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April 2010

Bollywood & Beyond

Out this week, our World Is India, compilation. It’s a labor of love that, I kid you not, began as a germ of an idea way back at the turn of the millennium. It’s finally come to fruition.

These new and vintage recordings (dating from 1962 to 2008) encompass classic filmi offerings, electronica from the “Asian Underground,” and gorgeous vocals from Indian icons like Asha Bhosle and her sister Lata Mangeshkar. There are many old-school Bollywood tracks on it, but it’s essentially a fusion – or masala if you will – of traditional music, Bollywood, hip-hop and modern India-flavored electronica.

We wanted to pay tribute to some of India’s seminal artists, but also to show how the sounds of that country have impacted and intertwined with the music of the rest of the world.

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My Favorite Bold Coffee #5 – Caffè Verona®

Caffè Verona®, as we now know it, was first developed as a restaurant coffee. It was served at a now-defunct Seattle restaurant, Jake O’Shaughnessy’s, where it was called Jake’s Blend.

The coffee was so popular (and tasty) that eventually, it became a standard coffee in our lineup and we named it Caffè Verona® – though sometimes it was also called 80/20 Blend because the original recipe was 80 percent Yukon Blend® and 20 percent Italian Roast.

When I was hired as a barista in 1990, this was one of the first coffees I came to love. Some years ago I wrote a poem about Caffè Verona® for an internal company publication. Below is an updated version of that poem that honors my long-standing appreciation of this bold coffee.

Love Letter to Caffé Verona®

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Hearts and Soul on a Platter

Just as many of you can recall where you were and what you were doing during the fall of the Berlin Wall or Obama’s presidential inauguration, I can recall exactly what I was doing the first time I heard Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings.

It was the summer of 2002, likely about 7:30 a.m. or so, and I was driving to work. I was probably groggy and disoriented and driving well under the speed limit (this being pre-coffee). I recall the sun was bright that morning, and just as I was coming over the top of the West Seattle Bridge, with the dazzling Emerald City of Seattle to my left, and breath-taking Mt. Rainier to my right, an unfamiliar song chock-full of funk, fervor and heart came on the radio and instantly jerked me out of my morning haze.

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Welcome Spring

The long dark drizzly days of winter are now behind us and spring is here. For me, that means back out into the yard to continue the seemingly never-ending list of things to do – weeding, planting and pruning. This year my big project is building two new vegetable garden boxes.

In my free time I may be an aspiring gardener but during the week, I am an ethical sourcing manager for Starbucks. Just like gardening in Seattle, coffee farming requires great care and planning – but it’s on a much larger scale and serves as a source of income for millions of families.

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My Favorite Bold Coffee #6 – Café Estima Blend®

I admit that I tend to judge a book by its cover. And by that I mean in the coffee world, I sometimes judge a coffee by its bag. (Come on, we all do it sometimes!) And when I noticed the bright and colorful design of the Café Estima Blend® a few years back, I had to buy it right off the shelf like I would do at my local bookstore.

That was in January 2007. The coffee was smooth and velvety back then, and it still leaves that same memorable dark-roast taste with a lasting sweet finish on my tongue today.

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Let’s Begin with a Simple Connection

I believe that change is the product of deliberate, incremental action. When we join together to shape a better world, sometimes our struggles will bear only modest fruits, other times they will trigger a social outpouring of courage and heart. We can never know beforehand what the consequences of our actions will be. We must believe that our individual actions are worthwhile.

Mountains brought me to the Pacific Northwest and the hope of shaping a better world brought me to Starbucks. I knew this place was different. I could feel the hopefulness and humility in everything.

My journey here began with classes describing the relationships we have with the people in coffee-producing countries who make our business possible. I was hooked. I became a sponge that couldn’t get enough of the stories from people who had their hands in the red earth floor, sticky with coffee cherry fruit.

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Willie + T Bone = Country Music

Do you ever give much thought to what goes into titling an album? Who does it? What are the boundaries? What’s the difference between a lame name and one that’s inspired? How much does a title matter?

Think about Bob Dylan’s 1966 masterpiece Blonde on Blonde, the apex of his surreal “thin, wild mercury sound” and as heady a blend of pop and avant-garde sensibilities as ever hit the Top 10. So why is it tagged with a title that would seem suited to a Hollywood beach movie?

One of most iconographic appellations in music history – “The White Album” – isn’t the album’s title at all, but rather the nickname Beatles fans came to favor over the minimalist (and barely visible) actual title, The Beatles.

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Let's Talk About Cups

Many of you have told us that you are concerned about the environment. We are too! Minimizing the impact on the environment from our packaging is a very important quest for us.

You may know that the hot beverage cups in our stores are made with 10% post consumer recycled material – the first such cups in the industry.

We’ve also made improvements to reduce the environmental impact of our plastic cold beverage cups. In 2008, we switched from PET plastic to polypropylene. Sound a little geeky? I’ll agree, but this move reduced the carbon footprint of our cold cups by 45%!

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A Cup of Low-Cal Goodness

You may already know that coffee and tea are naturally low in calories. In fact, a Grande brewed coffee (16 fl oz) has only about 5 calories and a Grande brewed tea has 0 calories, so both are good choices for those seeking a delicious, low-cal pick-me-up.

If you like a little added sweetness, here are some of my favorite customizations. (All nutritional info per Grande 16 fl oz size.)

  • Iced Coffee with 1 packet of sugar – 25 calories, 0g fat, 6g sugar, 0g protein.
  • Iced Coffee with Milk made “skinny” with one serving of sugar-free sweetener* and a splash (say 2 fl oz) of nonfat milk – 25 calories, 0g fat, 3g sugar, 2g protein.
  • Tazo® Shaken Iced Passion Tea made “skinny” with one serving of sugar-free sweetener* – 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g sugar, 0g protein.
  • Tazo® Awake™ Tea Latte made “skinny” with one serving of sugar-free sweetener* – 80 calories, 0g fat, 11g sugar (from milk), 8g protein.

*This could be a packet of Sweet’N Low®, Splenda®, Equal® or a few pumps of one of our sugar-free syrups.

Knowing all this, treating yourself to a delicious cup of coffee or tea has never felt so good!

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