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August 2010

Organic Shade Grown Mexico

Organic Shade Grown Mexico holds a special place in my heart! As a store manager, I believe that every coffee we sell at Starbucks is the best that particular region has to offer, and I know that many of you truly appreciate the quality and the flavor.

This coffee – with its crisp first impression, uniquely subtle nuttiness, and bright, clean finish – is approachable and interesting to the average coffee drinker and the seasoned connoisseur alike. But there is more to this coffee than its extraordinary flavor.

Organic Shade Grown Mexico represents our commitment to environmental responsibility. Planted beneath the canopy of the lush cloud forest surrounding El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas, Mexico, this unique coffee comes to life as a part of an ecosystem.

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Apples to Apples

I grew up visiting Yakima, Wash., a lot so I’ve enjoyed many apples in my day – apple pies, apple strudel, baked apples, applesauce and much more. So, while travelling through Germany, when I encountered a delightful-looking apple turnover pastry called apfeltasche, I just had to try it!

The pastry dough had a flaky crust with a moist, tender center, and it was filled with yummy fresh-baked apples. The apples were the star of the show, but for added depth there was a light dusting of cinnamon that really complemented the flavor. The pastry was folded together with a medallion of dough to seal it – and it made you feel extra special, like you were opening an invitation to a chic party. Enjoying it on the café patio with my husband on a lazy morning, watching the world go by, made it even tastier.

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Ballad of a Mad Man

The return of Mad Men provides a welcome respite from sundown channel-surfing during a time of the year when there’s not much going on in TV land beyond bad news and worse reality.

Now in its forth season, the critically acclaimed drama centered on a brooding bunch of ‘60s advertising guys and dolls is becoming less of a showcase for vintage fashion and dated mores and more about the makeup and character (or lack thereof) of its shifting and shifty protagonists. Bourbon before noon and Lucky Strikes in the nursery only go so far.

Still, the little details beyond the offerings of the office bar and dizzying array of gravity-defying hairdos continue to give the series texture and pizzazz.

Think of the music, which in the past has included everything from Ann-Margaret kittenishly cooing “Bye Bye Birdie” to Bob Dylan soberly intoning “Song to Woody.” The hallmark of Mad Men’s selections, like the soundtrack to The Sopranos before it, is to avoid the obvious and dig a little deeper into the vaults.

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Coffee & Cheese High in the Alps

With the cowbells hanging in the eaves of the huts, I could tell the cows were up high in the mountains. The other, more obvious clue was the cows themselves blocking the trail. Either way, lucky for me this meant fresh alpine cheese!

On a recent hike from Mürren, Switzerland, I stopped at a little hut to enjoy the view and check out the tasty signature cheese. 6,384 feet up, I had great coffee (Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew Italian Roast) paired with alpine cheese in a truly unforgettable setting.

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Garcia Passed this Way

Some milestones have a mysterious impact. Of course, there are seismic episodes – Pearl Harbor or the assassination of John Kennedy or 9/11 – that make indelible impressions on entire generations. And then there are more personal watershed moments, like the passing of someone in public life who one way or another affected your life.

Fifteen years ago this month Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead was found dead at a treatment facility in Forest Knolls, Calif. I was never a Deadhead. Though I was involved in San Francisco’s music community for a decade and was even granted a brief interview with the man (unsurprisingly, he struck me as thoughtful and openhearted), the level of reverence followers of the band maintained was alien to me.

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Café Estima Blend® – What a Gift

Café Estima Blend® is close to my heart. Not only is it my favorite coffee, but it was also launched in 2005, the same year I was privileged to give birth to my son Jeremiah!

It’s a Fair Trade Certified™ blend of Latin American and African coffees. It has this soft citrus flavor, velvety smooth texture, and it goes great with my creamer because of its low acidity.

Every morning my husband gets up and makes me coffee – what a gift. I hear the water boiling, the grinder grinding, the timer timing, and I smell the aroma. The best part is when he hands the coffee cup to me. There is something in the moment when his hand leaves the cup that brings me to tears – it is the love he has for me that gives him the pleasure of making my coffee.

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Let’s Go! Go! Go!

Back in 1978, Bob Dylan sat for a Rolling Stone interview with a writer named Jonathan Cott. Cott was perhaps the most erudite rock writer of the time and his scholarly tone seemed to prompt the Bard of Hibbing to make big, bold pronouncements.

At one point the two men drifted away from weightier issues to discuss the state of rock ‘n’ roll, which Dylan insisted didn’t really exist anymore. He’d never played rock ‘n’ roll, the singer asserted. Nor did the Beatles or the Stones. What he referred to as “pure rock ‘n’ roll” faded away with late ‘50s/early ‘60s figures Little Anthony and the Imperials and Phil Spector. In other words, it was all over before many even knew it had begun.

Now you don’t have to buy Dylan’s argument entirely – or really much at all – to see what’s he’s broadly asserting. There’s a freshness to the various genres of music in their formative years, when artists are operating without a whole lot of rules or order. Think of jazz in the ‘20s or hip-hop in the late ‘70s.

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Galápagos and the Natural Order of Coffee

When I think of the Galápagos Islands, I think of natural science, Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. I am taken back to my school days where I learned about their many wonders: a unique ecosystem, rare bird species and exotic flora.

Today we are discovering another wonder from this place: its incredible coffee. We have never offered a coffee from here, and I think it speaks to our ability to discover exceptional finds.

The coffee comes from the island of San Cristóbal, which is one of the largest in the Galápagos chain. San Cristóbal has a peculiar ecosystem that plays a big role in the flavor of this exceptional coffee. The land enjoys plenty of fresh water from small rivers fed by a volcanic crater lake. And the cold Humboldt current that pushes inland creates mountain-like conditions that allow the coffee trees to flourish at low altitudes. The coffee is certified organic, shade grown and bird-friendly.

I have to say the coffee had a lot to live up to in my mind, based on all the stories and lessons I learned as a kid about this mysterious place. But I was not disappointed – the coffee tasted as exotic as the place I imagined. The flavors are familiar yet complex: a juicy mix of fresh green herbs like tarragon and thyme, balanced by notes of soft cocoa and spice.

Galápagos San Cristóbal arrives in selected stores as our first Starbucks Reserve™ coffee. Discover it for yourself soon as it won’t be around long.

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Introducing Starbucks Reserve™ Coffee

Everyone claims to have the world’s best coffee! But not often are the words “exotic, rare and exquisite” used to describe that coffee. For Starbucks to append all three words, the coffee must be really special.

We’ve introduced Starbucks Reserve™ coffee to a limited number of stores. This new line of coffees, each available only for a short time, represents the best of the best! You can expect to find flavors that explode on your palate and fade with a lingering complexity. When you taste a Starbucks Reserve™ coffee, you’ll be reminded of our heritage and the early days of the specialty coffee business that we helped to create.

Only 3% of the world’s coffee is good enough to make it into a bag of our coffee, and Starbucks Reserve™ represents a tiny fraction of that 3%. You all have told us that you want to see rare and exotic coffees in our stores, and that is exactly what we have done in bringing treasures like Galapagos San Cristobal to you.

Check online to see which stores will be carrying Starbucks Reserve™ coffees, and be sure to look out for them. You won’t be disappointed.

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