As Starbucks Dithers, Philz Enthusiastically Celebrates Pride

Pride Month is a time for communities to come together in support of diversity, inclusion, and LGBTQ+ rights. Many companies join in the celebration, expressing their support through various initiatives and decorations.

However, not all companies approach Pride Month with the same enthusiasm. Recently, Starbucks faced controversy regarding its Pride decorations, while Philz Coffee enthusiastically embraced the celebration.

Starbucks’ Controversy

Starbucks, a global coffeehouse chain, recently faced criticism and strikes at its unionized stores over its policy on Pride decorations. Starbucks Workers United, the union representing organized stores, claimed that the company restricted Pride decorations in multiple locations across different states. Starbucks, however, forcefully denied this claim​1​.

The tension escalated when members of the union initiated a days-long “unfair labor practice strike” against Starbucks, protesting its treatment of LGBTQIA+ workers as well as what they termed as its “union-busting campaign.”

The strike involved demands for more consistent hours and gender-neutral bathrooms, among other things. Initially, over 60 Starbucks locations in 17 states went on strike, and the union expected this number to rise to over 150 stores by the end of the week​1​.

In response to the union’s claims that Starbucks had been limiting Pride decorations in stores, the company stated that store leaders are permitted to decorate stores as they wish for Pride and other heritage months, provided the decorations adhere to safety guidelines. Starbucks emphasized its unwavering support for the LGBTQIA2+ community and expressed deep concern over what it perceived as the spread of false information by the union​1​.

Philz’s Enthusiasm

Pride decorations at Philz

In contrast to the controversy surrounding Starbucks, Philz Coffee is enthusiastically embracing Pride Month.

When the Bay Area Telegraph visited the Philz in Lafayette, California, we observed numerous rainbow decorations. Additionally, Philz displayed not only the traditional rainbow Pride flag but also inclusive flags that represented transgender rights and other segments of the LGBTQ+ community.

Moreover, Philz Coffee is actively supporting Pride through its Unity blend. Proceeds from the sale of the Unity blend go towards supporting LGBTQ charities, making Philz’s commitment to Pride Month both visible and impactful.

In what looks to be a dunk on Starbucks, Philz’ CEO Carolyn Frey wrote on Facebook, “Philz proudly welcomes all and creates a safe space to belong, be and connect. It is why we are here – to create a place that asks nothing more than to be yourself.”

Sweet Harmony, made with Unity blend


As the contrasting approaches of Starbucks and Philz Coffee highlight, companies have different ways of engaging with and supporting Pride Month.

While Starbucks faced criticism and controversy, Philz Coffee enthusiastically embraced the celebration with decorations, products, and direct support for LGBTQ charities. As consumers, it is important to be aware of how companies represent and support the values that are dear to our communities.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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