vulture investigates

Is the Coffee Cup in Game of Thrones Actually From Starbucks?

Photo: HBO

Over its nearly 80-minute run time, Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode “The Last of the Starks” had shocking deaths, a long-anticipated sex scene, and a sequence where an entire fleet of battleships were destroyed by the biggest damn arrows anyone has ever seen. But none of that really matters, because, also, someone left a coffee cup on a table.

On WYNC Monday afternoon, Game of Thrones producer Bernie Caulfield apologized for the error and joked about the cup’s accidental appearance. “Westeros was the first place to actually have Starbucks, it’s a little known fact,” she cracked. “Starbucks, send us money!”

Shortly afterward, Starbucks tweeted its own acknowledgement of the cup’s appearance on the show, with a little reference to the fact that it was sitting next to Daenerys, Mother of Dragons.

Here’s the thing: It’s not a Starbucks cup, and I don’t even think it’s coffee.

Photo: HBO

Let’s take a look at the evidence. In the original screenshot, everything is pretty hard to see. You can spot a white lid, possibly a circular shape on the sleeve, and that’s about it. If you do some CSI-style enhancing, though, the scales start to fall from your eyes. The body of that cup is not white like a Starbucks cup. It is very clearly beige! That circular pattern could be the Starbucks mermaid, but the lighter portions aren’t quite the right shape.

And if you’ll follow me all the way through the looking glass, I’d ask you to pay close attention to the shape immediately next to the cup on the right. Sure, it could be something else just sitting on the table. But it might also be the label of … a tea bag.

Speaking with TMZ, Game of Thrones art director Hauke Richter confirmed that it is not a Starbucks cup, suggesting instead that the cup came from a local coffee shop in Bainbridge, Ireland, near where the show was filming that day. (Which one? Blend and Batch? The Copper Lab? Who knew Bainbridge had so many excellent-looking coffee options!)

In the end, the madness over the Game of Thrones not-Starbucks cup is a good reminder to everyone: We could all stand to take a deep breath and examine our assumptions before we go charging willy-nilly into the dark wilds of coffee-cup misattribution territory. And no matter where you get your caffeinated beverages, remember, a Lannister always tips his barista.

Update 4:51pm: HBO has released a statement about the cup, describing it as a “craft services” cup, which directly contradicts the statement by Richter that identifies it as a cup from a coffee shop in Bainbridge.

Here’s the complete HBO statement:

In response to inquiries from those who saw a craft services coffee cup in Sunday night’s episode of GAME OF THRONES, HBO states, “The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea.”

If you think this mystery is done now, you are sorely mistaken, because an eagle-eyed Twitter user found this extremely notable piece of evidence. Look at the logo! Wake up sheeple!

Is the Game of Thrones Coffee Cup Actually From Starbucks?