Transforming Lives, One Sip and Stock at a Time: Starbucks Employee Stock Journey

In this post, we’ll unravel the intricacies of the Starbucks Employee Stock program, aptly named “Bean Stock”. We’ll delve into how the company’s stock-sharing strategy benefits employees and contributes to its overall success.

If you’re a Starbucks partner, a potential investor, or simply curious about this unique aspect of Starbucks’ corporate strategy, this comprehensive guide will enlighten you on how a global coffee brand shares its success with its workforce.

Key Takeaways

  • Employee stock ownership, like Starbucks’ Bean Stock, provides a direct incentive for employees to contribute to the company’s success.
  • Stock ownership can enhance employees’ sense of belonging and responsibility towards the company.
  • Starbucks’ inclusive approach, extending stock benefits to all levels of employees, sets it apart from many other companies.
  • Diversifying stock portfolios is crucial to ensuring financial security and reducing investment risks.
  • Despite market fluctuations, Starbucks has consistently delivered steady growth, making its stock a potentially valuable asset for employees.

What Is Bean Stock?

Bean Stock is Starbucks’ way of sharing its success with its employees, whom the company refers to as “partners”. Initiated by Howard Schultz, the program grants Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) to eligible employees. Essentially, these RSUs are shares of Starbucks’ stock, providing partners with a stake in the company’s success. This form of equity compensation is a common way for companies to incentivize their workforce.

How Does Bean Stock Work?

Starbucks grants Bean Stock annually to eligible partners in the form of RSUs. Each grant represents the right to receive shares of Starbucks stock after a specified vesting period. Usually, RSUs vest over a period of two years from the grant date, with half vesting after one year and the remaining half after two years. However, the partner must be continuously employed during that waiting period to receive these shares. This process is called vesting.

What is Starbucks’ Bean Stock Program?

Starbucks has revolutionized employee benefits in the retail industry by offering a unique stock program, the ‘Bean Stock’ program. Established in 1985 by CEO Howard Schultz, the Bean Stock program is a testament to Starbucks’ commitment to making its partners (a term Starbucks uses to refer to its employees) shareholders of the company’s success. This program is more than just a benefit—it represents the company’s trust in its partners and its wish to see them prosper alongside the organization.

Who Is Eligible for Starbucks’ Bean Stock?

The eligibility for Starbucks’ Bean Stock program is quite inclusive. Full-time and part-time Starbucks partners, from baristas to store managers, are eligible to participate. The company considers a variety of factors to determine eligibility, including tenure, performance, and role. Starbucks firmly believes that every partner who contributes to the company’s success should have a stake in it.

How Does the Granting of Stock Work?

Each November, eligible Starbucks employees receive a Bean Stock grant, the size of which depends on the employee’s role and tenure with the company. The grant comes in the form of RSUs, which vest over time. The vesting process typically occurs over two years from the grant date, with employees receiving half of the grant after the first year and the remaining half after the second year, as long as they continue their employment with Starbucks.

What Happens When the Stock Price Goes Up or Down?

The Bean Stock program aligns the interests of Starbucks employees with the success of the company. As the stock price rises, the value of the vested RSUs also increases, providing employees with a direct incentive to contribute to the company’s growth. However, if the stock price falls, the value of the vested RSUs also declines, signifying the inherent risks of stock ownership. Despite market fluctuations, the stock program provides Starbucks employees with an ongoing opportunity to participate in the company’s financial success.

How are Starbucks Stock Options Taxed?

Starbucks employees need to consider tax implications when they receive or sell their vested RSUs. In most cases, the value of the vested RSUs is considered ordinary income and is subject to income tax. If the vested shares are held for more than a year and then sold, any gain may be taxed as long-term capital gains, which is usually lower than ordinary income tax rates. However, tax laws can be complex, so employees should consult a tax professional or financial advisor for personalized advice.

Why Does Starbucks Offer Bean Stock to Its Employees?

Starbucks’ Bean Stock program is more than just an employee benefit; it’s a strategic business decision. By offering Bean Stock, Starbucks allows its partners to share in the company’s success. This serves to heighten employee engagement and loyalty, creating a win-win situation for both the company and its partners. The program encourages partners to take risks and innovate, fostering a culture of ownership that has helped Starbucks remain one of the industry leaders.

What Happens When the Starbucks Stock Price Changes?

The value of Bean Stock grants is directly linked to Starbucks’ stock price. If the stock price goes up, the value of vested RSUs also increases. Conversely, a decrease in stock price reduces the value of RSUs. This structure aligns the interests of Starbucks partners with the company’s shareholders, promoting a collective focus on the success of the company.

How Does Bean Stock Differ From Other Stock Options?

The Bean Stock program offers RSUs, a type of equity compensation different from traditional stock options. Unlike incentive stock options (ISOs), RSUs give the right to receive shares only after a vesting period. Furthermore, the value of RSUs is not affected by the stock price at the time of the grant. These unique features of RSUs make Bean Stock a more predictable and stable form of stock compensation for Starbucks partners.

How Can Starbucks Partners Diversify Their Stock Portfolio?

Owning Starbucks stock is an exciting opportunity, but it’s crucial to remember the importance of portfolio diversification. The Starbucks HR team encourages employees to consider other investment options and not rely solely on Starbucks stock. This could include investing in a 401k retirement plan or other investment securities on the NASDAQ or other stock markets, ensuring that employees have a well-balanced investment portfolio.

How has Starbucks Stock Performed in Recent Years?

Since its IPO in 1992, Starbucks has shown steady growth, with the stock price reaching new heights in 2023. Despite challenges faced during the pandemic in 2021, Starbucks has demonstrated resilience and adaptability, which was reflected in its robust Q3 earnings in 2023. This has further heightened the attractiveness of its Bean Stock program.

How Does Starbucks Compare to Other Retail Industry Leaders?

In the retail industry, Starbucks stands out as a leader in employee benefits, particularly with its stock ownership program. While other companies offer stock options to their employees, Starbucks’ inclusive approach, offering stock benefits to part-time employees as well, sets a new standard in the industry.

What Are the Tax Implications of Receiving Bean Stock?

Once RSUs vest, they are considered taxable income. Starbucks partners are liable to pay ordinary income tax on the fair market value of the shares received. However, if partners decide to hold these shares and sell them later at a higher price, the difference would be taxed as long-term capital gains. It is advisable for partners to consult a tax advisor or broker to understand these implications better.

How Can Starbucks Partners Make the Most of Their Bean Stock?

Partners can either hold or sell the shares once their RSUs vest. Holding the shares allows partners to potentially benefit from any increases in Starbucks’ stock price. However, selling the shares allows partners to realize immediate gains and diversify their investment portfolio. The best course of action will depend on individual financial goals and risk tolerance.

How Has Bean Stock Impacted Starbucks’ Success in 2023?

As of Q3 2023, Starbucks’ stock (SBUX) is performing well on the NASDAQ, and a significant part of this success can be attributed to the Bean Stock program. The program has fostered a strong culture of ownership among Starbucks partners. This has led to high levels of employee engagement and customer satisfaction, translating into sustained business growth.

What Does the Future Hold for Bean Stock?

Looking ahead, the Bean Stock program is poised to remain a core component of Starbucks’ business strategy. As the retail industry becomes more competitive, the program offers a unique advantage in attracting and retaining top talent. Moreover, as Starbucks continues to grow, the program stands to provide even greater benefits to partners and shareholders alike.


1. What happens to my Bean Stock if I leave Starbucks?

Upon leaving Starbucks, your vested shares remain yours, and you can choose to hold or sell them. However, any unvested shares will typically be forfeited upon your exit.

2. Do Starbucks employees receive dividends from their shares?

Yes, Starbucks partners who own shares through the Bean Stock program do receive dividends when the company declares them, providing an additional income source.

3. Can I gift or transfer my Starbucks stock to someone else?

Generally, you can transfer or gift your vested Starbucks shares to someone else. However, it’s important to understand the tax implications and potential gift tax. It’s recommended to consult with a tax advisor or broker for specific advice.

4. How are international Starbucks partners included in the Bean Stock program?

International partners can also participate in the Bean Stock program. While there may be slight variations in taxation and regulations based on the country, the fundamental aspects of the program remain the same.

5. Can Starbucks stock be included in my retirement plan?

Yes, Starbucks stock can be included as part of your retirement plan or investment portfolio. Remember, however, that it’s essential to maintain a diversified portfolio to manage risk effectively.

6. How is the number of shares in my grant determined?

The number of shares granted to each partner is determined by a combination of factors, including your role, length of service at Starbucks, and the company’s performance. The specifics are outlined each year in the Bean Stock grant notification.

7. How can I track the progress of my Starbucks stock?

Starbucks partners can monitor their stock grants, vesting schedules, and more through the Fidelity NetBenefits website, Starbucks’ plan administrator for the Bean Stock program.

8. Can Starbucks stock be sold at any time?

Once your RSUs vest, they convert into actual shares of Starbucks stock that you own. You can sell these shares at any time, but remember to consider the tax implications of selling your shares.


In conclusion, the Starbucks Bean Stock program not only transforms the lives of its partners by providing them with financial security and a stake in the company’s success, but it also continues to redefine corporate benefits in the retail industry. Starbucks’ investment in its employees resonates with its mission to “inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time”.


  • Oliver Bennett

    Oliver Bennett, a passionate writer from the UK, specializes in the coffee industry and has a particular focus on the Starbucks partner community. With his in-depth understanding of the coffee culture in the UK and his extensive research on Starbucks partners, Oliver provides unique and valuable perspectives to our content. His articles and guides offer practical advice, insider tips, and thoughtful analysis, establishing him as an authority in the field. Oliver's ability to connect with readers through his writing style and his commitment to staying up-to-date with industry trends make him a trusted author on our team. Bennett Oliver

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