Starbucks did not pay for one of its iconic coffee cups to be surreptitiously left in a scene of “Game of Thrones.”
On Monday, HBO confirmed to INSIDER that the rogue coffee spotted in a scene of the eighth season’s fourth episode, “The Last of the Starks,” was from the set’s craft services, which serves drinks and food to the cast and crew.
The television network also joked that the latte that appeared on the episode was a mistake: “Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea.”
However, the cardboard takeaway cup has become so synonymous with the Seattle-based coffee chain that everyone just (wrongly) assumed that it was theirs.
The scale of the fantasy series and the virality of the anachronistic cup are such that experts say Starbucks has earned millions in free publicity.
Stacy Jones, the CEO of the marketing agency Hollywood Branded, which specializes in product placement, told INSIDER that Starbucks would’ve had to pay $250,000 to $1 million for one of its containers to be gratuitously left in front of the Mother of Dragons.
“If we were looking at this in the grand scheme of things and we were comparing ‘Game of Thrones’ to the other largest-watched content out there … you’re looking at the $250,000 to $1 million range for product placement where that product was positioned with a very central character,” Jones said.
However, she stipulated that HBO “doesn’t take dollars” from advertisers in its content because its customers are paying for an ad-free experience: “They [HBO] believe their audience should not pay for their content as well as have brands feature that are paying to be in their content.”
Despite the fact that Starbucks couldn’t have even paid HBO for the cup placement if they wanted to, Jones said the publicity value for the coffee company has risen into the billions.
Using metrics from media monitoring platform Critical Mention, Jones said the overall PR value for Starbucks was in the region of $2.3 billion — and that figure is still rising.
“This has to be one of the biggest, and most positive, PR values in the history of advertising,” Jones said.
“And while yes, HBO doesn’t look awesome for forgetting that cup during their continuity checks and filming processes, it has tremendous positive value for the show as well. Fans – and non-fans – are all talking.
“Starbucks is experiencing a windfall.”
Jones said that it was a testament to the coffee chain’s branding that everyone just assumes any coffee cup — “even if it’s dark and blurry” — is going to be from Starbucks.
HBO did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
A Twitter spokeswoman told MarketWatch that Starbucks tweets were running at 10 times their average hourly tweets on Monday morning.
“There have been more than 310,000 tweets today, and I’d say on an average normal day there are usually less than 100,000 tweets,” she said.
When contacted by Business Insider, Starbucks referred us to its earlier statement, which read: “TBH we’re surprised she didn’t order a Dragon Drink.”
The pink beverage Starbucks was referring to is a “tropical-inspired pick-me-up [that] is crafted with a refreshing combination of sweet mango and dragon fruit flavors,” according to the company’s website.
“Thrones” executive producer Bernie Caulfield apologized for the blooper on WNYC on Monday, jokingly adding: “Westeros was the first place to actually, you know, have Starbucks.”
Meanwhile, production designer Hauke Richter told Variety that “things can get forgotten on set,” and that the anachronistic coffee was getting “blown out of proportion [because] it has not happened with ‘Thrones’ so far.”
For more background moments like this you might have missed, read our breakdown of 12 details from Sunday’s “Game of Thrones.”
[WARNING: The following contains spoilers from “Game of Thrones”]
The cup, which was first spotted by a Reddit user, appears during a scene from Season 8, Episode 4, while Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane celebrate the victory over the Night King.
The camera pans to Daenerys Targaryen, who is sipping wine when an object from out of the realm appears sitting on the table: a disposable coffee cup that was left while the scene was being prepped.
Despite HBO issuing an apology admitting the cup “was a mistake,” fans took to Reddit again, this time to point the blame towards Sophie Turner.
An eagle-eyed fan noted that Turner, who plays Sansa Stark in the fantasy series, was seen in a photo on social media holding the same brand of coffee cup that appeared in Sunday night’s episode.
“[That feeling when] you purposely leave your coffee in front of Dany knowing she’ll get all the blame,” a user posted in reference to the tension between Sansa and Daenerys.
A rep for Turner did not return Fox News’ request for comment.
HBO confirmed to us on Tuesday that the cup had been digitally removed from the episode.
HOOVER, AL (WBRC) – The smell of fresh coffee now fills the air in Bluff Park, and cars fill the parking lot in front of the new Wild Roast Café. When you walk inside, you instantly realize it is different from most modern coffee shops. There is every kind of seating imaginable, from cozy café tables for two, to a dinning room size table full of puzzles, and couches for lounging. There is even a kids area in the back full of blocks, a train table and a toy kitchen.
“We want everyone to feel like it’s their living room. We want people to feel very comfortable and welcome here,” explained Bart Styes. He and his wife Shannon opened the café together.
“We both love coffee. It’s always been my wife’s dream to have her own business,” explained Bart. The couple lives in Bluff Park and realized that there wasn’t anything like it in the area, and neighbors really wanted it.
“We live here, our kids go to school down the street, and it was just one of those things that we thought what a perfect place, across the street from Tip Top [Grill] and lovers’ leap. What an incredible view, and it’s a community that was underserved with a coffee shop,” explained Bart.
Whether you’re grabbing a quick caffeine fix on the way to work, or grabbing a book and going to relax over a cup of tea, the Styes hope everyone will feel comfortable there.
Then there’s the menu. It’s creative and quirky, full of Alabama flare.
“We take our coffee and our quality very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves very seriously,” explained Bart. “We have a lot of fun with our menu items. My wife Shannon comes up with really creative fun recipes. A lot of them have Alabama roots.”
There is the Hank Sr., which has a bourbon flavor syrup to it, the “Harper latte” for Haper Lee, which is a little like drinking a blackberry cobbler. The crowd pleaser, is the OREO Speedwagon, which is a frozen mocha drink that has people hooked.
“We have a ton of fun. If you are a black coffee drinker, like me, you love house roast. It’s very high quality. But if you want a dessert in a cup, we can do anything on that spectrum and anything in between,” said Bart.
The Styes have teamed up with O’Henry’s Coffee for help roasting their beans and coming up with their own house roast.
“They have been wonderful supporters and coaches along the way,” said Bart.
Wild Roast Café is in the space that once was the music venue Moonlight on the Mountain. The Styes hope to keep that tradition of supporting local artists alive. They have pieces from local artists for sale, as well as unique goods from around the country.
“We wanted Wild Roast Café to be, we call it a caffeinated community of artists and neighbors who are brewing up something good. We want people to come and be inspired, whether they buy art here, or listen to music here, or write the next great American novel here, or they are inspired to open their own business because we had a great conversation with them over a good cup of coffee,” Bart continued.
They are applying for a conditional use permit with the City of Hoover to be able to hold events like concerts with local artists in the evenings.
“We were able to follow our dream here, and we hope that other people are able to launch their dreams because we are in business,” Bart said.
The Styes also hope that families with young children will feel welcome in Wild Roast.
“My wife and I remember how it was like to be new parents, and a lot of the fun places we would go and hang out, all of the sudden when you have a stroller, it feels like those were now off limits to you,” said Bart. “We wanted parents to know that you can still go to a cool place to hang out and be welcome with kids.”
That’s why they set up the children’s play area, and so far it’s been a huge hit. They had a Saturday arts and craft session, and a group of neighborhood moms who met at the café to support and learn from each other.
Wild Roast Café is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cat Tales Cat Café
431 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, cattalescatcafe.com
Shortly after six on a Tuesday evening in April, ten young professionals gather at a cafe in Chapel Hill. Led by a teacher from Franklin Street Yoga, they go through the normal array of postures—child’s pose, downward dog, warrior I, cat and cow—like any other yoga session.
The only difference: There are cats everywhere.
This is Cat Tales, a new cat cafe that opened on Valentine’s Day. The class is the second in a soon-to-be-monthly series of cat yoga offerings, appealing to cat people and yoga people alike. (Disclosure: I am the very embodiment of the target demo.)
Most of the time, there’s no yoga. There are prepackaged treats to munch on, like cupcakes from Pittsboro’s Phoenix Bakery, as well as an assortment of coffee, beer, and wine. And there are always cats—and those cats are always looking for a good home.
“We just had our sixteenth adoption about thirty minutes ago,” co-owner and manager Katy Poitras told me during a recent afternoon visit.
The two-story glass-walled building facing Franklin Street is a cat’s paradise. Sunbeams pour in midday, ideal for an afternoon nap. Cat trees and scratch boxes are dispersed throughout both levels, gifting each creature an opportunity to snooze, snuggle, hide—or whatever strikes their fancy. Plush pillows and blankets in pastel pinks and blues adorn a couple of soft and squishy couches, perfect for kneading and nesting, and, of course, being worshipped by humans.
It’s feline siesta time. Each day, the cafe closes for about an hour to give the cats a break from human visitors, which might account for their cordial behavior.
“People are always pleasantly surprised by how social and friendly the cats are,” Poitras says, as Alistair, a seven-month-old part-Bengal who has already surpassed the size of an average housecat, nuzzles my forearm.
Alistair, who does not like to be picked up, enjoys my head scratches and neck rubs. I learn that he’s an enthusiastic swimmer, a trait of his breed; his previous foster parent discovered him paddling around in a bathtub filled with water during Hurricane Florence.
Like the other cats here, Alistair comes from the Goathouse Refuge, a nonprofit no-kill sanctuary in Pittsboro that currently has about three hundred cats in its care. Poitras and co-owner Ilene Speizer partnered with Goathouse to help find cats who’ve been in foster care a permanent home. Cat Tales keeps twelve cats at a time, ranging from seven months to a year old. When one is adopted, another is on deck.
The cafe’s origins were fortuitous. A year ago, Poitras and Speizer were independently scoping out spaces for cat cafes in Chapel Hill. Their parallel efforts—from talking to the health department and county animal services to reaching out to Goathouse—led them to the same space, just a day apart, though it wasn’t the location where they eventually ended up. The landlord connected them. They met and decided that, rather than compete, they should work together, with Poitras managing the operation while Speizer, a research professor at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, would work behind the scenes.
“The community response has been outstanding, supportive, and enthusiastic, way before we even opened,” says Poitras.
From the beginning, Cat Tales, which recommends reservations—yes, you can reserve it for parties—has been consistently booked, especially on weekends. According to Poitras, it’s the Triangle’s first and only officially licensed cat cafe—and the fourth in the state—for now, anyway.
This fall, Purr Cup Café will open near downtown Raleigh.
Contact food and digital editor Andrea Rice at [email protected]
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What if a coffee subscription actually learned what types of coffee you liked and then sent you those coffees on a regular basis? It would be like Pandora, but for coffee—and you know, would also work, unlike whatever that Music Genome Project does. That’s the idea behind Trade Coffee, a coffee subscription service that tailors what it sends to each customer based upon their feedback from coffees past.
It’s a very cool concept, having over 400 coffees available to choose from when picking the best coffee for an individual. Except when you have a single coffee that will be at the top of everyone’s wish list. In this case, that coffee is a Trade-exclusive offering roasted by none other than Shelby Williamson, the head roaster at Denver’s Huckleberry Roasters and the 2019 US Roasters Championship.
The coffee—Trade’s first exclusive—is a Bourbon variety that comes from the Gitwe mountain in Burundi’s northern Kayanza province. Sourced through the Long Miles Coffee Project, the wash processed Gitwe with “notes of cola and a veritable rainbow of fruit flavors.”
This isn’t the first time Trade and Williamson via Huckleberry have collaborated. As Trade’s Director of Coffee Erika Vonie tells is:
Every so often, excellence and story intersect into an overall experience that deserves even more attention… I had the pleasure of meeting Shelby last year when I traveled to Colorado for Coffee Fest Denver, and to say she’s enthusiastic about quality is an extreme understatement. Shelby let us tag along for a day in the life of a roaster and she dropped this gem, “Roasting isn’t the most glamorous job, though on Instagram it looks like we stop just short of coffee deities.”
Unbeknownst to Shelby, a few short weeks later she would take home the top title at the United Stated Roaster Championship, thus solidifying herself as a coffee deity. Shelby’s tenacity for roasting and her commitment to quality shine through in every bag Huckleberry sends us and every coffee they roast for you. Her reign is entirely deserved, which makes our latest project especially, well, special.
Only 500 bags of the Trade-exclusive Burundi Gitwe from Huckleberry Roasters and Shelby Williamson will be made. They are available for purchase via Trade’s official website for $21.50 per 12-ounce bag. Or, if you choose to subscribe, you can take 30% off your first order as well as receive free shipping. Not a bad deal for getting to taste a very cool coffee roasted by one of the best roasters in America. For more information, visit Trade Coffee’s official website.
Top image via Trade Coffee
Disclosure: Trade Coffee is an advertising partner with the Sprudge Media Network