It would seem Starbucks needs to invite yet another store to participate in its mandatory racial bias education.
On April 24, Taylor Hunkeler took to FaceBook to post an upsetting situation which occurred at a Berlin, Germany Starbucks. Hunkeler told Nextshark that her mother, father, godfather, and aunt were all at the coffee shop so her mother could order a drink. Her mother had indicated to the staff that her name is Stephanie, only to be was shocked when she received a drink with the word “japeneese” hastily scrawled on the cup.
“Uh… what the heck Starbucks Berlin? I know my mother is Japanese, BUT WHAT THE HECK. This is beyond insensitive,” Hunkeler said in her post, tagging the corporate coffee house. “Starbucks this is not acceptable behavior in any location in the world.”
While Hunkeler’s mother does happen to be Japanese American, this was not information that the barista was privy to — all they had was her name, Stephanie. Additionally, there was no cause to single her out by her race in the event they forgot her name, as no one else in their group of four ordered drinks, nor was there anyone else in the store at the time of the incident.
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“They were the only people in the Starbucks around 8:00 p.m. that night,” Hunkeler told Nextshark. “My mother was the only person who had an active order.”
Hunkeler’s father, who is Caucasian, told Nextshark what happened after they received their order:
“I took the cup back in and showed them the cup. I told them that her name was Stephanie and showed them the cup. The Barista at counter who took the order was sheepish, appeared a bit embarrassed, but laughed it off. I told them that after what happened in the U.S., they should be more sensitive.
“Another Barista understood and apologized, BUT all three there laughed – perhaps nervously. Mom was insulted that they used a label versus her name. They were lucky that ‘Japanese’ was her ethnicity, otherwise she would have felt even worse. Mom was disappointed that her favorite place to get Iced tea didn’t treat her as a a valued patron with a ‘Stephanie’ on her cup.”
While the exchange between her father and the staff resulted in an apology — however unsatisfying it may be — the dynamics of the people involved were not lost on Hunkeler. “I can only imagine the reaction of the staff would have been different if my mother confronted them,” she said, noting the difference in race between her mother and father.
Hunkeler’s mother, who was too stunned to say anything at the time, says the incident was “very hurtful.”
“You don’t really know the full impact of a situation like this until it actually happens to you.”
Nextshark has reached out to Starbucks for comment.