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What's brewing up at Starbucks?: Today So Far

caption: Brandon Hersey pauses to be photographed during a picket Wednesday, March 22, 2023, outside Starbucks' Seattle headquarters.
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Brandon Hersey pauses to be photographed during a picket Wednesday, March 22, 2023, outside Starbucks' Seattle headquarters.
Monica Nickelsburg
  • A lot of news around Starbucks this week.
  • Should Washington state buy out-of-state ferries?
  • This ski spot in Washington state only costs $10 a day.

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for March 23, 2023.

There is a lot brewing up over at Starbucks. For starters, CEO Howard Schultz has stepped down, again, and has provided a farewell message, again.

"Starbucks truly has been my life‘s work – but more than that, it’s always been about the lives of the millions of partners over the years who have proudly worn the green apron and it’s about the hundreds of thousands more who will join Starbucks in the years to come. It’s about every customer who comes through our doors. It’s about the communities our stores call home. Our company is like a river – the stewards of it will change over time, but it’s always growing and changing, carving a new path and moving forward to something better."

This is the second time Schultz has left the company. He returned last year as the company searched for a new CEO. Then, he stayed on a bit longer to phase in the newly hired leader. As of this week, Laxman Narasimhan is Starbucks' full-time top official.

“I am humbled to officially step into my role as Starbucks chief executive officer, leading our incredible team of more than 450,000 green apron partners around the world...” Narasimhan said in a statement. “As a human connection business, we have limitless possibilities to deliver for our partners, our customers, our investors and our communities through every cup and every connection. I am excited to work alongside our partners worldwide to unlock the limitless future of Starbucks.”

Also this week, many of those green apron partners (Starbucks' term for baristas) went on strike. Starbucks Workers United alleges that the company has fired workers for engaging in union activities. The company denies this and says it has closed stores due to safety concerns. Despite stepping down, Schultz is slated to testify in front of a Senate committee in D.C. about the allegations next week.

If you want to take some time to ponder the issues facing Seattle's coffee giant, consider sipping on Starbucks' virgin olive oil infused coffee line, Oleato. It has finally arrived in Seattle. Oleato is currently at the Starbucks Reserve Roasteries in town (Capitol Hill and SoDo). The "original" location at Pike Place Market is also serving it up.

If you don't want to make a trip to those spots, Oleato will show up at Starbucks shops across Seattle on March 27. At that point, I think we can all start having the discussion over whether this is an intriguing addition to coffee culture, or if it's the next innovation akin to Crystal Pepsi.

If you're riding on a ferry around Puget Sound, that boat was homegrown. For 50 years, the ferries in Washington's fleet have all been built in local shipyards. That could change, however. It appears there is bipartisan support among lawmakers in Olympia to allow new ferries to come from shipyards outside of the state. Washington's fleet is aging, and it wants to get more boats, fast. Specifically, it wants to get five new plug-in hybrid electric ferries.

The idea to nix the "Build in Washington" mandate for ferries is providing a boatload of debate in Olympia. On one hand, you have the immediate need for ferries, and the demand from commuters, and the price tag. On the other hand, you have local labor groups who are eager for the ferry jobs.

"The Build in Washington mandate has and will increase the cost per boat by about 50% while being little if any long-term benefit to our state," Port Townsend resident Tom Thiersch said at a recent hearing at the state Capitol. Thiersch chairs his county's ferry advisory committee. "Subsidizing shipbuilders in Washington is simply not worth it."

Gordon Baxter, a metals trades lobbyist for 12 unions in Washington shipyards, was at the same hearing.

"If we put these out to a nationwide bid without some protection in terms of wages, there's no way that our shipyards can be competitive," he said. "We ask that you not build these boats at the expense of the workforce or businesses in Washington state due to choices we have made to make Washington a better place to do business, live, and work."

Check out the full story here.

Tickets at Washington's ski resorts generally cost more than $100, which is why I haven't been snowboarding in years. As Soundside reports, however, I may not have as much of an excuse anymore. Badger Mountain Ski Area is located in Central Washington and cost $10 a day.

There are snowcats at Badger Mountain, a lodge serving up $7 burger meals, and ski lifts, too. But there are a few differences from your average resort. It's only open weekends, and the entire ope

ration is staffed by volunteers. Yep — local ski enthusiasts who love their hill. "You know, it's a really good feeling, and without the volunteers that wouldn't be here, there's just no way, like people take all walks of life … engineers, doctors, physician's assistants, contractors, people take the time out of their busy day, their weekend where they'd like to stay home or maybe watch football, but they'll they come down and volunteer," General Manager Steve Hickman said. "I just like to think that it's a really good public service. And it's amazing that it works every day. It's a miracle we run."

Soundside has the full story here.


The Palouse, Eastern Washington, Pullman
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Yii Kah Hoe, a Malaysian composer, soundscape artist, and current Fulbright Scholar in Residence at Washington State University incorporated the sounds of the Palouse into his latest composition, "Of This Land." For the piece, Yii wove the field recordings with English Horn and a baritone singer. He said he chose the English horn for two reasons. First: It was similar to the sound sculpture. (Caleb Riston)


When General Motors held a live press conference in Detroit to debut the Chevy Camaro in 1966, officials were first asked what a "Camaro" even was. GM had been naming its models with words that start with "C" for a while (Chevelle, Corvette), so Camaro fit with that. One of the managers responded that a Camaro is "a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs." At the time, the Ford Mustang was trampling its competition, and GM wanted a pony car to compete with it. The Pontiac Firebird is another model that emerged in this class for the same reason. The truth is that GM managers were flipping through a 1930s French/English dictionary and came across a slang term for "comrade" or "friend" — camaro. From there, a car that was your pal became the Camero brand.

Now, it seems that it's time to say goodbye to this old pal. After 57 years, the Chevy Camaro, as we know it, will soon be discontinued. The last model of the Camaro's sixth generation will roll off the factory line in January 2024. Though, Chevy VP Scott Bell has said that "this is not the end of Camaro's story." The company is not giving any details on what that exactly means. Is Chevy redesigning the car for a seventh generation model? Is the Camaro coming back as a muscle EV? It should be interesting to see what GM decides to do.

And while you're at it GM, can we please get back the Trans Am?


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