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Nine Months of Christmas

Is it that time of year again already?  Time for our stockings to be hung with care and our cups to be filled with Christmas Blend?  Indeed, it is.

Christmas comes early to the Starbucks coffee tasting room.  Every year we begin the process of putting together the current year’s version of this customer favorite in March, when we taste samples of all of our aged Sumatra coffees, determining which lots are ready to be included in Christmas Blend.  There were some very special lots we identified this year, and they are showing nicely in the final cup.

When we talk about ‘aged’ coffees, we are talking about coffees that are aged for three to five years as green coffee, prior to being roasted, in a warehouse in the climatic conditions of the coffees’ origin.  Much like wine or scotch or, my favorite, bourbon, the character of the coffees change as they age.

After the aged tasting, we begin to look at the other components in June.  As Christmas Blend is one of our most popular coffees, we need to make sure we have all the right coffees in the right places so we can roast this magical blend in each of our five roasting plants.  While we were looking at the possible components for this year’s version, we were quite excited with how well the bight acidity of the Latin American coffees mixed with the big body and herbal flavors of the Indonesians.  Mix that with the syrupy body and spicy-woodsy flavors of the aged Sumatra and… viola!  We have the 25th anniversary version of Starbucks Christmas Blend.

Christmas Blend first appeared in our stores in 1984, and it became an instant classic.  Just as with vintages of fine wine, every year our Christmas Blend develops a character all its own.  Some years it’s the vibrant acidity that stands out, and some it’s the big, syrupy body.  The 2009 version highlights the special flavor of the aged Sumatra coffees that were selected for this year’s blend.  The cedar-like flavor notes and spicy character of these coffees really show through in the cup.  It is especially suited to pair with the rich foods of the season.

Christmas Blend is about more than what is in the cup.  Gather your family and friends around a fresh brewed pot of this special coffee of the season, and enjoy!

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