FACT CHECK: Is Starbucks Offering Free Drinks To People Of Color?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

Images of Starbucks coupons circulating on social media promise a free drink to people of color.

“The best dialogue starts over a cup of coffee, and we’d like to buy you one,” says one image. “People of color only.”

“Limited to persons of African American heritage and/or identity at time of exchange,” says another image.

Verdict: False

Hoaxers created the coupons, not Starbucks.

Fact Check:

The fake coupons followed Starbucks’ response to outrage over the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia store location last week.

A Starbucks manager called police after the men asked to use the bathroom without purchasing anything. The men said that they were waiting to meet a potential business partner. Protesters Monday accused the company of racism.

Starbucks apologized Saturday for the incident and announced Tuesday that it would shut down 8,000 stores on May 29 for an employee racial bias education training. The company did not offer free drinks to people of color, though.

The fake coupon appears to have originated on 4chan, an anonymous messing board. “Here’s a fake Starbucks coupon for marginalized folks. Should be fun if it’s presented and denied,” said a post on Tuesday.

When decoded, the QR code on one of the coupons reads, “This is a robbery. Remain calm. Take all the money in the register, put it in a paper bag and hand it to me. Otherwise I will get violent.”

After word spread that the coupon was not real, hoaxers created a fake statement from the Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson that apologized for the fake coupons and said the company would provide all customers with a free beverage and 50 percent off all food items.

“Although this started as a hoax, after mountains of positive feedback on social media, we’ve decided to make it a reality,” the fake statement said. “We cannot let the racial division stoked by Russian internet trolls divide our country any longer.”

Starbucks confirmed that the statement and coupons were hoaxes. “This is completely false and in no way associated with Starbucks,” the company’s press office told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.

Though the coupon and the statement are fake, some stores did fulfill requests from customers who asked for a free drink for being a person of color.

Social media personality Bryan “Hotep Jesus” Sharpe filmed his encounter. “I heard you guys don’t like black people, so I wanted to get my Starbucks reparations voucher,” he said.

“Is that a real thing?” the barista said. “I mean, I’ll give it to you. I saw that on my Twitter last night.”

Sharpe said on “The Ingraham Angle” Wednesday that he is tired of liberals making black people look like victims. “I said, ‘you know what, I bet if I go into Starbucks and I follow a liberal narrative, I’ll make the news.’ And viola, here I am,” he explained.

Another YouTube user asked for a “free black coffee” at multiple Starbucks stores. “You haven’t seen any of the redemption stuff, or the coupons?” she said. The barista and manager at one store told her that the promotion was not real, but gave her a free coffee anyway. Other stores refused her request.

Starbucks founder and executive chairman Howard Schultz said that it would cost millions of dollars to educate the company’s staff on racial bias. “The announcement we made yesterday about closing our stores, 8,000 stores closed to do significant training with our people, is just the beginning of what we will do to transform the way we do business and educate people on unconscious bias,” he told “CBS This Morning” Wednesday.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter