The promotion aims to urge lawmakers -- or anyone with opposing views -- to "come together." Customers who "pay it forward" can get one of three tall brewed drinks for free.
CEO Howard Schultz wrote an open letter announcing the promotion Tuesday.
"The U.S. federal government shutdown, the pending debt and default crisis, waning consumer confidence and the general sense of unease these and other events have instilled in the minds of so many have created another period of uncertainty in our country," Schultz wrote
"Faced with this seemingly unending cycle of dysfunction and doubt, it would be understandable if many of us -- and our customers -- felt cynical, powerless or disengaged," he wrote.
Schultz went on to say that even though Starbucks is "just a coffee company" they can make a difference "one cup and one customer at a time."
Starbucks is not the first company to promote giveaways or discounts during the government shutdown, and Schultz admits free coffee is a "small gesture." In fact, it's an upgraded gesture from the "fiscal cliff" deliberations in December 2012, when Schultz directed baristas to write the phrase "Come Together" on drink cups for two days.
But that small gesture is another small but effective PR move for the coffee company as most Americans are fed up with partisan gridlock, no matter which side they blame. And both conservatives and liberals drink Starbucks coffee, after all.
"It's that simple: Pay it forward, and Starbucks will pay you back," Schultz wrote. "I believe you will agree that this is a different yet authentic way Starbucks can help our fellow citizens to come together by supporting one another during a particularly challenging time."