Espresso Roast – At the Core of It All

It has been nearly five years since I joined the coffee department. And while I have many great memories, my favorite one has to be the everyday connection I make with my team around the espresso machine.

Now this is not just any espresso machine – this is the two-group La Marzocco® espresso machine that sits in our tasting room. The original 1971 Starbucks logo hangs on the wall, a reminder of our heritage as a coffee company.

In the beginning these connections were made in the morning, before the day’s work began. The first person to arrive at work was the designated barista. They would “dial in” the machine to ensure the espresso shots were perfect. Espresso Roast filled the hopper of the Astoria® grinder, the oils on the beans glistening as an indication of the magic that was about to unfold.

Grind, dose, tamp – the portafilter was locked and loaded. The sweet-roasty aroma filled the room. Then came the moment every barista longs for – the perfect shot. The first cup filled with this dense, syrupy-sweet elixir. Espresso Roast at its best. Folks continued to roll in, lining up with their mug of choice. Americanos were the “house beverage,” with cream being the only offered condiment. We would spend minutes – sometimes many, sometimes few – enjoying our coffee and time together.

Time has passed and my current team has created our own tradition, preferring to gather in the afternoon, but still at our beloved La Marzocco. We sip espressos and macchiatos, and we are still excited by the first perfect pull of the day. I have to confess, playing barista is my favorite part – I love handcrafting beverages for my team. It is a way of sharing a part of me and creating something special for friends who are as excited as I am about coffee and these moments we share.

Many things have changed over the years – people have come, people have gone – but the time around the La Marzocco, enjoying coffee and each other, continues to be the best part of my day.

comments (16)

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    • rstanberry
    • 9/24/2010 2:30 PM

    Wish I had a 7000 dollar coffee machine in our breakroom.

    • dukaluke
    • 9/25/2010 8:16 AM

    As a barista, this post help to rekindle my love of espresso. After reading this during my break, I was driven to shine up our stores pair of espresso machines to give it that glow that they deserve.

    • magkmakr
    • 9/25/2010 9:14 AM

    Thank you for the nostalgia. As a former manager partner, my fondest memories revolved around that same focal point, our La Marzocco machine. The only difference is that we had three groups in our store. As I enjoy this morning's personal grande americano, I realize that the barista preparing my drink has not had that had crafting experience. I hope your post can build the roots that seem to be lost to our current generation of push button baristas. Oh, I do miss the old days. Keep the art alive!

    • himpurpose1
    • 9/27/2010 7:58 AM

    thank you for allowing me to log online for free

    • blakeeb
    • 9/28/2010 9:49 AM

    it's great to hear that some Starbucks employees still value espresso quality... which begs the question, why so many superautomatics? Why aren't there La Marz machines, proper grinders, and espresso-worshiping baristas in every store?

      • mapexboy87
      • 10/31/2010 7:31 PM

      In reply to: blakeeb

      Sadly, because the company changed. They got focused on speed. So you have to have a faster machine thats easier to use for the partners/baristas. Quality went down with the La Marz machine, therefore they went to an automatic.

    • cindyerie
    • 10/1/2010 11:24 AM

    After reading this story as a partner of Starbucks Coffee for over 11 years I remember the La Morzocco machine. I remember the smell of the espresso roast grinding in our grinders and tapping and retapping to get that perfect espresso shot and the view of the shot forming in the shot glass was amazing. I must say the taste is so different and the excitement for the perfect shot has come a long ways since 1999. It would be nice 2 have a store where they still use the La Morzocco that will be great

    • eschaton
    • 10/2/2010 6:06 PM

    I miss the La Marzocco espresso machines and the 17-second shots from them. Starbucks has never tasted the same to me since the move to the automatic machines.

    • motan1
    • 10/5/2010 8:08 PM

    Ahhhh the La Marzocco.. what an amazing and impeccable machine. I had to stare at the picture for awhile to make sure the antique looking piece was the same machine I first worked with when becoming a barista at Starbucks back in 1999.. What happened to them? Why the drastic change to automatic machines? I understand it is more efficient.. but sorry to say, the original taste has been lost to automation and technology.

    • dananddana
    • 10/8/2010 9:02 AM

    Yes, the La Marzocco was amazing and delicious. BUT, don't forget what it was like to pull shot after shot after shot, hoping and praying that you'd get good shots for the 25 people in line. I've been a partner for 9 years and while at times I miss that machine, I definitely value the one we have now. Especially when I can get 55 customers through my store in a half hour WHILE delivering a legendary customer experience! :) Thank you STARBUCKS!! :)

    • outdoordog
    • 10/12/2010 5:08 PM

    I ordered a grande nonfat cap yesterday in Palm Desert Ca, the barrista picked up the cup and looked to see what was written so she would know what to make the customer, she was all excited, oh I love to make a cappuccino, we talked about how hard it is to get a good one and how each store is different, she delivered and I was on my way, got back in the car and took my first taste, oh oh oh what a feeling the taste of an awesome cappuccino, how sweet it is....thank you miss Palm Desert barrista.

    • SeattleMelody
    • 10/22/2010 6:30 AM

    Hi Jason! I love this blog post. Just Wednesday of this week (2 days ago) I started my day with a perfect doppio con panna from 1912 Pike Place, and I still love the romance of their machine. Nothing beats the La Marzocco.

    • ayrton911
    • 11/4/2010 10:54 PM

    Great Story! I must say, if you consider how big Starbucks is today though, the Super Automatics at least give us a chance at getting a consistent taste. You'd get some bad drinks if every single store and every skill level of barista had to use a traditional machine. Nevertheless, nothing wrong with enjoying that perfect shot if the opportunity arrives.

    • vandalestari
    • 11/14/2010 5:25 AM

    I'm a Starbucks partner from Indonesia. I still use La Marzocco and Astoria grinders in my store. I love the experience in using the machines. It is a bit of a challenge in the consistency and speed. But it gives me pleasure, knowing I delivered perfect cups to each of our customers. It is art, of making cappuccinos, lattes and other espresso beverages the way how every customers want it.

    • theresawire
    • 11/18/2010 12:46 PM

    I have to admit I love my espresso and to be honest I chose a local espresso company for my daily fix, until they unfortunatly went out of business. I now go to Starbucks for my fix and I do love it, but yes the reason I choose the local shop over Starbucks before was because they pulled their shots by hand. There is no comparison between the rich flavor from pulled shots and that of the automatics. For all the barista's that pull those shots by hand perfectly, it is a talent to be proud of.

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