Glitch Takes U.S. Starbucks Stores Offline, Forcing Staff to Give Away Free Coffee

Beverage cups featuring the logo of Starbucks Coffee are seen in the new flagship store on 42nd Street August 5, 2003 in New York City. A technical glitch saw stores in the U.S. and Canada taken offline. Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

A glitch in a software update caused cash registers at some U.S. and Canadian Starbucks Corp stores to go offline for several hours on Tuesday, forcing them to give away free coffee or only take cash.

Starbucks spokeswoman Madeleine Löwenborg-Frick said most stores were back online as of late Tuesday afternoon and the rest would be back soon.

She blamed the glitch on a problem installing a routine overnight software update, saying it was unrelated to the "WannaCry" ransomware attack that infected more than 300,000 computers worldwide.

"Overnight we worked to install a technology update to our store registers in the U.S. and Canada, and a limited number of locations were temporarily offline," Löwenborg-Frick told CBC News.

"The stores remained open during this time, and we can now confirm virtually all are once again fully operational with the remaining few stores scheduled to come back online shortly. We appreciate the patience and support from our customers.”

The company did not say how many stores were affected.