Starbucks schwag: Episode 2-The Via Ready Brew cap OPEN THREAD


Via Ready Brew knit cap

Everybody needs a Starbucks Via Ready Brew cap!

This is episode #2 of ‘Starbucks schwag’.  ‘Schwag’ is the cool stuff that Starbucks produces that is rare and hard to come by but kind of cool (and a tiny bit dorky too).  Quite recently, a Starbucks Via Ready Brew knit cap fell into my hands at the bargain sales price of $15.00. I wanted to share my find with all of you.

Episode #1 of Starbucks schwag was my blog entry featuring a Starbucks lunchbox and other items. The link to that post is here.

I’m not totally sure why Starbucks produced these gray and orange caps.  The gossip I heard was that only a limited number of these caps were made.  There were solid orange caps used in a Via Ready Brew video on Starbucks’ you tube profile, but these gray ones are not the same item. Nonetheless, it’s an authentic Starbucks Via item, and the kind of thing that makes me giggle a little bit to wear.

It’s a toss up which is more beautiful: Via earrings or a Via cap? But since I wear more caps than earrings, I’m going to have to go with the cap!  The previous blog entry on the Via earrings featured earrings produced by either passionate customers or baristas.  If you’re looking to buy one of these caps for yourself, drop by 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea. I don’t know if they still have them but it’s the only place that I’ve seen them around.

On a related note, Starbucks customers on often ask for more Starbucks branded clothing items.  How do all of you feel about that?

Personally, I think clothing items are hard to merchandise. If you’ve ever spent hours with a folding board working in retail, you’ll think twice about Starbucks ever selling logo t-shirts in every store.  I’d hate to see Starbucks more associated with t-shirts than bags of coffee beans.  Here is an example of what I mean from mystarbucksidea:

Starbucks apparel

This is an OPEN thread so feel free to comment on anything related to Starbucks. Click on the “archive” button for an easy way to browse previous blog posts.  Would you wear a Starbucks Via cap this Winter? :)

Thank you Larry Aldrich of Seattle Custom Framing for his assistance with photos in this blog.

StarbucksMelody models the Via cap

StarbucksMelody models the Via cap

Via Ready Brew knit cap logo

Via Ready Brew knit cap logo

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  • LatteRose

    I think some of the artwork on the coffee stamps would look good on t-shirts (or a cap!). Most any of them would translate well to shirts. Like someone said in the archived comments, make them available online only.

  • Steve

    I would definately not be caught in public wearing this even if Starbucks paid me to do their advertising for them!

  • Brad Bauder

    What an awesome cap! It’s ashame that their wasn’t more VIA promotional gear! Mel did you get a VIA launch pin?

  • Karl Dahlquist

    Oh gosh…is that the Ready Brew cap from the Ready Brew Adventure Series on YouTube? (they drove from HQ to Chicago I think?)

  • Venti_Bold

    OMG that’s F-ing awesome!!! 😀

  • Venti_Bold

    BTW, I would so wear it! ;-D

  • AmazonV

    I don’t think i’d wear it, but i think selling starbucks clothes is necessary otherwise other people will make and sell bootleg gear b/c they can’t get real gear – but as others have said make it online only and outsource it to another company (where they approve designs etc but the other company makes and sells then remits a portion of each sale)

  • GAStarbucksGirl

    OH Melody, you’ve made me covet again :-/ I LOVE THE HAT and will have to have one. The VIA earrings I have have been such a hit with customers, many asking where they could buy them, several offering me $$ for them– I’d never part with them! I know it’s not easy on the merchandising end of things to deal with apparel in a retail setting like Starbucks. However, from an advertising perspective I’ve always said, “If other people will market for you– let them do it!”

    As for the ‘Starbucks Schwag’ can I just share how disappointed I am at this juncture with Starbucks? Our store was #1 in VIA sales in the whole southeast region. We were promised ‘Schwag’, we were promised $$$. We worked hard to attain. All we got was VIA tshirts which came in 2 days before Christmas setup and then we were told we couldn’t wear them any longer :-/ disappointment! Fortunately for me, I have a barista friend in TX that sent me an even cooler VIA tshirt weeks before which I was able to wear to work for several weeks– at the envy of my partners. Oh, many customers wanted to know where I got that too and wanted to buy it — marketing failure on Starbucks’ part I believe. As for the $$$ we were promised, now they say we have to have a store party with it :-/ Don’t get me wrong, I love my partners, we have a good chemistry all of us, but many of these partners would way more rather have this $$$ to fill their gas tanks or their child’s empty stocking.

    Thanks for the post! I’ll have me one of these VIA hats soon and I’ll send you pics :-)

  • Steve

    I wouldn’t pay 15 cents for the VIA hat let alone 15 bucks. Starbucks should stick to COFFEE AND COFFEE RELATED DRINKS AND MERCHANDISE ONLY and stay away from the booze or the apparel or music or any other or unrelated business. You’d think they would have learned their lesson when their movie business flopped.

  • Clark Kent

    While I love the VIA brand, this beanie leaves a little wanting – make it look like a VIA packet and I’m there.

  • Chris W

    Branded gear always has to walk a fine line between looking too much like selling out to promote the product, and being so subtle that it does no good in relating to the brand. Every new product has someone pushing too hard thinking that brand is going to be the next Kleenex, but it’s usually just pushed to the back of the drawer after a little while. VIA is a nice niche product, but I’d rather brew my coffee at home traditionally (and much cheaper), or enjoy a nice treat at my neighborhood Starbucks.

  • GAStarbucksGirl

    Melody, My VIA hat is already in the works. I should have it tomorrow. I’ll send you a pic :) thanks for the inspiration!

  • Nathan

    Personally, I think that Starbucks should stay out of the clothing business.

  • Steve

    I agree 100%. Starbucks is a coffee company and should stay out of unrelated businesses.

  • CD

    One of the things that Starbucks has lost along the way to 40,000 stores is its mystique. In trying to be everything to everybody, it has lost a lot of that special something that brought so many into its doors in the first place.

    Schwag certainly has its place but at this point in time when it is so important for Starbucks to regain its focus on its core, I would recommend that it not produce products like this for retail sale (either in stores or online).

    However, as GAStarbucksGirl points out, there is a place for this type of item. I would recommend that they produce these in limited quantity for their employees only. They could be offered as rewards for sales quotas, etc. The rarity would help regain the mystique and offer a unique incentive/badge of honor for employees.

    Juan Valdez at SG has pointed out that the passion is missing with many of the employees at SBUX. Perhaps this could be a small way to bring some of it back.

    On the subject of focus and core, a friend of mine has a blog post on “Less is More” and the impact of the book How Starbucks Saved My Life. Please take a moment to read her post and comment if you feel compelled to do so. The post is at or the link in my name.

    Happy Holidays.


  • CD

    @Melody –

    On the subject of mystique, do you think one of the reasons you like some of the new store concepts is because they bring back some of the mystique (or “romance”) of Starbucks in the 1990s? I don’t mean they are the same as the stores in the 90s, but the experience is more like that in the 90s.

  • Smalrus

    Starbucks schwag should be for sale. At the Sbux I camped out at in NYC during my unemployment, I was like a fake partner… and all I wanted was a shirt.

    So when I finally moved up here for the doctoral program, they gifted me a green apron… better than a shirt, except I never use it 😛

  • Melody

    (Reply to CD and Smalrus) – First off, CD, you’re absolutely right that I soak up the uniqueness of the concept & streetlevel stores because it takes me back in time just a little bit. For me, this is especially true of 15th Ave. Coffee.

    CD you’re right the passion is missing because along the way, as Starbucks tried to be all things to everyone, baristas forgot why they’re there. You can see this on MSI. The percentage of threads even mentioning whole bean coffee, like Gold Coast, or Verona, is probably less than 2 percent.

    Yesterday (Sat. 12-26) afternoon, I walked out of a Starbucks empty-handed, after hearing a “no” to brew on demand. Baristas make no association that they have something to do with real coffee.

    But part of it all is this feeling that people have inside of them when they think they have or are something really unique.

    So, what I am trying to say is that all this ties back together. I am convinced that baristas at the concept stores are more enthusiastic, and partly because they realize they have something special that not every other Starbucks has.

    Schwag plays into the same role. Starbucks should do very limited SMALL quantities of things and use it as rewards, as you suggested, or even possibly, special offers to their most loyal customers (if they know who they are).

    Sorry for typos. It’s early in the morning.

    Whatever it is – Via caps, Starbucks lunch boxes, small batch coffees, etc… — all mystique and joy about the product is forever lost when it gets mass produced on the scale to be distributed to 16,000 stores.

    It goes back to the “dime a dozen” problem Starbucks has that I’ve mentioned many times on SG.

    CD, thank you for your thoughtful post!

    Smalrus, that’s so cool you have a green apron you got as a gift!! I think I’ve seen green aprons for sale on ebay, but it’s a lot more special if it comes from a barista!!!


  • Scooter McGoo

    I know that I will always treasure my gift of Schwag from a certain blogger. The only two 15th AVE Coffee&Tea t-shirts in TX. Thanks again and Have a New Year U can enjoy. Cheers!

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