Starbucks Workers Get Pay Bump, New Coffee, Tattoo Leeway

Starbucks Corp. unveiled a spate of new perks for its workers yesterday, including higher starting pay and first crack at coffee from the company’s Costa Rican test farm as well as looser rules governing tattoos.

The world’s biggest coffee-shop chain is giving the first harvest from Hacienda Alsacia, the Costa Rican farm it bought last year, to its workers, Haley Drage, a spokeswoman for Seattle-based Starbucks, said in an e-mail. The plantation’s first year yielded about 300,000 pounds of beans, less than 0.1 percent of the coffee Starbucks purchased in its fiscal 2013.

Starbucks bought the 240-hectare (about 600-acre) estate, its first such purchase, to expand its grower-support program and experiment with new disease-resistant coffee varieties. The company, which has about 20,800 locations worldwide, has said it may consider buying other farms.

“The first harvest from Hacienda Alsacia is a historic moment for Starbucks, and what better way to celebrate that than by giving it to our partners,” said Craig Russell, executive vice president of global coffee. “This coffee represents the opportunity we have to support farmers worldwide with the development of high quality coffee for the entire industry.”

Bags of the whole-bean coffee were given to Starbucks district managers at a leadership conference in Seattle earlier this week. The Hacienda Alsacia coffee also will be sold in some other Starbucks blends in stores.

Starbucks rose 1.2 percent to $73.54 at the close in New York. The shares have slid 6.2 percent this year, compared with a 2.1 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Pay Bump

Starbucks also said yesterday in a statement that it will increase starting pay rates in all U.S. markets in January. All baristas and shift supervisors will get raises then as well. As part of Starbucks’ plan to double its food business in the next five years, cafe workers will be entitled to one free food item per shift, too.

In addition to the monetary rewards, Starbucks is loosening its dress code to allow colored ties and scarves as well as black denim and visible tattoos.

The company’s updated dress code now reads: “Tattoos are allowed, but not on your face or throat. Treat tattoos as you treat speech -- you can’t swear, make hateful comments or lewd jokes in the workplace, neither can your tattoos.”

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