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Starbucks has announced long-awaited plans to phase out plastic straws. The company will replace them with a strawless lid that looks a bit like a child’s sippy cup. They’ll also be offering straws made out of alternative materials such as paper and corn-based plastics that can be composted.

The policy applies to all of Starbucks’ stores around the globe. It is to be implemented worldwide, by 2020. The company says this builds on a $10 million commitment it made in March to work harder on creating truly recyclable cups.

Starbucks announced on Monday it plans to eliminate plastic straws from its 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.

The company will broaden the manufacture and use of what some in social media have dubbed the "adult sippy cup." It's a plastic strawless lid that will come to replace single-use plastic straws that now inundate its coffee shops.

A simultaneous training session for 175,000 employees, across more than 8,000 stores — that's what Starbucks is doing Tuesday, urging its workers and managers to discuss racial bias and respect following the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia store last month.

For the sessions, many Starbucks stores will shut down in the afternoon and stay closed for several hours. A sign at one location in Chicago, for instance, says the store will be locking its doors at 2:30 p.m. and reopening on Wednesday. Other stores have posted similar notices.

Ron Todt / AP Photo

Starbucks is planning to close 8,000 of its U.S. stores for an afternoon next month to conduct racial-bias training.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

So how exactly can your neighborhood coffee store shut down for a few hours and then reopen with a little less bias? That's what Starbucks proposes to do after a much publicized arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. Here's Simone Alicea of KNKX in Seattle.

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

Starbucks is closing thousands of stores across the U.S. on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct "racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores," the company said in a statement.

Mr. Jincks Flickr via Compfigh cc

The pressure is on Starbucks to create a disposable coffee cup that doesn’t end up in the trash. After a lengthy campaign that featured a huge puppet made of discarded cups and a petition with more than 800,000 signatures, the company announced a new $10 million initiative to develop a cup that is fully recyclable or compostable. 

courtesy Stand.earth

A group of protestors is camping outside of Starbucks headquarters in Seattle, demanding a fully recyclable paper cup for its coffee beverages. They plan to be there all week.

Bellingham-based Stand.earth started camping out Monday. 

If ever a drink were concocted to quench the thirst of social media, this may be it.

With its whimsical name, bright pink and blue swirl topped with a pillow of whipped cream and a pixie dusting of sprinkles, Starbucks' new Unicorn Frappuccino practically pleads to be posted.

And a glimpse at Twitter shows the frozen confection is indeed gaining attention.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Starbucks has long taken on the mantle of socially conscious retailer. The Seattle-based coffee chain pledged commitment to those endeavors at Wednesday's annual shareholders meeting at McCaw Hall.

Rick Maiman/AP Images for Starbucks

Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz is stepping down as CEO of the coffee chain he joined more than 30 years ago and transformed into a globally known brand.

Schultz will become executive chairman in April to focus on innovation such as high-end shops and social impact activities, the Seattle-based chain announced Thursday. Kevin Johnson, who was named president and chief operating officer last year, will be chief executive as of April 3.

Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine / Flickr

More than 11,000 people have signed an online petition saying Starbucks has been cutting workers’ hours, leading to low morale. 

The petition is the brainchild of Jaime Prater, an artist who’s worked for Starbucks off and on for a total of nine years. Right now he works as a barista at a Starbucks in Southern California. 

Courtesy Howard Behar

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Office of Financial Management estimates Washington Initiative 732 will cost as much as $900 million per year. OFM’s analysis concluded the bill would cost as much as $900 million over four years.

Former Starbucks International President Howard Behar is one of three executives responsible for taking the coffee giant from a small regional chain to an international powerhouse. He’s also the author of popular business books that argue a big part of the company’s success has been its focus on putting people ahead of profits.

100,000 Opportunities Initiative

If you’re between the ages of 16 and 24 and looking for a job, head to Seattle’s Centurylink Field on Thursday to meet with hiring managers from companies including Microsoft, T-Mobile and Starbucks.

It's about 6:30 in the morning at a Starbucks near Santa Monica beach, and David Rodriguez Ordunez is checking Facebook while charging his phone.

He's one of 44,000 people living on the streets in and around Los Angeles — and he's one of three homeless people at the coffee shop this morning.

"Since there's Internet here, that's mainly one of the purposes. I've usually got to find locations to actually have access," Ordunez explains.

Why Starbucks instead of the library? "Well, the library opens like at 10 o'clock or something," he says.

It sounds like a joke. A goat walked into a Starbucks ...

But it's true.

It happened a couple of days ago in Rohnert Park, Calif., when a goat whose name is Millie somehow got away from her home and ambled over to the nearby strip mall. Employees dangled a banana in front of the goat in the hope of apprehending her, but she preferred to chew on a cardboard box. Police officers took the ruminant to an animal shelter, where her owner reportedly reclaimed her.

Saying that it will finally do business in the country that helped inspire its approach to coffee, Starbucks has announced plans to open its first store in Italy early next year, venturing into the cradle of espresso.

Saying that it is making the move "with humility and respect," Starbucks announced that its first store in Italy will be in Milan.

From Rome, NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports:

Eugene Hoshiko / AP

Starbucks shares fell about 4 percent after the close of regular trading on Thursday after the company reported fiscal first-quarter results. 

In China, sales growth at the company's stores that have been open at least a year showed a slowdown, adding to recent concerns about the health of that country’s economy. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he will contribute $30 million toward a nationwide program to hire low income 16-to-24-year olds. 

Elaine Thompson / AP

That Starbucks around the corner from your house may be draining your wallet, latte by latte. But if you’re a homeowner, it may be paying off for you in other ways, in the value of your home, for example.

That’s one of the eye-catching findings that two executives of the Seattle-based real estate data firm Zillow reveal in their recent book, "Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate."

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Listen closely to the music playing next time you’re grabbing coffee at Starbucks. If it’s a relaxing piano piece, it might just be the work of Tacoma teenager Marc Estabrook.

Sam Howzit / Flickr

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz says his company is facing a "tidal wave of change" as people buy more online and less in brick and mortar stores, so he’s outlined a plan to attract even more people to his cafes even in the age of e-commerce. 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says a $15 per hour minimum wage in Seattle may not have such a big effect on his company, but he’s concerned it would hit small- and medium-sized businesses hard.

The issue of raising the minimum wage has dominated headlines in Seattle ever since Kshama Sawant, who has been pushing for the increase, won a city council seat last fall.

Beautiful Existence

The year 2013 was the Year of Starbucks for one Seattle woman who survived only on foods and drinks she bought at Starbucks cafes.

The woman, named Beautiful Existence, says she’d often thought about taking on the task. After all, yearlong experiments were nothing new to Existence, who challenged herself to shop only at Goodwill for the entire year of 2011.

Allison Moore

The coffee world has been abuzz lately with news of barista robots—machines that can custom-make a cappuccino or chai latte. Naturally, the question becomes whether the world’s largest coffee chain, Seattle-based Starbucks, would replace humans with automation. 

In a world where robots build cars, fulfill orders in Amazon warehouses and paint the wings on Boeing’s 777 jet, making a latte by machine isn’t that much of a leap.

The Associated Press

An arbitrator has concluded that Starbucks must pay $2.76 billion to settle a dispute with Kraft over coffee distribution.

The two consumer products companies had been locked in a fight after Starbucks Corp. fired Kraft as its distributor of packaged coffee to grocery chains in 2010.

In recent years, companies ranging from JPMorgan Chase to Walmart to Boeing have announced special hiring programs for veterans. Seattle coffee giant Starbucks is the latest.

All of these companies are trying to bring down a stubbornly high unemployment rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But to succeed, companies have to take the time to understand the skills of service members.

AP Photo

Starbucks says its profit rose 34 percent in its fiscal fourth-quarter, as the coffee chain attracted more customers around the world.

The Seattle-based company said global sales rose 7 percent at cafes open at least a year, including an 8 percent rise in both the U.S. and Asia.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Starbucks says it will ask customers and businesses to sign a petition calling for an end to the partial government shutdown that has forced hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job.

The petition will will be available at all Starbucks 11,000 U.S. locations to sign beginning Friday.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Starbucks says guns are no longer welcome in its cafes, though it is stopping short of an outright ban on firearms.

The fine line that the retailer is walking to address the concerns of both gun rights and gun control advocates reflects how heated the issue has become, particularly in light of recent mass shootings.

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