Movies & TV

An Investigation Into the Game of Thrones Coffee Cup Cameo

A needlessly thorough deep dive into the origins and purpose of Westeros' only to-go coffee cup.
IMAGE HBO
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In last night's Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen realizes her lover/nephew Jon Snow could throw off her conquest of Westeros. While everyone is having a well-deserved drink after the Battle of Winterfell, Dany is brooding in a corner watching the people of the North as they celebrate their fearless leader Jon Snow—a man who secretly has a stronger claim to the Iron Throne. But, during this scene, the camera pans out to reveal the dining hall of a Medieval Castle … with a very modern-looking to-go cup placed in front of the Mother of Dragons. Fans immediately assumed it was the familiar sight of a Starbucks cup—with a white lid and cardboard sleeve. But a closer look reveals that might not be the familiar green mermaid on the logo. The image begged a lot of questions: Is that really a Starbucks cup? How in the world did it end up in the shot? Whose drink is it? Does Winterfell have a hip coffee joint where young queens can get caffeinated while contemplating continental domination?

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Is it even a Starbucks Cup?


While we may never know exactly what the hell the Night King was or what he wanted, this mysterious coffee cup is yet another answer that Game of Thrones fans deserve. So, we launched a very important investigation into the origin and purpose of said coffee cup

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We all saw a take-out coffee cup and immediately assumed it was Starbucks—chalk it up to strong branding from the ubiquitous coffee chain. But upon closer inspection, it appears the cup in question is beige, not the instantly recognizable bright white cup we’ve come to know with a cardboard sleeve. The logo appears to be the same size and shape as the circle Starbucks uses for its green mermaid, but the design inside the circle is hard to make out.

Then again, the lighting in the scene is pretty dark, so it could be that the overhead lighting is just hitting the lid, casting a faint shadow on the cup, obscuring the white color.


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The drink is within reaching distance from actress Emilia Clarke, so the cup in question presumably belongs to the actress. In a paparazzi photo from last summer, Clarke was pictured with a suspiciously similar take-out cup. So, that tells us she likes a comforting hot drink while on the go.


But if you take an even closer look at the pap shot, it appears the particular cup she’s carrying bares an incredibly close resemblance to the one in the Game of Thrones shot. It’s beige with a white top and a round logo with a contrasting image inside the circle. The pap shot was taken in Hampstead neighborhood in London. While most of Season Eight of Thrones was shot in Northern Ireland, it’s possible they filmed that particular scene on a set in London. Other explanations: Clarke's favorite coffee chain exists in Northern Ireland, too, or she loves that particular roast so much she demands it on-set, wherever she may be.

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Is it coffee?

If it is, in fact, Clarke’s cup, there’s likely coffee in there—as opposed to matcha or chai. She told InStyle magazine in 2017 that figuring out her perfect coffee order was part of her coming into adulthood (which, same). “There's a special moment that happens as a young adult when you start to find out who you are, what you like, how you take your coffee, the people who make you feel good and who you should be around,” she says.

How did they let a cup slip by?

Thrones is one of the most expensive television shows ever made, with incredibly advanced special effects. How did they let the cup slip by during filming and then again during post-production? One answer is exhaustion. Last week's episode, "The Long Night," was filmed over a grueling 11 weeks during dark, cold nights. The actors and crew are so close to the end of the series they can taste it. So perhaps they simply didn't notice it.

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HBO's Response

When reached for comment, the showrunners were pretty cool about the mistake. They even corrected the fans about their assumptions that it was a coffee that Emilia Clarke was drinking. 

Game of Thrones art director Hauke Richter told Variety that the mistake had been “blown out of proportion.”

“Things can get forgotten on set,” he wrote.

Now HBO has responded to the infamous cup with a statement that reads:

"The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea."

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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