Nov 16, 2022 - Economy

Starbucks Red Cup Day returns Thursday with free reusable cups

Starbucks barista hands red cup to customer

Starbucks brings back its annual Red Cup Day Thursday, Nov. 17. Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks is serving up its popular Red Cup Day with a free reusable cup giveaway Thursday.

The big picture: The coffee giant is tapping into the lure of a freebie — a limited-edition collectible cup with a holiday or fall drink order — to capitalize on holiday cheer and help the environment.

  • The reusable cups are part of Starbucks’ goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2030, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Starbucks Red Cup Day strike

Driving the news: Starbucks unions for more than 100 U.S. locations said they are striking Thursday, which they're calling a "Red Cup Rebellion."

  • Starbucks Workers United said in a statement that while on strike, workers will hand out red union cups to customers.
  • The union said the strike is "in response to Starbucks' union-busting tactics and refusal to bargain."

Starbucks Red Cup Day 2022: How to get a free cup

What's happening: Starting Thursday, Nov. 17, order a handcrafted fall or holiday drink and get a reusable red cup for free.

  • Drinks can be ordered on the chain's app, for delivery, in-store, drive-thru and curbside.
  • If you order multiple qualifying drinks, you can get a free reusable cup for each, Starbucks told Axios.

Yes, but: The free cups, which are made with 50% recycled material, are available while supplies last at participating U.S. locations.

Of note: The beverages won't be served in the cups Thursday but can be used on future Starbucks trips.

Starbucks' holiday drinks menu

Starbucks' holiday menu of drinks and seasonal food returned Nov. 3, a day after Dunkin’ released its holiday menu.

  • The drinks are available for a limited time hot, iced and as a Frappuccino blended beverage in U.S. Starbucks stores, while supplies last.

Qualifying drinks for Thursday's free cup giveaway are:

  • Lattes: Caramel Brulée Latte, Chestnut Praline Latte and Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte.
  • Hot chocolates: Hot Chocolate, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Peppermint White Hot Chocolate, Toasted White Hot Chocolate and White Hot Chocolate.
  • More coffee drinks: Irish Cream Cold Brew, Peppermint Mocha and Toasted White Chocolate Mocha.
  • Fall drinks: Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato, Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Flashback: It's the 20th anniversary of the Peppermint Mocha, which was released in 2002.

Starbucks red cups 25th anniversary

Starbucks' holiday cups — often called "red cups" — were first introduced in 1997 and are as much a part of the holiday tradition as the seasonal drinks.

  • Most of the official red cups are not reusable and this year Starbucks has four holiday cups, which the company said are "each wrapped up like a gift."

The reusable cups for the fifth Red Cup Day giveaway feature a white ornament design, which Starbucks said is a "celebratory message around the 25th anniversary."

Reusable cup discounts at Starbucks

Zoom out: Starbucks rewards customers who bring and use reusable cups with a discount of 10 cents off a drink and members of its loyalty program also earn 25 bonus stars.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with details about Thursday's union strike.

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