November 11, 2016 Partner (Employee) Experience

Starbucks Adopt a Unit Delivers Coffee to Soldiers Overseas

  • Matt Kress

In Kentucky, Starbucks district manager Shelley Henderson accumulates boxes of VIA® Instant Coffee and pounds of whole bean coffee for members of the 101st Airborne Division prior to their deployment from Fort Campbell to Afghanistan as the holidays approach.

In Texas, Starbucks partners (employees) assemble care packages for the members of the U.S. Air Force 59th Medical Wing stationed in Afghanistan and serve complementary coffee and pastries to the U.S. Army 32nd Medical Brigade at its monthly mentor motorcycle rides.

In Seattle, partners working at the Starbucks Support Center (headquarters) box up coffee, snacks and toiletries for members of the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion deploying to Afghanistan from nearby Joint Base Lewis–McChord.

These partners represent 15 Starbucks regional districts around the United States that are participating in Adopt a Unit – an emerging Starbucks program designed to build a bond between partners and the military communities they serve.  

“The Adopt a Unit program solidifies to me that Starbucks genuinely supports and understands my way of life,” said Shannon Feltz, a military spouse who manages a Starbucks near Fort Campbell. “The trust and rapport we have built between our unit and our partners is priceless.”

Adopt a Unit was inspired by feedback from veteran and military spouse partners, according to Matt Kress, manager of Veterans and Military Affairs for Starbucks. The program is an extension of an ongoing effort that, in the past year, delivered 40 pallets of whole bean coffee and 150,000 sticks of VIA to Armed Forces members.

“Districts and groups within Starbucks are adopting military units that are deployed so they can help meet some of the needs of service members who are overseas, as well as help meet the needs of families that are back in the States,” said Kress.

Amy Pappas, a Starbucks district manager in Virginia and wife of a Marine Corps veteran, said the program serves to “bring part of home to our troops.”

“Everyone knows Starbucks and, for almost every customer, Starbucks is the third place,” Pappas said. “If we can help bring the third place to our members, we can bring a feeling of support and encouragement to them as well.”

Starbucks has hired 8,000 veterans and military spouses since 2013, toward its commitment of hiring at least 10,000 by the end of 2018.

Adopt a Unit’s mission extends from partnering with veteran service organizations to hosting spouse support groups like Military Mondays, which provides veterans with pro bono legal assistance related to housing, education, employment, disability claims and healthcare issues.

And don’t underestimate the value of just getting a good cup of coffee to a soldier in the field, emphasized Kress, who served for 22 years in the Marine Corps.

“You can’t imagine how excited they are to get coffee,” Kress said. “It makes a world of difference just to have a cup of Starbucks and a little taste of home when they’re far away.” 

On Veterans Day

Active duty service members, reservists, veterans and military spouses are invited to enjoy a free Tall Brewed Coffee as a gesture of the company's appreciation for the military community's sacrifices and contributions. 

Through November 11, for every Veterans Day Starbucks Card or eGift purchased, Starbucks will contribute $5 to help support programs that direct veterans to use their skills, experience and commitment to help create positive change in their communities: Team Rubicon, Team Red, White & Blue, and The Mission Continues.

Learn more about how Starbucks is Paying Tribute and Creating Opportunities for service members, veterans and military spouses.


The following ad appears in several major newspapers.

For more information on this news release, contact the Starbucks Newsroom