Starbucks® Coffee knows perfect cup of coffee starts with only best beans. Finding and purchasing best green beans in world is first step that differentiates them from rest of coffee industry. They are well-known for exceptionally high quality coffees, care in selection, and expertise in roast. Each coffee is selected for defining qualities that distinguish its origin. This careful selection process illustrates Starbucks passion for buying and roasting world's best coffee.
Starbucks combs world for perfect combination of climate, soil, elevation, and agricultural practices that come together to produce a great coffee. When searching for coffees, they ask these questions. Which coffees from a given location best represent perfect intersection of climate and skilled horticulture? It is a search for unmistakable regional flavors, what a French wine-maker would call goût de terroir, taste of place. At Starbucks, coffee is a fresh produce, not a commodity. When inevitable happens and a given coffee estate or region has an "off" year, they simply don't offer that coffee. They make this tough decision rather than offering a lower quality selection. They buy coffee solely on its performance in cup.
The coffee Starbucks buys is truly special, spectacular coffee. Their coffee buying team evaluates over one thousand "offer samples" each year. The evaluation process includes roasting small batches of coffee and tasting these batches in a process called "cupping." Only a very few of these sampled coffees make cut. Starbucks coffee buyers spend approximately 18 weeks per year traveling to countries of origin. The purpose of these travels is not necessarily to buy coffee. The goal is to continue to learn about coffee and to strengthen relationships with growers and suppliers. These relationships are critical to their future success. They solidify company's role as champions of quality and progress at every level of coffee business. It is because of these relationships that Starbucks gets first pick of best crops worldwide. And thus Starbucks is able to procure world's best coffee beans every year.
Harvesting Starbucks Coffee
At harvest time, coffee trees are laden with bright red coffee cherries. Ripe coffee cherries are cranberry. An unroasted coffee bean is simply pit of coffee cherry.
The skin of coffee cherry is very thick, with a slightly bitter flavor. The fruit beneath skin, however, is intensely sweet. The texture of this layer of fruit is similar to a grape. Beneath fruit is parchment, covered with a thin, slippery, honey-like layer called "mucilage." The parchment of coffee cherry serves as a protective pocket for seed, much like small pockets that protect seeds of an apple. Removing parchment, two translucent bluish green coffee beans are revealed, coated with a very thin layer called "silverskin."While most coffee cherries contain two beans, 5 to 10 percent of time, only one bean is produced in cherry. This is called a "peaberry."
The Starbucks Roast®
Starbucks is passionate about way they roast their coffee. It's called Starbucks Roast®. It's more than a color: it is cumulative, positive, and dramatic result of roasting each coffee in a unique way, helping each one reach its maximum flavor. The color can be duplicated, but taste cannot.
All roasters, including Starbucks, roast green coffee beans by heating them in a large rotating drum. After about 5 to 7 minutes of intense heat, much of their moisture evaporates. The beans turn a yellow color and smell a little like popcorn. After about 8 minutes in roaster, "first pop" occurs. The beans double in size, crackling as they expand. They are now light brown. Very sour one-dimensional flavor notes are dominant, while more complex coffee flavors haven't yet developed. Many roasters stop roasting process after "first pop".
After 10-11 minutes in roaster, beans reach an even brown color, and oil starts to appear on surface of bean. At this roasting time (different for each coffee, but usually somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes), full flavor potential begins to develop in beans, bringing all of their attributes into balance. The "second pop" signals that coffee is almost ready. The moment that coffee is released into cooling tray is a memorable one. The smell of freshly roasted coffee fills air, along with sound of applause created by final clapping of "second pop." Starbucks roasts all of its coffees to "second pop".
To Blend or Not to Blend
Starbucks procures both single-origin coffees and regional blends from around world. Single-origin coffees showcase what is possible in individual coffees. Blends weave together coffees from different origins to create a taste tapestry for your tongue. Some coffees are purchased solely for blending while others are purchased as single-origin offerings.