“The Roast You Love The Most” coffee tastings coming to Starbucks near you (Jan., 12th – 14th)
Something blonde is here at Starbucks. Yesterday, I shared a few tweets from my twitter followers about trying the Blonde Roast coffees for the first time. Today, we are talking about coffee tasting experiences. Starbucks will be doing tastings in their stores nationwide (United States) on January 12, 13, and 14th, and it’s dubbed something like, “Find the Roast You Love the Most.” Today, I got a preview of this experience at a ‘media outreach’ event held at the Olive Way Starbucks. So if you are at Starbucks this Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, you should be able to find a coffee tasting event. You should absolutely call your store in advance and find out exactly when their event is to be held: My understanding is that each store has a few designated hours during the day for the coffee tastings.
Thank you partner-Anton Coleman for a great event! Anton is an expert at coffee tastings, and this blog saw him in action in an event for the Ethiopia Hararr Reserve coffee.
For today’s event the pairings were as follows:
- Veranda Blend – Vanilla Mini Scone
- Pike Place Roast – Bagel with cream cheese
- Italian Roast – The Chicken Sausage Breakfast Wrap
I was very impressed with the pairing selections. I don’t think I’d ever realized before how perfectly Pike Place Roast (it is not called “Pike’s.” There is no “S.”) pairs with bread. This is still not a favorite coffee of mine, but I genuinely did think that the bagel paired beautifully with the Pike Place Roast. The spicy flavors in the Chicken Sausage Breakfast Wrap worked beautifully with the Italian Roast. One person in our group thought the creaminess of the cream cheese paired well with Italian Roast. And I thought that the mini vanilla scone was a great choice to go with Veranda. I think it will be interesting to see what other things partners decide to pair with the Blonde Roasts. The iced lemon loaf might be great with Willow Blend.
So here we are at the tasting, just getting started. Anton is talking about the various coffee flavor profiles:
There were about six people in our small group, and we passed an open bag of Veranda around so everyone could smell the beans. Anton made the comment that he was smelling the aroma of peanut butter. The power of suggestion at work: after that I could only smell peanut butter from the bag of Veranda. I thought it was pretty fun that the team at Olive Way managed to get some unroasted coffee beans for us to look at:
As I already mentioned, the three coffees featured at this event were Veranda Blend, Pike Place Roast, and Italian Roast. One person in our group noticed that the three bags of coffee are different sizes, yet are all one pound. You can kind of see what I mean in this photo here:
Anton did a great job answering the question why the three bags of coffee are all different sizes. The intense heat of the coffee roasting process triggers a complex chemical reaction within the coffee bean. The starches in the bean begin to turn to sugars, and the heating of the bean facilitates the release of the caffeol (or coffee oil). This release of oils explains some of the shiny-ness that is commonly found with the darker roast profile beans such as Espresso Roast, or Verona. Because of these chemical reactions, at the end of the roasting process the darker roast beans retain a little less water than a light roast bean that hasn’t been subjected to much of this caramelization. In the end, the darker roast beans weigh a little less than lighter roast beans because of the loss of starches and waters. It simply takes more beans to make a pound of them because each bean weighs a little less than its very light roast counterpart. More beans equal a little larger bag!
So here we are a little further along in the coffee tasting event:
I always love a good coffee tasting, and this was superbly done. I hope that my readers get to try some of these pairings too. All of the participants at this event were journalists and bloggers with various websites. I sat near Keren Brown, who produces the Frantic Foodie website. I immediately recognized the name of her site because it’s a large and popular food blog here in Seattle. If you’re looking for a foodie website in Seattle, I recommend Keren’s blog.
The FTC requires disclosure of any consideration in connection with a blog article. Starbucks provided some food and coffee (and I got a free coffee mug too) and other consideration during this event. However, the opinions in this blog article are still my own. Heck, nothing is going to make me fall in love with Pike Place Roast! And I will still prefer the bold coffees (and some of the mediums too) over the lighter roasts. Having said that, this is a very exciting time for Starbucks. I do think that launching the blonde roasts makes good sense as a natural extension of the coffee roasting expertise that Starbucks has developed over four decades. I have heard that Starbucks coffee blending masters tested over 80 recipes and variations before selecting the winning recipes for Willow and Veranda. Starbucks states that about 40% of customers want a lighter coffee option, and so it makes great sense to draw those customers to these two blonde roast blends.
Thank you again Anton and the team at Olive Way for a fabulous event. If you like reading about coffee tastings, I suggest going back and looking at previous blog posts such as The Butter Coffee Tasting (Anniversary Blend); A coffee tasting of Sumatra Tapanuli and Rwanda Gakenke; The coffee tasting for a partner to earn her black apron – fabulous tasting including Christmas Blend at the 6th and Union Starbucks; and lastly, it’s always good to read about coffee cuppings which are a unique variation on traditional tastings and do not normally involve food.
john moore (from Brand Autopsy)
Kate said, “Adding a fourth coffee isn’t difficult at all, as long as deployment/labor support the coffee cadence.” Speaking as someone well versed in store operations from many years ago, that’s easier said than done. When Milder Dimensions was rolled out to Retail North America in the late 90s, it forced stores to support of a “cadence” of having three coffees brewed at the same time. It proved too difficult for many stores to follow such a “cadence” and the inconsistency forced Starbucks to change expectations to have three brewed coffee offerings at the same time. Times have changed. Processes have changed. But still, the variables of deployment & labor make it difficult to consistently brew FOUR coffees simultaneously in the morning daypart. I feel for the store partners right now. Having four brewed coffee offerings at the same time is MUCH easier said than done.
@John Moore fair enough. However, I am a partner and we’ve been doing the cadence with three coffees for years & doing it with four coffees for a week now. we have all been doing it & following it to standard quite well. I understand what you mean of ALL stores aren’t able to follow it to standard. But my opinion comes from having DONE it as well, I’m not just saying it.
Ok…here was day 3. I decided to make the Veranda sample at home this morning in my drip brewer. Now, I realize that any addition of cream, even just a tiny bit, really masks the coffee. I liked the Veranda samples at Starbucks because both times they were black when I drank them.
I have a friend that goes to Starbucks with me but does often comment they think the coffee is “over-roasted” and think even the Pike Place is too strong. I can see Veranda as a great match for her. I still like it, but I know I have to stick with it black.
Hayley, I think that some people are drinking Veranda because they don’t want to taste coffee. This morning I started my day with Christmas Blend, black. That’s fine by me. I’m going to try to catch one more round of the 3 days of ‘tasting’ – I was thinking of walking down to the Market soon and seeing what 1912 Pike Place is up to…
I have a bag of espresso roast ready for tomorrow! It’s been quite awhile since I have had that as a brewed coffee! Cheers!
@Hayley and anyone who is interested – I dropped by the Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place and have two photos of their coffee tasting in progress – I didn’t see too much action going on. In the background, the one partner standing in the middle of the lobby is actually guiding the line. The line at this Starbucks is so long, and without there EVER being a break that this store often has one partner dedicated to do nothing but stand and guide people to stand in line, direct them to open cashiers, and that is about it. And then make small talk with the person next in line, awaiting an open cash register – This store just doesn’t really have enough space, and given the constant crowd, to make the most of a coffee tasting, I think.
These “Find the Roast You Love the Most” tasting events were a HUGE success this weekend! I had the weekend off for my birthday, but it was fun to pop by stores and see all the partners sampling and the sheer numbers of people “converting” their daily drip to the Blonde. I think it’s a fantastic roast (although a wee bit light for me) and glad it is having a warm reception!
I follow this blog since 1 year ago and really I love it! it’s very nice! interesting and creative.
I´m Partner of Starbucks Mexico and as USA and every country in the world in where SBX have presence, we make’s one coffee tasting everyday. It’s very interesting know how every cup of coffee have their own flavor even when has been preparate in a only mode: French Press. We discover more flavors, sensations and we know more the coffee always.
If you have the oportunity to enjoy of a Coffee Tasting in other store with the support of one of our Partners, will be incredible! you’ll discover that SBX it isn’t just Frapuccino’s and Latte’s, it’s more than this.. one history, our passion. A great experience.
Thanks a lot for show your experience and our culture with other persons. Good job!
Have a nice day!
This looks wicked! I am going to be holding tastings of this style and this post really has helped me with a couple of bits, so thank you again for all that you do, and for all your fabulous blog posts!
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My store is doing it differently since we have an extra brewer and district manager direction to continue the cadence we will doing before but adding another coffee/urn. I want to fill in a shift at another store to see how this is actually done, sounds interesting.