A Starbucks employees readies a beverage for a customer in a New York City store in 2003.
Photo: Stephen Chernin (Getty Images)

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s announcement that he is considering running for president as a “centrist independent” was met with a venti cup of criticism. Most of the arguments against his candidacy can be swiftly summed up by this protester who heckled him during a Barnes & Noble appearance on Monday: “Don’t help elect Trump, you egotistical billionaire asshole!”

Everyone has an opinion on his potential candidacy, and of course Americans want to share those opinions with their underpaid sounding boards: Starbucks baristas. So concerned is Starbucks about these potential Schultz-centric conversations between workers and customers that the chain included some talking points on the subject in its weekly employee memo. The Huffington Post obtained a copy of the memo, which urges staff to “diffuse [sic] the situation” by calming down any customers who are trying to “share aggressive political opinions.”

Also, the memo would really like Starbucks employees to read Schultz’s book, a copy of which has been mailed to each U.S. Starbucks store. (Employees are to tell inquiring customers that the book will not be for sale at Starbucks locations.) The memo continues: If members of the public push baristas for details about Schultz’s potential presidential run, workers should answer that “We respect everyone’s opinion. Our goal is simply to create a warm and welcoming space where we can all gather, as a community, over great coffee,” which is not at all robotic and is definitely how a normal person would phrase the sentiment.

Lastly, should the customer continue to ask about his possible candidacy, Starbucks employees are instructed to shut the conversation down with: “Howard’s future plans are up to him.” Howard. You know, Howie S. Schultz-er. The Schultzman. Big S. El Jefe. If you think this whole memo is as strange as I do, please refrain from asking your barista political questions, and remember to tip nicely.

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