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May 2010

Josh Ritter – An Artist’s Artist

Josh Ritter is amazing. His songs are thought-provoking. Like cracking open a book he begins to tell you a story.

I’ve witnessed him mesmerize a room with his songs. Hundreds of people put under his spell, just he and his guitar and adoring fans. Conversely, with his full band, he’ll rock the place.

He’ll make you both laugh and cry, with very different songs. His lyrics seep into your soul. In a previous life when I owned a record store, I would have played Josh for everyone who walked through the door. Like Leonard Cohen he’s an artist’s artist.

Josh Ritter’s latest album is So Runs The World Away. Available at Starbucks on May 4.

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New Cookies in the Cookie Jar

Cupcakes, brownies and cakes are great – but I am a cookie girl. Ever since I was young, my favorite treat has always been a cookie from my Grandma’s cookie jar.

Today we are introducing treat-sized cookies just like Grandma used to bake.

If peanut butter is your weakness, try our Treat-Sized Peanut Butter Cookie. This delectable goody is made with real peanut butter and topped with super-yummy golden sugar crystals. I love the texture with bits of crunch and smooth peanut buttery goodness.

The new Treat-Sized Double Chocolate Cookie is our answer to your chocolate craving, and the perfect portion size makes it the right size to satisfy your sweet tooth without guilt. This cookie is full of chocolate upon chocolate goodness and then topped with chocolate chunks.

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Peggy Lee’s Still Got It!

Our Peggy Lee Opus Collection, Come Rain or Come Shine, debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 51.

But that’s hardly the first time for the late, great song stylist. Over the course of a recording career that stretched from the ‘40s well into the ‘90s., Lee graced Billboard’s album chart 16 times prior to this latest triumph.

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Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew – My Way

As part of my job I get to talk about coffee – a lot. One coffee I have talked about probably more than any other over the last year has been Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew. I have shared with people around the world what an amazing, versatile coffee it is.

I love to camp and my first camping trip drinking Starbucks VIA® is a great memory. I went camping with my son and best friend, Eric, at Wallace Falls State Park outside Seattle in March 2009. I remember a couple of things from the trip – the weather and the coffee. The weather was particularly wacky. We had sun, rain and snow over the course of the weekend. We also had great coffee. I typically bring a coffee press on camping trips, but this time I was very thankful, especially considering the poor weather, to have great coffee in an instant.

I also love to barbeque, and I was excited when I created a steak rub that included the coffee. My rub includes one packet of Starbucks VIA®, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, sea salt, onion powder and garlic powder. I rub the steak with a little olive oil and then lather on the rub. The coffee adds just the right touch of roasty, smoky flavor to the steak.

It is great to see what a success Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew has become already. Having a great coffee that has so many uses for me has been invaluable. It’s hard to imagine my life without it.

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The Inspiration Behind the Flavors

We spent years creating and tasting Starbucks® Natural Fusions. So when you’re drinking these naturally flavored coffees, remember a lot of love and care went into it to make each one a special treat!

The flavor inspiration behind Starbucks® Natural Fusions Vanilla was the vanilla pod itself: subtle, sweet, creamy, slight woody and floral. Think of what you smell when you use vanilla extract at home. This blend is a fusion of lightly roasted Latin American coffee (which lends slight floral notes), ground vanilla pods, Indian sarsaparilla (a root that provides a sweet, creamy taste) and natural flavor.

Starbucks® Natural Fusions Caramel was inspired by the caramel sauce we have in our stores: very rich, smooth, buttery and sweet, with a burnt sugar taste. This blend uses a dark-roasted Latin American coffee (which has a nice toastiness), complemented with licorice root (adding sweetness and creaminess), orange peel and natural flavor.

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"Is this the Delfonics?"

Isn’t it odd how the Delfonics don’t seem to ever come up in casual conversation? I mean, unless you’re Quentin Tarantino or putting together a compilation of Philly Soul music, they just never seem to crop up.

Anyway, time to get illy in Philly.

“Philly Soul” was one of the most admired styles of soul music in history. Sparked by the success of Motown and Stax Records, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell – Philadelphia men who had all cut their teeth in the 1960s as session musicians – began producing and writing songs that put them at the forefront of the evolving soul music of the’70s. They quickly moved away from simply imitating the acts from the major soul labels and established an original sound all their own.

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Three Is A Magic Number

Who remembers Schoolhouse Rock? You know – the amazingly groovy and educational Saturday morning TV show that first aired in 1973 and taught us so much about grammar, American history and math through the rhythm of song.

My favorite song from the series was called “Three is a Magic Number.” And our new 3 Region Blend coffee available May 4 confirms that three really is a magic number.

To create this blend, we layered together coffees from all three growing regions – Latin America, Africa/Arabia and Asia/Pacific – to produce a cup that is lush, deep, complex and refreshingly refined. For the first time in our history we have a recipe that highlights all the growing regions from which we buy coffee.

The time of year we are offering this unprecedented blend makes this coffee possible. It just happens to be the magical season when the three regions are all producing coffee at the peak of flavor and freshness. Each coffee has just arrived from origin to our green coffee warehouses ready to be roasted and delivered to our stores. All are fully washed, highest-quality arabica coffees with an amazing array of aromas and flavors.

I encourage everyone to try it. See if you can pick out the rhythms of the flavors you know and love from each growing region. I think you will find the coffee to be just as magical as the number three itself. Enjoy!

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Antigua – A Place of Elegance

Guatemala Antigua has been one of my favorite coffees in the 14 years I have worked for Starbucks. It’s an elegant and complex coffee with great depth. In our coffee glossary, “elegant” coffees are defined bt having a luxurious mouthfeel and intriguing flavors.

I was extremely excited when I got to visit Guatemala on my first trip to a coffee origin country. I spent lots of time preparing for my trip by reading books and reviewing maps – but no book or website could have prepared me for the experience I had.

A few of my favorite experiences were visiting wet mills and coffee tree nurseries. The wet mill is where coffee is processed after harvest. As you approach the mill the smell of sweet fruit fills the air. I loved seeing coffee sitting in the fermentation tank. This is where the coffee’s honey-like mucilage is removed, developing the acidity of the coffee. There are so many steps from beginning to end, and each one is important to support the flavor and quality of the coffee.

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What’s for Breakfast?

This morning for breakfast I’m enjoying our Huevos Rancheros Wrap, packed with protein and only 330 calories. It’s a Starbucks twist on the classic southwest style dish featuring a tasty combination of scrambled eggs, black beans, cheese, spicy peppers and roasted tomatoes on a wheat wrap. I am loving its great spicy flavor!

Looking for other hot ways to start your day right? Try our Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon breakfast sandwich with egg whites and reduced-fat white cheddar on a multigrain English muffin. It’s only 340 calories.

Or check out our Perfect Oatmeal, which is a delicious way to start your day. You can top it with your choice of dried fruit, nut medley or brown sugar. I enjoy mine with brown sugar, so for only 190 calories I get whole grains and 4g of fiber!

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Band of Horses – Evolution of Equus

In the course of my research on the act Band of Horses, I discovered that their evolutionary development (begun around 54 million years ago) mostly occurred in North America. They were pioneers in eating grass. It proved to be a smart “grazing” strategy, increasing their longevity much more than if they’d maintained their original style of “browsing” leaves.

For some reason however, they disappeared from the North and South American scenes until being re-introduced to Seattle, Washington, by Spanish globetrotters sometime in the new Millennium (c. 2004). Who knew? Somethin’ to do with frontman Ben Bridwell and co. roamin’ far and wide while hangin’ with that killer conquistador, Cortés (no, that wasn’t a Neil Young reference, but it is now). I won’t get into jineta-style saddles at the moment, but I’d ask that you do a certain amount of tacking up for Infinite Arms. It’s the masterful new record from Band of Horses.

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