This is my favorite time of year in the Starbucks Coffee tasting room. This is when we’re at our busiest, cupping anywhere from 60 to 100 different shipments of coffee every day. That means 360 to 600 cups!
Why so many cups of coffee? It’s the heart of the shipping season for coffees from Central America – and so far this year has been awesome.
The coffees from Costa Rica and Guatemala have been stellar. Their bright acidity and clean finish are especially on display this crop year. And I’m not just talking about the single-origin Guatemala Antigua or Costa Rica Bella Vista coffees you may know from our lineup.
A returning favorite joins our Clover® brewing system menu this May: Panama La Florentina. This coffee has been a Starbucks exclusive since we first offered it in 1994.
Panama La Florentina is a medium-bodied cup with crisp, clean, sweet orange blossom notes. It grows at 1400 meters in the region of Volcán, Chiriquí – near the Barú Volcano – in northwestern Panama. Much of the farm is shaded and consists of older root stock varietal coffee trees such as typica and bourbon.
I also highly recommend trying this coffee iced. Its crisp acidity combines with flavors of cola nut resulting in a rich, full flavor and lingering sweetness – you will swear someone added sugar to your coffee!
(P.S. With Earth Day having just come and gone, it’s also worth noting that this is a Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ coffee.)
Arabian Mocha Sanani is one of my very favorite coffees, and I’m super-excited that it’s Sanani season at Starbucks. This coffee is now available at the peak of its flavor, just like an apple during apple season.
This is the coffee that helped me discover the beverage I was drinking every morning could be more than warm, caffeinated liquid. Before working here, I knew nothing about coffee tastings – comparing one coffee to another to identify the acidity, body and flavor.
This was a completely new concept and a little intimidating. At first, it seemed that coffee just tasted like … coffee. But slowly I began to recognize a few differences.
Then I tasted Sanani and everything changed.
Here in Seattle, the coffee team recently got together to do a tasting. This is something we do every day – and yet this one was different. Instead of tasting new coffees, we got nutty … literally.
It was part of our monthly “Taste Personified” series, where we really dive into a particular flavor category to discover the unique nuances within it. In previous Taste Personified meetings, we had sampled citrus fruits and chocolates. For example, when we taste a particular lot of Kenyan coffee that exhibits citrus flavor, we want to describe what kind of citrus we’re experiencing. Is it a Ruby Red grapefruit? A Meyer lemon? A Jamaican ugli fruit? By exploring these subtleties, we become better tasters and can better describe what is unique about each of our coffees.
This month, we spent an hour tasting nuts: walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, pine nuts, macadamias and, my personal favorite, pecans. Tasting this array of nuts side by side highlights their differences – from the buttery-smooth flavor and texture of the macadamias to the herbally-pungent pine nuts.
Then we took it a step further and tasted the nuts with three coffees that are often described as nutty: Pike Place™ Roast, Brazil Ipanema Bourbon, and Henry’s Blend from Seattle’s Best Coffee. Tasting a coffee with a complementary flavor really highlights both experiences. Personally, I found the Brazil Ipanema Bourbon and the macadamias to have the most in common.
It was a great way to spend an hour in the tasting room. And now I’m already looking forward to next month when we gather around the table to explore the world of spices: cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and more.
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