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March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
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MarkPrince
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Posted Mon Apr 7, 2008, 12:00am
Subject: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch!
by Mark Prince

Mark takes a look at the latest rumours flying around about Starbucks "next big thing" (they seem to have a big thing every few weeks lately) as well as keeping you up to date on the fundraising for CoffeeKids, a massive excerpt from a new book coming out on espresso, and much more.
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Ancamo
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Posted Mon Apr 7, 2008, 9:21am
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

Just a thought about the "The big thing coming up" at Starbucks
They have a picture of a cup of coffee with a date on it, is it a hint to tell us they will date (roast date) their coffees..  ? ;-)

Great article again Mark!!

Pascal
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baristadad
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Posted Mon Apr 7, 2008, 1:01pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

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).  They will also be brewing a third option that will change each week.  The Pike Place coffee will be roast dated and brewed within two weeks of being roasted.  SB will offer PPR in 1lb and 1/2 lb bags each day.  These bags will be roast dated as well and if a bag isn't sold the day it's offered it will be used for the next day's drip and a fresh bag will be made.  Customers don't have to buy a 5lb bullet (i don't even think that option will be offered).  From what I was told, so far the PPR is the only coffee that will be roast dated and offered in this manner.  The rest will be as it is now.  For the record SB doesn't actually offer ground coffee but does offer to grind any of their whole bean coffees when purchased.  BTW - I actually had some of the PPR fresh ground, drip, one week after roasting and it was very good.

This is all related to the companies desire (Howard) to make coffee it's focus.  In addition to this fresh brew they are scaling back their merchandising and trying to get away from as much of the non-coffee sales focus.  Being on the "inside" I can tell you that Shultz really does want the company to re-focus and work toward providing and increasingly quality cup.  This was all kicked of in last months training session that many consider a stunt.  I honestly don't think it was, having been there.  I don't believe that SB is the place to get premium espresso but I do believe that Shultz genuinely wants to keep or make (as you will) SB a genuine quality coffee  company and is making effort to do so.  I applaud SB for this new standard in their drip coffee.  It's easy to see any corporation as the evil entity, but sometimes you have to cut a little slack and recognize those in the company who really want to make a difference.
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Posted Mon Apr 7, 2008, 6:42pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

Sorry to hear about your lost files. That hurts.

Meanwhile, it's Gillies, G-I-L-L-I-E-S! See photo of abandoned site, taken on the streets of New York:

andys: gillies_281c_LLL.jpg
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-AndyS
picture page:  http://flickr.com/photos/andy_s/sets/
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MarkPrince
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Posted Mon Apr 7, 2008, 8:46pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

Baristadad - you make some very good points; I have to admit my cynicism at how things are motivated in a large corporation like Starbucks, but as my friend Marshall Fuss also recently pointed out, we're forgetting about Schultz, and his personal passion and pride.

I also appreciate the corrections and/or updates re

- Pike Place Roast (and funny enough, I did know it was a coffee drip roast, but kind of blanked that out when I wrote the article - I'll correct it)
- the bag sizes; I heard later that PPR will be shipped in the 5lb bullets, but that it will be rebagged in store? That seems to jive with your information.
- the information about roast dating (hey, even if they are only doing it on the PPR to start, that's an awesome start. Peets roast-dates, but AFAIK, no other roaster as big as them or bigger does, so Starbucks moving to a two week window is awesome news)

I spoke to someone today who went into one of the Seattle Starbucks with a Clover and the Pike Place Roast. This person is an extremely harsh critic of coffee, and said that it was one of the  best cups of coffee they've had in Seattle in some time, and that includes their visits to Stumptown. That's saying something. If this can be in any way carried across the corporation and locations, even half as much in terms of the quality spoken of, then it's good days ahead for those who want Starbucks to come back to the uber-quality side of coffee, instead of being a milk company (sorry, but that's still how I think of them up to today).

Starbucks was my introduction to an amazing shot of espresso, and a vibrant cafe culture in North America. After experiencing and loving Italian and French cafe culture in Europe back in 1990, and especially the quality of espresso in Italy, the first time I had anything near that experience was when I visited the third ever Starbucks location in Vancouver, the one on W. Broadway in Kits, back in 1993. Amazing espresso, vibrant staff, diverse customers. If I could walk into a Starbucks in the not too distant future, and instead  of being inundated with trendoids, CDs and chocolates and cups, and logos and signage and esotherica, but instead my primary sensations are experiencing the smell of good coffee, then tasting good coffee, I'd be a happy guy reliving my youth.

Mark

 
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MarkPrince
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Posted Mon Apr 7, 2008, 9:09pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

One update to this article. Somehow, I missed two paragraphs from the excerpt from Inny's book; it rounds out the thought process, and bears reading if you want to get the full gist of the excerpt. I've put it back in the article; so if you've read the excerpt once, consider reading it again to get his concluding thoughts on the point he was making in the book's early pages.

Mark

 
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rmiller85
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Posted Mon Apr 7, 2008, 9:58pm
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

Clover is pretty decent stuff, It will be interesting to see what Starbucks does with it
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MarkPrince
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Posted Tue Apr 8, 2008, 1:57am
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

Starbucks has updated their website.

Okay, I generally like the "sharing of information" that's going on in the flash page, and the videos are generally good, but I have to say, I'm quite irked at the following verbage about how they roast their Pike Place Blend:

At eight minutes, the magic starts to happen and the 'first pop' occurs. This means the beans double in size, causing a crackling or popping type of noise. And they're also transforming into a light brown color. To some roasters, this means the beans are done. They'll bag them up and ship them off. But to us, we're just getting started.

After a few more minutes, oil appears on the surface of the beans and they continue to darken, giving us that nice, deep brown color we want to see. Then the moment we've been waiting for. Somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes, there's a "second pop" indicating that the beans are practically done. Finally the get put into a cooling tray and that smell of freshly roasted coffee fills the air, signifying that our beans have indeed been properly roasted.

What kind of BS is this. Where is the understanding that every single origin coffee requires its own roast profile? Where is the understanding and education about how, as an example, some Ethiopian beans require a near- cinnamon (barely into first crack) roast, but a Papua New Guinea varietal might shine most if it's brought fully into second crack?

And it's almost as if they're trying to BS consumers into thinking anyone who does a lighter roast than Starbucks is some kind of amateur, undercooking their product.

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.

I did enjoy the origins video, but the cynic in me picked up on something - their lead buyer never said "highest quality", but also "the right quality", as in their job is to find the "right quality" for Starbucks' bean purchases. Interesting choice of words. They're the same words that 7-11, Walmart, heck, even Sara Lee and Nescafe could use... "we travel the world looking for the right quality of coffee for our purchases".

Mark

 
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interference
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Posted Tue Apr 8, 2008, 9:04am
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

MarkPrince Said:

"To some roasters, this means the beans are done. They'll bag them up and ship them off. But to us, we're just getting started."

And it's almost as if they're trying to BS consumers into thinking anyone who does a lighter roast than Starbucks is some kind of amateur, undercooking their product.

Posted April 8, 2008 link

Mark, I just got done reading the same ludicrous marketing spin on the Starbucks site, and I was both annoyed and embarrassed for them.  At that point, I had to make my way to Coffeegeek to see if anyone else had caught this, and indeed I found your commentary.

Rumors were that Pike Place Roast would be a response to the widespread criticism of Starbucks' over-roasting.  I suppose whether Pike Place is a lighter roast is irrelevant -- it's the message that is way off-base.

This type of Starbucks marketing comes across as trying to co-opt specialty coffee.  It seems they're doing what they can to take ownership of ideas around roasting and freshness but spin them in such a way that the hard work of independent roasters and cafes is somehow invalidated.

This is misinformation / propaganda under the guise of consumer education.  I suppose Joe Coffee Drinker is supposed to learn that proper coffee is always roasted well into 2nd "pop."

Personally, I can't stop chuckling at the "But to us, we're just getting started."  It's like the punchline to a great inside joke.

- Ryan
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GaryH
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Posted Tue Apr 8, 2008, 9:47am
Subject: Re: March Coffeeings and Starbucks Watch! by Mark Prince
 

I was at a local Starbucks at 9am and had a freebee Pike Place Roast coffee (15 days after roast). It was very nice coffee (no carbon taste). Beans are roasted quite dark but don't have a carbon smell. I definately enjoyed this coffee.

One week update. I've had PPR at different Starbucks stores over the past week and results are inconsistent. It can be quite nice but also be quite boring with little flavor. Some coffee was served very hot. So that is disappointing.

GaryH: Starbucks_Pike_Place_Roast1.
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