Courtesy of Starbucks

From the coffee chain itself.

July 21, 2017

You may have never known Starbucks' aprons to be anything but green. But before they were the emerald hue you've come to know and love, they were brown—and there's an interesting reason the company made this signature wardrobe change.

When Starbucks opened its first doors—at its original location in Seattle's Pike Place Market—in 1971, its baristas donned simple brown grocer's aprons, according to a news release from the company. The same color as the coffee they ground, poured, and served, the brown aprons made a lot of sense. By 1987, however, Starbucks had grown to 17 locations and the brand had a new logo, trading its original brown logo for an updated green siren in an "affirming green" circle, CEO Howard Schultz wrote in Pour Your Heart Into It. At that point, it made sense the for the aprons to be green.

The logo has since been updated—it was modernized further in 1992 and again in 2011—but its green has stayed with it, and so have the green aprons. Of course, you may have spotted a black or red apron here or there, and the release explains those variations too. Black aprons rolled out in the 1990s as a way to signify baristas who had been certified with special coffee knowledge. And red aprons came in 1997, as Starbucks embraced the holiday spirit with its iconic (and often divisive) red cups.

As the aprons changed, baristas dress from head-to-toe also evolved. An employee who joined the company even before Schultz came on board described wearing flip-flops and cutoffs with his brown apron. By 1987, baristas were expected to dress in finer clothes: crisp white shirts and black bow ties, just as baristas do in Italy. Today, the dress code is again more relaxed: baristas can wear a variety of colors, patterns, and styles beneath their green aprons, as part of a more inclusive dress code policy.