Starbucks Tries to Inspire a Fiscal Cliff Agreement with Cup Message

Coffee has long spurred conversation. So can it inspire one between Democrats and Republicans to avoid the fiscal cliff?

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A cup of coffee with the words "come together" sits on the counter at Starbucks, on December 27, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Need a bit of convincing with your cappuccino? Some persuasion with your morning pick-me-up? D.C. politicos grabbing coffee at Starbucks this week will see a curious message scribbled on their cups: “Come Together.” And no, it has nothing to do with John and Paul’s famous song.

Instead, it’s a phrase of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s concoction, intended to help brew a fiscal cliff deal. So, through Friday, baristas at the coffee chain’s Washington, D.C. locations have been instructed to write the phrase  on all customers’ cups. It’s Schultz’s rose-colored plan to induce a spirit of cooperation into D.C.-area coffee drinkers as Congress and the President continue to wrangle over fiscal cliff negotiations.

Figuring that Starbucks is the first stop for lobbyists and legislators before work and the source of many a midday caffeine boost, Schultz has decided to flex a bit of non-partisan muscle. “We have an opportunity—and I believe a responsibility—to use our company’s scale for good by sending a respectful and optimistic message,” Schultz wrote in a blog post Wednesday announcing the plan.

(MORE: Starbucks Now Sells ‘Geisha’ Coffee for $7 a Cup)

It’s an exercise, indeed, but is it one of futility? The Senate was out of session until today, and the House has not yet reconvened. And a Starbucks spokesman told CNN Money that writing the message was “voluntary” and that baristas weren’t required to write it if it makes them “uncomfortable.” And even for those coffee shop workers who participate, we bet their hands must be getting pretty tired after scrawling on so many cups — especially as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that a tumble over the cliff (or at least a slide down the slope) is imminent.

Part of the problem may be that Starbucks baristas are skipping the wrong cups: House Speaker John Boehner’s office didn’t receive the optimistic message, it appears. Brendan Buck, Boehner’s press secretary, found his Thursday cup of coffee platitude-free:


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