It takes an exceptional bean to become a Starbucks® coffee. We sample over 150,000 cups a year looking for the very best Arabica coffees. In the end, only 3% of the world’s beans make it into a bag of our coffee. Starbucks coffee buyers spend about 18 weeks each year visiting coffee growers and suppliers. Many of our partnerships with farms and suppliers go back more than 20 years.
Our partnerships with farmers are critical to our future success. They solidify our role as champions of quality and progress at every level of the coffee business, because of this Starbucks gets the first pick of some of the world’s best coffee crops. This partnership is based on mutual respect. In our quest to purchase the best coffee in the world, Starbucks works with farmers to ensure long-term stability within the Arabica coffee market. In order for Starbucks to succeed, farmers must succeed as well.
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We started roasting coffee in 1971, and it was the way we approached our craft that created so many Starbucks fans in those early days. Our coffee stood out not only because it was darker, but also because it had more flavour.
The Starbucks Roast® is more than a colour – it’s a philosophy of helping each bean reach its maximum potential.
Most coffee is lightly roasted as a way to cut costs.. We roast our coffee a little longer, to bring out more of the flavour. We lose 18 to 25% of the weight in doing this, but the difference in taste is worth it.
The process starts with green coffee beans heated in a large rotating drum. After 5 to 7 minutes of intense heat, the beans turn a yellow color and smell a little like popcorn. Then the “first pop” occurs – the beans double in size, crackling as they expand. If you stopped the process here to sample the coffee, you’d taste sour, one-dimensional flavour notes. Those more complex, wonderful flavours haven’t yet developed.
After 10 minutes in the roaster, the beans reach an even brown color, and oil starts to sweat off their surface. Somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes, the beans start to develop their full flavour. The “second pop” signals they’re ready. As the beans are released into the cooling tray, the smell of freshly roasted coffee fills the air and our beans are ready to be enjoyed.
One of the things we enjoy most about the work we do is bringing you great coffees from around the world.
Some we present as single-origin coffees that showcase particular flavours unique to their birthplaces such as Columbia Nariño, others we give you as a choice of espresso in our stores as Starbucks Origin Espresso. The rest we use to create amazing blends, and that’s what you’ll find out about here.
At Starbucks, we might blend a coffee to showcase a particular growing region. House Blend, for example, combines three great Latin American coffees into one brew that exemplifies the best qualities of that region: lively, clean, well-balanced flavours. Ethiopia combines two growing regions to epitomize African coffees: balanced, smooth and rich.
Alternatively, we might blend beans from separate growing regions to create a fantastic combination of interesting aromas and tastes. Blends like Caffè Verona® and Starbucks® Christmas Blend, offer complex flavours that can’t be found in single-origin coffees by themselves.
As we slurp coffees in our tasting room, we look for the perfect combination of climate, soil, elevation, and agricultural practices that come together to produce a great coffee.
As we taste coffees, the question we ask ourselves is this: Which coffees from a given location best represent the perfect intersection of climate and skilled horticulture? We seek unmistakable regional flavors, what a French wine-maker would call goût de terroir, the “taste of the place.”
Coffees from each of the planet’s three main growing regions have distinctive characteristics:
Latin American coffees such as Guatemala-Antigua page tend to be clean, familiar and friendly, with flavors reminiscent of nuts or cocoa.
Coffees from Africa/Arabia such as Kenya are extraordinary and enticing, with floral aromas and flavors of berries and citrus.
Coffees from Asia/Pacific such as Sumatra tend to be bold and assertive, full-bodied with earthy and herbal flavors.
With Starbucks Origin Espresso we give you the opportunity to try a coffee from one of these regions in your handcrafted beverage as each offering exemplifies the unique flavour qualities of these regions.
A cup of coffee is the end of a long journey – from the land, to the farmer, to the roaster, to your eagerly waiting hands. Each step is important in defining what that coffee will taste like. Come with us as we take you through our most important processes and the care we take to make you the perfect latte, espresso or cappuccino.