IMAG1304 - Whole Bean Wall - 4th and Union Starbucks - 29 July 2014Did you know that most every package of Starbucks whole bean coffee has a “clue” on it, which tells a story about the history of that coffee?

It’s been about one year since all of the new Starbucks packaging launched. Have you figured out all the clues on the coffee? The official Starbucks blog post on this is here. This came up as a conversation topic  recently when I was at a coffee education seminar for Breakfast Blend.

Take a look at the “clues” and hidden words you’ll find on the core whole packaging. You might look at the whole bean wall with new eyes:

IMAG1336 Breakfast BlendBreakfast Blend: I’ve written about Breakfast Blend thoroughly on this site. It was launched with other coffees, including Light Note Blend, Decaf Light Note Blend, and Serenade Blend as part of the “Milder Dimensions” category of coffee at Starbucks – an all new light roast coffee. Until Willow and Veranda Blend were introduced into the lineup, Breakfast Blend was the very lightest roast profile Starbucks coffee. It’s like as if the “Milder Dimensions” coffee lineup was Starbucks’ first attempt to lure in the coffee drinkers who would love the Blonde roast coffees.

IMAG1324 Pike Place Roast 29 July 2014 Everyday BrewPike Place Roast: Pike Place Roast was launched into the Starbucks whole bean coffee lineup on April 8, 2008. It was an all-new concept for Starbucks to begin offering an “Everyday Brew” so that customers would come back time and time again to the exact same flavor profile coffee.

Of course, this wasn’t without a small controversy that some customers wanted to be able to have old favorites like Breakfast Blend as the lighter roast profile option, or wanted more availability for the bolder coffees. At this point though, Pike Place Roast is here to stay. And in the Starbucks world of abbreviations, “EDB” stands for “Everyday Brew.”  (I assume that’s what the EDB stands for. This is my educated guess.)

IMAG1310 Espresso Roast - Emerson St. 29 July 2014 - 4th and Union StarbucksEspresso Roast: Espresso Roast is the heart of what they do. Customers all over the world love a great drink with Espresso Roast coffee pulled as an espresso shot. In my humble opinion, it’s totally underrated as a drip coffee, and stands up beautifully when made as a nice typical paper-filter brew method cup of coffee.

The hidden words on this coffee are “Emerson St.” I think this is the very most difficult one to figure out, of all the hidden clues. I think I’ve got it, but if anyone knows better, please tell me in the comments. My only clue to solving the Espresso Roast Emerson St. puzzle came from this official Starbucks blog post here. The blog article says this: “And who could tell the story about Espresso Roast better than the man who created the blend? Dave Olsen described how he and the original founders of Starbucks were at the roasting facility near Fishermen’s Terminal. They talked about what would be needed for a coffee that could carry its distinctive flavors through 6 to 12 ounces of steamed milk.” That episode would have been in the mid-1970s with the three original Starbucks founders, pre-dating Howard’s entry into the business in 1982. That article states that the original roasting plant was near Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal. It you look at a map of the Seattle area where Fishermen’s Terminal is, there is a West Emerson Street in that immediate area. I have to assume that the birth of the idea for Espresso Roast happened right there, in Seattle at Emerson Street.

IMAG1314 French Roast - 475 - 29jul2014 - 4th and Union StarbucksFrench Roast: The French Roast clue is pretty easy. It says 475. This is the temperature of the roaster to roast coffee beans to a very dark French roast. This is the darkest Starbucks roast, and pretty much for any coffee retailer, when a French roast is offered, it’s their darkest option. It’s interesting the extremes in the Starbucks roast profile from Blonde all the way to French.

This coffee is going to be extremely low acidity, and very smokey and dark. I don’t mind a cup of French roast now and then, but it’s probably not my go-to coffee.

IMAG1322 Yukon Blend 29 July 2014 4th and Union StarbucksYukon Blend: On the packaging of Yukon Blend, you’ll find the words “Big Hat Blend.” I Googled this and learned that once upon a time, Yukon Blend was sold in Texas as Big Hat Blend. To be honest, I don’t know any details of that – I’d love to know when that happened and why.

If anyone knows more about the Big Hat Blend story, do tell!

(Edit on July 31, 2014 – A reader sent in an image from one of her very old coffee master books. It shows the coffee stamp for Big Hat Blend! I feel privileged to be able to add that image to this article. Thank you Stephanie!)

photo-12 big hat blend

IMAG1326 Willow Blend - Starbucks 29July2014Willow Blend: Willow Blend has the word “Terroir” on it. This is another coffee where I’ve simply had to make an educated guess as to why that’s on the packaging. I don’t know the full story, and would be happy if you can share more details in the comments. I’ve heard coffee masters describe a coffee’s origin flavors as “Terroir.” In other words, the coffee shows off the flavors of the earth.

I would assume that Willow Blend has Terroir on it because it’s so light roast, you get a lot of origin flavors when drinking it.

There’s probably a lot more to the Willow Blend story, but that’s my guess.

This just gets you started. If you pick up each package of coffee, you’ll find there’s a story in the packaging, if you know how to decipher it. Here’s the old Caffe Verona coffee story. I only wish the new Verona packaging had some way of honoring that beautiful bridge that was on the older version of the coffee.

What do you think? Hope you enjoyed this lesson!