritage. My quaint hometown of Poulsbo, WA has a very strong Nordic presence, so I think stuff like that will always remind me of home. For the Partner Cup Contest, I tried to draw something especially springy because I'm excited for my daughter's first spring. 


Brandon, New Mexico

I’ve always liked monarch butterflies and designed a tattoo of the same image that’s on my forearm. When the Starbucks dress code policy changed allowing visible tattoos I received a lot of compliments on my monarch tattoo. When I designed the cup I wanted to use that design but play a little more with negative space and decided not to fill it with too many butterflies.


Good luck to all the finalists! 

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom