Coffee Tastings

Today is Pike Place Roast Day.

by Melody on April 8, 2014

{ 6 }

IMAG9943 Pike Place RoastToday is Pike Place Roast Day.

Six years ago today, Starbucks introduced Pike Place Roast into their coffee lineup. In honor of Pike Place Roast Day, I asked Coffee Master Jordan if he would use Pike Place Roast for an East Olive Way coffee tasting. He was happy to do so. We tried this coffee and Pike Place Special Reserve made via a French Press and compared it to Clover-brewed versions of the two coffees.

Pike Place Special Reserve is a different coffee than Pike Place Roast. The Pike Place Special Reserve is sold exclusively in two stores: First and Pike Starbucks and 1912 Pike Place. It’s Reserve for the two Starbucks at the Market. (First and Pike is right at the entrance of the Market). Here’s what the Pike Place Special Reserve packaging looks like (note, the brown bag is the exterior packaging. It’s a bag inside a bag.)

IMAG9921 Pike Place Special Reserve Coffee

Pike Place Special Reserve is roasted darker than Pike Place Roast. You can see it when you compare the beans side by side.

IMAG9955 Pike Place Special Reserve next to Pike Place Roast coffee 6 April 2014Jordan and Marlene presented tonight’s coffee tasting. They walked us through the four steps of a coffee tasting: Smell, Slurp, Locate (the flavors on your tongue), and Describe. At one point, I got a fun picture of the two of them smelling the coffee:

IMAG9950 Jordan and Marlene smell pic 7 April 2014We paired the Pike Place Special Reserve with the La Boulange chocolate croissant. This was a great pairing and the chocolate in the croissant brought out the dark chocolate flavors in the Pike Place Special Reserve coffee. The Pike Place Roast (the everyday brew) was paired with the La Boulange Classic Coffee Cake. The Classic Coffee Cake was delicious with the Pike Place Roast, as it brought out lots of cinnamon flavor notes.

I really liked the Clover version of each of the two coffees. I’m always amazed at the stark difference in sediment between Clover brewed and French pressed. Can you tell which is which here?

IMAG9946 clover brewed next to french press

I appreciate Jordan doing Pike Place Roast for the coffee event. I wanted to write more and put in more photos but I’m having some WordPress problems.

Here’s the short version of story behind Pike Place Roast:

April 8, 2008, Pike Place Roast was launched into the Starbucks coffee lineup. The coffee masters at the headquarters wanted to develop an “Everyday Brew” to be served all day, everyday in stores. Starbucks Coffee Masters know that flavor is a geography: A motto that used to hang on the whole bean menu signboard in the 1990s era of Starbucks. But for customers who didn’t understand how growing regions and processing methods can change the coffee flavor, the ever-rotating flavor profiles in stores confused them. It was an unsettling surprise to one week drink a bold, caramelly coffee, and then next week drink a coffee that was lighter in flavor with lemony or fruity flavor profile notes.

Some customer’s thought, “Starbucks is messing with my coffee.” And so six years ago today, with great historic fanfare in Bryant Park in NYC and on the red bricks in front of 1912 Pike Place, Pike Place Roast was introduced into the world. Then-Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels dubbed April 8, 2008, “Pike Place Roast Day” in Seattle. Howard Schultz proudly introduced the new coffee to the world.

PikePlaceRoastDay-HowardSchultz-08April2008-Greatphoto copyStarbucks made history with a coffee! I was there on launch day at Pike Place Market and snapped this photo of Howard just after he finished his speech about the all-new coffee.

Please share and enjoy.

Post to Twitter

{ 4 }

IMAG9815 sign for coffee tastingOn Monday, March 31st, I went to a coffee seminar at the Starbucks on Elliott in Seattle. Kristina, a coffee master in training, invited me to her event. She did an amazing job of putting on a dynamic seminar. About twenty people appeared. Kristina walked us through trying three coffees: Starbucks Reserve® Finca Nuevo Mexico, Starbucks Sun Dried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe™, and the core Starbucks Sumatra coffee, which is in stores year-round.

One thing Kristina did was awaken all our senses to the coffee. The first step of a coffee tasting is to smell the coffee. You put your hand close to the cup of coffee, holding it very close to your nose, and taking a deep whiff of the aroma. What Kristina did was have us smell the coffee, and then provided many smelling-facilitator cups. For example, for the Finca Nuevo Mexico, Kristina passed around tasting cups containing toasted pine nuts, orange zest, and brown sugar. This was brilliant step. It really helps one’s coffee education to be able to smell the coffee again a second time after having smelled the aroma notes separately. It’s like as if your brain is awakened to what you’re supposed to be smelling. You can see the small cup of aroma facilitators in this picture:

IMAG9807 Mexico 31March2014I’ve been to many coffee events, but rarely do the presenters prepare something to awaken the sense of smell in this way. The cup with mushrooms, clove, lavender, cardamom, rosemary and sage was for the core Sumatra coffee. It’s amazing how one really smells mushrooms – it makes that aroma pop – when provided with this kind of smell facilitator. The strawberry with baker’s chocolate and celery (for the lemon grass aroma) was for the Sun Dried Yirgacheffe coffee.

IMAG9813 Smelling container Elliott DT

One of the other things about this coffee event was that she totally prepared and organized. Each coffee had a guide sheet which told you exactly what you’re smelling and tasting with the coffee.

IMAG9803 Sumatra coffee tasting with smelling containerWe also discovered that Kristina is a brilliantly good cook. I told her that she could be a master chef! She prepared mushrooms stuffed with artichoke hearts for the Sumatra tasting as well a lavender butter cookies. The butteryness of the lavender butter cookies worked beautifully with the savory flavors of Sumatra. And for the first time, I started to pick up lavender in Sumatra, which I never had before.

IMAG9805 Mushroom with Sumatra coffeeThe three coffees each represent different growing regions. The Mexico coffee is from Latin America. Sun-Dried Yirgacheffe is sourced from Africa. And Sumatra coffee comes from the Indonesian growing region. My favorite coffee was still the Sun-Dried Yirgacheffe but that’s largely because I’m in love with that coffee.

Kristina drew a large crowd:

IMAG9800 Kristina coffee tasting at Elliott DT 31March2014I highly recommend that you browse the Coffee Tasting articles on this site. It’s interesting to me to look back at all the past coffee event and see what partners have done for pairings. I also strongly recommend that article: What is a Coffee Master?

Congratulations Kristina P. on a fantastic coffee tasting!

Here are just a few more photos:

IMAG9882 Elliott Drive Thru coffee semianrIMAG9790 coffee seminar March 31 2014 - Elliott DT StarbucksIMAG9782 coffee is brewing in french presses

Post to Twitter

{ 9 }

If you’re ever in Seattle, come join in a free coffee education seminar at Starbucks. There are two Starbucks locations in Seattle that regularly hold coffee events.


The first is the East Olive Way Starbucks, at 1600 East Olive Way, Seattle, WA, 98102, (206) 568 – 5185. East Olive Way holds their coffee seminars every other Monday night, at 6:00 p.m. You should definitely call ahead to make sure that there will be a seminar. They sometimes vary their schedule a little depending on when coffees are released and for a few other reasons.

IMAG9673 Kona whole bean coffeeOn Monday, March 24, 2014, I went to a coffee seminar for the newest Reserve coffee: 100% Kona. We tried this coffee both from the French press and from the Clover brewer. Congrats to Marlene and Jordan for doing a great job on this event! We thought that the Clover brought out a little more nuttiness to the coffee. I got a little more floral aroma when it was brewed by the Clover. We tried this coffee with dried fruits: dried mangoes, pears, and plums. The pairing with the dried mangoes was excellent. The brightness of the mangoes complemented the coffee! Try Kona with tropical fruits!

By the way, you can see that Marlene and Jordan had a blast! They wore leis and brought a few extra for the participants.

IMAG9665 Marlene and Jordan just getting startedThere were about seven people who came to the Kona coffee tasting.

From the French press, I thought that it had a heavier mouthfeel, and a little more berry and floral notes. Again, the mangoes were the best pairing with the Kona coffee. The other two dried fruits were fun but didn’t quite bring out the high note dimensions of Kona.

IMAG9677 Marlene smell - Kona coffee tasting 24 March 2014IMAG9681 Side of Kona Coffee BagIMAG9662 Dried fruit for coffee tasting


The second Starbucks store with regular coffee events is the new University Village Starbucks, located in Seattle’s University Village shopping center. Again, give them a call to confirm their coffee tasting schedule. The phone number is (206) 523 – 1718. You’ll generally find coffee seminars on Tuesday nights at 6:00 p.m. They do between two or three coffee events a month.

IMAG9689 Colombia 25 march 2014On March 25, 2014, we tried the new Colombia Narino Supremo coffee, which will be available in Starbucks stores beginning on April 1, 2014. We tried it from a French press, and had the fun experience of trying it as a solo espresso shot. It is delicious. I’d love to have it for a doppio con panna. Steph, the partner who held this coffee seminar, got a great conversation going about trying different Starbucks coffees as shots of espresso. As you may recall, Starbucks is testing the Colombia coffee as an espresso option in several different regions of the U.S. Steph mentioned that she’s tried Veranda as a shot of espresso and liked it. I’ve heard it said before that Veranda makes a fine espresso.

When trying the Colombia Narino Supremo from a French press, we paired with salted almonds and banana bread. I enjoyed the almond pairing a lot. I thought the salt actually made the coffee taste a little spicier.

IMAG9688 colombia coffee tasting

If you like reading about coffee tastings, I hope you’ll browse through the category of them here. There are many more to read about!



Post to Twitter

NEW: Starbucks Spring Blend Coffee.

by Melody on March 17, 2014

{ 16 }

Spring Blend2Be on the look out for an all-new Starbucks coffee: Starbucks Spring Blend Coffee. Look for it at grocery stores and at other similar retailers*. I found it at Barnes & Noble recently. This new coffee is described as having flavors of milk chocolate and sweet orange. It’s a blend of East African Beans and some Latin American beans, including coffee sourced from Peru, giving it that wonderful milk chocolate flavor.

The roast profile is a medium roast profile. Think of it as a little darker than House Blend (at least, that’s my wild guess.). I imagine that Spring Blend would be amazing iced. There is a lot of flavor notes from the East African component.

I took a bag of Spring Blend to Coffee Master Jess at Terry and Republican Starbucks, who hosted a quick mini coffee tasting for myself and a friend that I’d invited along. The coffee comes pre-ground, appropriate for a brew method with a paper filter, but Jess improvised and brewed it on the Clover. The Clover profile ground wasn’t too far off.

This is delicious. The three of us loved it. It definitely has some juiciness to it. I got some of the milk chocolate in the aroma, and all three of us caught the distinct juicy orange flavors. The friend I was with commented that he thought it got juicier as the temperature cooled off.

This is a seasonal offering so grab some soon before it’s gone. I strongly recommend that you give it a try! And, if someone has tried it iced, I’d especially like to know what they think.


As just an aside, I think this packaging is gorgeous. It would make an amazing design for a Starbucks card or a mug.

IMAG9471 Spring Blend - Side of bag near Clover 16 March 2014IMAG9474 Tasting cup of Spring Blend Coffee 16 March 2014IMAG9480 Spring Blend


* This is part of the CPG category of coffee. CPG stands for consumer packaged goods, which includes all of the items that one might find at places like Target, Walmart, grocery stores, and even Barnes & Noble or Bed, Bath, and Beyond. CPG includes items like bottled Frappuccinos, K-Cups, packaged coffee, Starbucks hot chocolate, canned Refreshers in the grocery store, Via Ready Brew products in the grocery stores, and more.


Post to Twitter

Jordan at East Olive Way Starbucks Leads a Tribute Blend Coffee Tasting.

February 28, 2014

Tribute Blend will officially arrive in Starbucks stores everywhere on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. It’s a coffee that features beans sourced from Colombia, Papua New Guinea, and combines Aged Sumatra and sun-dried Ethiopian coffees. It is one of only three Starbucks blends to use Aged Sumatran beans. (The three blends that include Aged Sumatra are […]

9

NEW: Starbucks Bright Sky Blend Coffee

February 8, 2014
Thumbnail image for NEW: Starbucks Bright Sky Blend Coffee

Starbucks has introduced a new Blonde Roast coffee into their lineup: It is called Bright Sky Blend.  I found it at a Target store, and of course had to pick up a bag of it to take home.  I wanted to do a fair “taste and compare” style tasting, so I took this coffee to […]

16

Two fantastic coffee seminars back to back at Starbucks!

February 2, 2014

I recently went to two coffee education seminars at Starbucks stores, that were nearly back to back.  One was on the 27th and the other was on the 28th.  They both were fun, so I thought I’d share a little bit about them. On Monday the 27th, the East Olive Way Starbucks did a coffee […]

6

What’s Your Coffee Jam?

January 18, 2014
Thumbnail image for What’s Your Coffee Jam?

On Monday night, I was at the East Olive Way Starbucks attending a coffee seminar for Casi Cielo coffee, and one person in the group talked about how she loved Casi Cielo brewed on the Bunn brewer (meaning filter brewed, as many people make coffee at home).  She described that she loved how the high […]

16

Sneak peek: Sun Dried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Starbucks Reserve Coffee

January 8, 2014
Thumbnail image for Sneak peek: Sun Dried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Starbucks Reserve Coffee

Arriving in Reserve – Clover stores on January 21, 2014, the Sun Dried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe will be loved.  This is a great coffee.  It’s the kind of coffee that reminds me why I really love coffee.  You smell the beans and you’re hit with a cherry bomb aroma.  Made by any means, it will be […]

35

Christmas Blend 2013.

December 11, 2013
Thumbnail image for Christmas Blend 2013.

Christmas Blend 2013 is here.  I know I’ve written about this before, but I recently went to a wonderful coffee seminar for this coffee, and had to talk about Christmas Blend one more time. Before I go any further, I want to mention that this year’s Christmas Blend packaging is a little confusing.  All of […]

21