January 27, 2015 Coffee & Company

Starbucks Provides Coffee to U.S. Service Members in Afghanistan

Starbucks recently provided 32,000 three-pack servings of its VIA® Ready Brew Coffee to U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan. That's enough to supply the approximately 9,800 service members currently in Afghanistan.  

“Getting a cup of coffee is something your average American takes for granted. But for our troops a cup of coffee is a special taste of home,” said Alan Reyes, USO Senior Vice President of Operations. “Imagine a soldier coming off an arduous patrol or hostile fire, and then seeing that Starbucks logo – it takes their minds out of the war zone, even for a few minutes.”

The USO delivered the Starbucks donation to Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan, over the holidays and ensured distribution to overseas service members. Due to security precautions, the coffee delivery could not be disclosed until now.

“Donations like this serve as a reminder to our troops that Americans back home are thinking about them and are thankful for their service,” Reyes added. 

“We've heard from many servicemen and women about how grateful they were to receive some coffee from their hometown Starbucks. This year we wanted to build on the organic effort and ensure there was enough for everyone still serving in Afghanistan,” said John Kelly, Starbucks senior vice president of global responsibility and public policy.

The VIA coffee donation is one of the ways Starbucks and its partners (employees) have actively supported military service members for the past 12 years. Here are some examples:

2002 - Starbucks worked with the Red Cross to send its first shipment of coffee overseas to troops. Members of the Starbucks Armed Forces Network (AFN) have regularly organized care package shipments since then. 

2003 – A Starbucks store in Fredericksburg, Virginia donated 93 pounds of coffee, delivered by then-Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers during a holiday trip to the region.

2004 – 12,000 pounds of Starbucks coffee from the company’s roasting plant in Kent, Washington was shipped to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. At Andrews, airmen with the 89th Aerial Port packed the coffee on pallets and loaded it aboard a C-17. Since that trip, another 5,000 pounds went overseas to troops in August 2005, 18,000 pounds in December 2005, and 1,100 in July 2006.

Members of the Starbucks Armed Forces Network (AFN) have regularly organized care package shipments since then, including the most recent shipment in December of 2014, the AFN packed over 50 boxes for service members. 

Starbucks raised funds for organizations supporting veterans and active duty service members through The Concert for Valor and a new book co-authored by Howard Schultz, “For Love of Country.” In addition, Starbucks is on its way toward hiring 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018.

“The company has a heart for people and I have benefitted directly from the support that Starbucks has continually shown to the men and women who serve our country,” said Eric Christensen, a Starbucks business systems analyst.

Christensen has been in the Army for 22 years and is now a Reservist for a biological detection unit based in Washington state. He’s has been mobilized and deployed three times. Looking back on his service in Iraq, he recalled getting care packages of Starbucks coffee that “meant the world” to him.

Starbucks senior financial analyst Adrian Mays was also deployed overseas when he served in the military from 2001 to 2010. 

“I remember being completely surprised and thrilled about receiving a package of coffee and other things that came in handy,” Mays said. “It speaks volumes about how Starbucks cares.” 


About the USO

The USO’s mission today is the same as it’s been for the past 74 years – to support troops and their families throughout every step of their journey. The USO delivers programs and services to boost morale, entertain comfort and connect those who are a part of the military community. It has more than 160 locations worldwide and nearly 30,000 volunteers. 

About VIA® Ready Brew  

Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew is 100 percent arabica coffee in an instant and microground form that is rich and full bodied just like a fresh-brewed cup of Starbucks® coffee. The coffee comes in convenient easy-to-open serving packets – add hot water, wait 10 seconds, stir and drink. 

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom