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March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
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GaryH
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Posted Tue Apr 8, 2008, 1:07pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

baristadad Said:

I sat in on lasts months SB employee meeting so I have a couple of things from the source.  First, Pike Place Roast (PPR) isn't a new espresso roast but a blend of mainly Central American Coffees that is going to be their primary drip coffee (caf and decaf).

Posted April 7, 2008 link

I had the Pike Place Roast as drip coffee at a Starbucks store this morning and I really liked it (see pics in my other post). PPR isn't an espresso roast but Starbucks gave me some PPR beans for free and I was just curious what it would be like to pull some shots with it. Two weeks after roast so it pulled like stale beans. It had some sweetness and a bunch of carbon taste (yuck). So as predicted it doesn't work as an espresso but Pike Place Roast is very good as drip coffee.

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interference
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Posted Tue Apr 8, 2008, 2:21pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

Tried the Pike Place Roast today.  My Starbucks was handing out samples of drip and coffee beans.  The drip was pretty drinkable, but nothing special.

Sure enough, the beans are roasted quite dark with plenty of oil on the surface.  Pulled some shots at home.  My beans were roasted on March 22 and so did not perform like fresh-roasted.  Acceptable crema though.

Not good as a straight shot -- it tasted quite bitter due to the dark roast.

Performed okay in milk.  Starbucks advertises a flavor profile of "chocolate and toasted nut," and indeed these flavors are present.  I would call it dark chocolate and burnt nut.  Really unremarkable, and certainly over-roasted.

So is Pike Place Roast worth all of the fanfare?  I don't think so.  It is nice to know that I can get a drinkable cup of drip at Starbucks, though.  2 week old coffee, freshly ground, and brewed every 30 minutes is a respectable standard for ubiquitous chain coffee.

The most interesting development for me is the printing of the roast date.  This batch was roasted on 22 MAR 2008 with an Enjoy Before date of 22 NOV 2008.  I'm pretty sure Starbucks applies this same 8 month shelf life to all of their coffees.  I noticed the Breakfast Blend on the shelf had a similar Enjoy Before date, which means it is probably every bit as fresh as the Pike Place Roast.

- Ryan

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Posted Tue Apr 8, 2008, 6:16pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

I also pulled a couple shots w/ the PPR today (13days past roast); one straight shot and one cappa.  I actually didn't have quite the aversion to the straight shot as you two did; although it was clearly overroasted w/ that "carbon" flavor, I thought it smelled darker than it tasted.  It was pretty middle of the road, but leaning on the brighter side w/ a fair amount of acidity that really caught me on my tongue.  There was a little sweetness at the bottome of the cup too.  My taste buds are still learning espresso, but I still thought it tasted better as a straight shot than their espresso roast which seems even more "carbony"; it probably also helps that it was somewhat fesh.  The cap was also pretty undescript, but definately drinkable.  What was really missing was some of the deeper flavors that give you that chocolate milk thing.  I can get free beans from a family member so I might use it for the occasional flavored latte or mocha, but probably not a day to day roast for me.
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Posted Wed Apr 9, 2008, 12:54am
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

I just made some drip coffee with Starbucks Pike Place Roast. First time I tried it as drip so Rocky grind setting and amount of water to grounds ratio not optimized but overall PPR is pretty nice coffee. No carbon taste. I enjoyed it.

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Posted Wed Apr 9, 2008, 5:35pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

"It's late, I'm tired, but this really irks me. Oh man, is this going to be fodder for my next podcast. I may only reach 11,000 people compared to the millions who'll be reading Starbucks' literature, but I'll pick this apart.

Mark"


Mark, I would hope that you would at least TASTE the PPR before you go off on a "knee jerk" rant.  You're better than that.  Granted, it is not enough that Starbucks wants to be better than McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts coffee.  What is important is that a customer can now expect a consistently available excellent cup of brewed coffee.  PPR is the coffee of the day, every day.  This first step towards a renewed focus on the coffee, especially if it is raises the expectations of the consumer is a plus for the coffee industry in general, don't you think? :-)

(full disclosure -  I am a Starbucks employee)

 
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Posted Wed Apr 9, 2008, 8:00pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

stevieboy9 Said:

Mark, I would hope that you would at least TASTE the PPR before you go off on a "knee jerk" rant.  You're better than that.  Granted, it is not enough that Starbucks wants to be better than McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts coffee.  What is important is that a customer can now expect a consistently available excellent cup of brewed coffee.  PPR is the coffee of the day, every day.  This first step towards a renewed focus on the coffee, especially if it is raises the expectations of the consumer is a plus for the coffee industry in general, don't you think? :-)

(full disclosure -  I am a Starbucks employee)

Posted April 9, 2008 link

I'm not ranting against the taste of Pike Place Roast.

I am ranting against Starbucks' verbage that there's only one way to roast. The main focus will be that different beans require a different roast (and roast profile) to bring out their best.

Also, two lbs of PPR should be up here by tomorrow for me to sample.

Mark

 
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Posted Thu Apr 10, 2008, 7:48am
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

MarkPrince Said:

I'm not ranting against the taste of Pike Place Roast.

I am ranting against Starbucks' verbage that there's only one way to roast. The main focus will be that different beans require a different roast (and roast profile) to bring out their best.

Also, two lbs of PPR should be up here by tomorrow for me to sample.

Mark

Posted April 9, 2008 link

Mark,

I think Starbucks has always gone the route most big corps go, and that is not to confuse the consumer with too much info and variety; stick with one method of doing something and do it well.  The reason being that from the top down in the corp, having that one basic methodology, in Starbucks case dark roasting overall, likely causes less management and operational issues within the company.  Just think of the additional variables involved if Starbucks were to do various roasts on different beans, and various roasts on a particular bean.  It would likely suck alot of profit out of the corp with all the addtional work involved.

Just my bottom-line take.

Len
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Posted Fri Apr 11, 2008, 8:06pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

Ryan, I agree with you. This smacks of spin more than substance. I was stuck in Dallas this past week and saw the new t-shirt, cup art and point of sale signs claiming fresh roasted coffee. And sure enough the lb bags of PPR were duly dated...except that it was a "scooped on" date. No one (in their "Bold" or "fresh" t-shirts) could tell me when the beans were roasted "but Jen scooped them the day before yesterday." This strikes me as disingenuous, most people will assume this means the coffee is fresh. Maybe it is but then why not put a roast date?

Did not notice any difference in my mediocre Doppio espresso which is all I ever drink anyway. Having said all that, even mediocre espresso in Bedford, Texas is quite an achievement.
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Posted Sat Apr 12, 2008, 7:26am
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

It is my understanding that the "roasted on" date is on the 5 lb bullet bag.  They should have been able to tell you the roasted date or a reasonably close approximation date by looking at the next 5 lb bag to be used.  Each "scooped" 1LB or 1/2LB bag comes from a bullet bag that was opened that day.  Each 5 lb bullet MUST be used within 2 weeks of roasting date.  Each open bag of PPR must be used within 24 hours.  

Steve in Ft. Worth

 
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Posted Sat Apr 12, 2008, 7:59am
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

stevieboy9 Said:

It is my understanding that the "roasted on" date is on the 5 lb bullet bag.  They should have been able to tell you the roasted date or a reasonably close approximation date by looking at the next 5 lb bag to be used.  Each "scooped" 1LB or 1/2LB bag comes from a bullet bag that was opened that day.  Each 5 lb bullet MUST be used within 2 weeks of roasting date.  Each open bag of PPR must be used within 24 hours.  

Steve in Ft. Worth

Posted April 12, 2008 link

Steve,

You are correct.  I visited a local Starbucks yesterday, and saw the "mountain" of 5 pound bags of Pikes Place.  In addition to the roasted on date on bag, it also provides the location in the U.S. where the beans were roasted (Starbucks has a few locations where they roast).  In my instance, I am located in Connecticut, and the beans were stated as being roasted in Pennsylvania (the actual city is shown also, but I forget what that was).  The bags had dates anywhere from March 20th, to April 1st.  (And I visited the place yesterday April 11th).

Len
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"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674

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