I wrote this on November 19, 2016, on a Tumblr blog that no longer exists. The events I mention in this piece of writing took place shortly after the 2016 election. It is about a bizarre, and ineffectual protest, that took place at Starbucks. As I was posting this piece here, I edited it for clarity. I also added an update.
I read “The Trump Cup” on episode 31 of my Words of Jen podcast.
You’ve probably seen photos on social media of a drink from Starbucks with the name Trump written on it. People go to Starbucks, order a drink, and when the barista asks for “a name for your cup” – people are responding “Trump”. The story of how this got started is bizarre.
BBC reported that this new form of political protest (or whatever it was supposed to be) got started in Florida, when a white man threw a loud, screaming, tantrum because he felt he was made to wait too long for his coffee. This took place in a Starbucks near the University of Miami. A customer in the Starbucks recorded the man’s tantrum – and posted the video online.
According to the BBC, the man started screaming at the baristas. He yelled that he had voted for Trump, and then called the baristas “garbage” and “complete trash”. Apparently, the man later apologized and acknowledged (when he spoke to the Miami Herald) that he “had a bad day”. However, he continued to insist that he believes the reason that he had to wait for his coffee longer than he wanted to was because he was white and because the staff at Starbucks knew he was a Trump supporter.
A second video involved a different white man (but also took place in Florida). According to the BBC, the second man asked the barista to write the name “Trump” on the cup. The drink was for his girlfriend. It appears that the barista would not do that. The incident took place the day before the 2016 presidential election.
So, the man decided to throw a temper tantrum. He started screaming at the barista, claiming that he had already spoken with the Starbucks corporate office. He insisted that the corporate office said that he can have any drink he wants with any name on it he wants. Of course, this incident was recorded and the video was posted online.
The BBC reported that something called “Trending” had contacted Starbucks about this incident. Part of the response they got from Starbucks was:
Over the years, writing customer names on cups and calling out their names has been a fun ritual in our stores. Rarely has it been abused or taken advantage of. We hope and trust that our customers will continue to honor that tradition.
We don’t require our (employees) to write or call out names.
In short, the second Florida man was either confused, or flat out lying, when he told the barista that Starbucks corporate told him he could get any name he wanted on his drink. This incident ended when the police arrived and asked the man to leave.
Let’s be very clear about this: The trend to ask the Starbucks barista to write Trump on the cup originated from not one, but two, grown white men who chose to have a temper tantrum like a toddler. One thought having to wait for his drink longer than he expected was a good reason to have a conniption. The other pitched a fit after insisting that the barista do something that she was not required to do. He didn’t get his way – so he threw a tantrum.
After the videos of the two men behaving like spoiled children went online, some Trump supporters concluded that it would be awesome to go to Starbucks and tell the barista to write Trump on their cups. After doing so, they took a photo of their cup and posted it on social media with #Trump or #TrumpCup.
KTLA 5 reported that those hashtags were not new. They originated in 2015 when Starbucks served a plain, red, holiday cup. The reason was so people would draw on the cup and make pretty designs. The best designs ended up being printed on the Starbucks 2016 holiday cups. KTLA 5 reported that a former pastor took offense at the plain red cups, declared that it was a “war on Christmas” and started the hashtags.
If I remember correctly, that was the year that angry people went to Starbucks and said their name was “Merry Christmas.” Their protest involved going to Starbucks (which they didn’t like) and spending money, in the hopes that the barista would yell “Merry Christmas” when their drink was ready.
CNN reported that after the videos of the badly behaved men went viral, other Trump supporters decided to protest at Starbucks. Reportedly, they were protesting what they view as political and anti-white discrimination. I did some digging around online, read some news articles about this topic, and checked out what was said about it on Twitter.
It appears there were other reasons why Trump supporters were staging this bizarre protest, with recycled hashtags, at Starbucks. One – they consider Starbucks to be “liberal” and appear to have convinced themselves that when the barista calls out the name Trump that all the customers will instantly start crying.
Their assumption is that everyone else in the Starbucks voted for Hillary Clinton. The Trump supporters seem to have realized that many people who did not vote for Trump were extremely upset about the outcome of the election. These Trump supporters were doing this protest in an effort to rip open other people’s emotional wounds. Why? Because they thought it was funny.
Two – Trump supporters were doing the #TrumpCup protest because it is a microaggression. A microaggression is a subtle, but offensive, comment or action directed at a non-dominant group. Racists often use microaggressions to harass people of color. It is a way to make someone feel unwelcome or unsafe by doing things that are completely legal – but annoying.
Asking the barista to write the name Trump on your cup is legal. Having the barista yell out the name Trump for all to hear is legal. These Trump supporters know they are probably going to get away with this microaggression (if they can refrain from throwing a tantrum.)
There’s more to it than that. These Trump supporters are going into a coffee shop that they consider to be liberal and abusing the “fun ritual” of having the barista write a name on their cup. Their goal is to find a place where they think Clinton supporters, or liberals, are hanging out and subtly make them feel unwelcome or unsafe in a place that wouldn’t typically be filled with Trump supporters. #TrumpCup is a combination of harassment, a subtle implication that non-Trump supporters are unwelcome at Starbucks, and a way of gloating because Trump won the election.
The people who were doing the #TrumpCup protest are unkind.
They also aren’t very smart with their money. In order to have a barista write Trump on a cup – you have to order a drink. You have to pay for the drink before it gets made, passed down to the other end of the counter, and called out. These Trump supporters, who may believe they are taking some kind of stand or creating a (very weird) protest, are giving money to a coffee shop that they don’t like because they think it is liberal.
Usually, when people don’t like the political or social viewpoints of a specific company – they take their dollars to that store’s competitor. The idea is to take money away from the company whose policies, investments, or the CEO’s personal viewpoints, are distasteful – and support a competing company who’s political or social viewpoints are pleasing. The Trump supporters were doing it wrong. They were doing it backwards.
Fast forward to November of 2017, and …. another bizarre, confused, coffee protest was happening. This one started on or around November 11, 2017. Keurig, a company that makes fancy coffee makers that require little pods of coffee, pulled their advertising from The Sean Hannity Show on Fox News.
On November 10, 2017, Angelo Carusone (whose Twitter bio says he is President of Media Matters) sent a tweet to Keurig. The tweet said: “Good afternoon @Keurig. You are currently sponsoring Sean Hannity’s show. He defends child molester Roy Moore and attacks women who speak out against sexual harassment. Please reconsider.”
Angelo Carusone was referring to the allegations made against Roy Moore, who had been accused of sexual harassment by eight women. The women were all teenagers at the time, and Roy Moore was in his 30s. The allegations hit the news while Roy Moore was running for an open United States Senate seat. Sean Hannity appeared to be defending Roy Moore.
Keurig responded on Twitter to Angelo Carusone. Keurig tweeted “Angelo, thank you for your concern and for bringing this to our attention. We worked with our media partner and Fox News to stop our ad from airing during the Sean Hannity Show.”
What happened next was … strange. People who supported Trump, or Roy Moore, or Sean Hannity (or maybe all three of them) decided to smash their Keurig coffee machines. They used a brand new hashtag #KeurigSmashChallenge. People took videos of themselves smashing the Keurig coffee machines that they owned and had already paid money for.
It is likely that these angry people had no idea that they were inadvertently joining an environmentalist movement. Keurig coffee machines require pods – or “K-cups”- that are filled with coffee (and sometimes tea, or cocoa). The majority of those pods are made of non-recyclable plastic and end up in landfills.
Those who smashed their Keurig machines, because they were angry about Keurig pulling its ads away from Sean Hannity’s show…. are actually helping the environment. They will no longer be tossing used K-cups into the trash. They are doing something good for the environment, unintentionally, because they got mad at Keurig.
Those angry, impulsive, people, who smashed their Keurig machines, no longer had a coffee maker. What are they going to do when they want coffee? They could go to the store, or online, and spend more of their own money to buy a new coffee maker. Or, they could spend more of their own money by purchasing daily cups of coffee from a cafe… like Starbucks.
This grumpy group of people seem to continually have difficulties with coffee. Perhaps they should switch to soda.