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Archive for the ‘Coffee’ Category

Starbucks New Coffee

Starbucks launching “everyday” coffee in U.S.

By Lisa BaertleinTue Apr 8, 5:51 AM ET

In a bid to reinvigorate lackluster U.S. traffic, Starbucks Corp will introduce a new, everyday brew called Pike Place Roast on Tuesday and for 30 minutes will hand out free 8-ounce (240 ml) samples.

Free cups of the new coffee, which the company said has a smoother flavor and finish, will be available starting at 9 a.m. on the West Coast and noon on the East Coast at all its roughly 7,100 company-operated U.S. stores.

“It is the best coffee that we have created, maybe, in our history,” Chief Executive Howard Schultz said on a call with reporters on Monday.

Andrew Linnemann, Starbucks master coffee blender, said in a separate call that Pike Place and Pike Place decaffeinated would be offered daily, along with a third bold-style brew from a rotating list.

Starbucks had previously served a different coffee each week, which Linnemann said was confusing to some customers. With Pike Place, Starbucks will deliver drip coffee that is the same, regardless of the day or location.

The company is also focusing on freshness, using freshly ground beans and brewing coffee in smaller batches, with the coffee getting from roaster to sale in seven days.

Linnemann declined to reveal the source of the beans used in Pike Place, named for the company’s original outlet in Seattle and which will sell for $9.95 per pound (450 grams).

The new brew will roll out in domestic markets only and Linnemann said Starbucks was evaluating what brews would be best for international markets.

Traffic in U.S. Starbucks stores has slowed in recent months amid a broader economic downturn and stiffer competition from companies such as McDonald’s Corp, which is aggressively targeting the specialty-brewed coffee market that Starbucks helped establish.

Last year, the efforts of McDonald’s got a boost when Consumer Reports rated the hamburger joint’s drip coffee best.

Tasters from the consumer magazine said of McDonald’s brew: “Decent and moderately strong. Although it lacked the subtle top notes needed to make it rise and shine, it had no flaws.”

Starbucks got a harsher review, with tasters calling its coffee “strong, but burnt and bitter enough to make your eyes water instead of open.”

Schultz said Starbucks was going back to its roots with Pike Place after years of focusing on espresso.

“This is not about competition, this is about Starbucks. What others are doing is not the story,” Schultz said.

Starbucks shares fell 19 cents, or 1 percent, to close at $18.31 on the Nasdaq.

Yahoo News article

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It is becoming quite apparent that Starbucks is no longer the only game in town if you are looking for a good cup of coffee and they are beginning to feel the pressure. I am biased against Starubucks but not for any other reason than the fact that their coffee is bad(and overpriced).

If Starbucks is touting their new coffee blend as being smoother both in the taste and finish, as well possibly being their best blend yet, then they are way behind the curve.

Allow me to give a brief presentation on roasting coffee:

There are several factors that go into the final taste of cup of coffee. The main ingredients being the water, the brew method and the most important is the coffee itself. The coffee bean is harvested as a cherry, the “fruit” hull is then removed by any number of methods, each of which will affect the flavor of the coffee. The two major processes being a wet-process and a dry-process. Coffee grown in different regions will have different flavors, not just from country to country but even from farm to farm in the same region. Not just that, there are different varietals that will have a different flavor from one to the other.

As if that wasn’t enough, once the coffee cherry has been harvested and the hull has been removed and the bean has been allowed to ferment, the next major process is the roasting itself. Here is where the rubber meats the road. This where one can take the best coffee harvested that season and turn it into something undrinkable. There is no magic time and temperature for every kind of coffee. An island coffee like Jamaica Blue Mountain or Hawaiian Kona will NOT take the same amount of heat that a coffee from Yemen can take. If the coffee is roasted too fast it will not have developed any complexity, if it is roasted too long it tastes baked. There are stages of roast, or color that a roaster becomes familiar with, phrases like City, City+, Full City, Vienna, etc. are part of the trade. Some roasters even roast specifically for the type of brewing method one uses.

So… why all the hullabaloo with Starbucks? Starbucks coffee tends to be over-roasted, no matter what it is. Once the coffee has been over-roasted it looses it’s characteristic flavors and it all begins to taste the same. When that happens, you loose all the blueberry or dried fruit notes of the Harar, or the citrusy finish of a Yirgachaffe or the… you get the picture? Coffee is an amazing and complex drink that should not be mistreated.

Not just that, coffee is pretty much stale after two weeks of being roasted and is only good for less than two hours after having been ground.

So what is the serious connoisseur of coffee to do? Roast your own coffee!

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So, what is that makes a cup of coffee great and others not?

We need to start with good, whole bean coffee that has been properly roasted. Preferably the coffee would not be any older than two weeks. It should be a single origin bean not a blend and it should be ground just prior to the brewing process. Region of preference in descending order:

Africa/Arabia

Central America

Island (Hawaii, Jamaica, Cuba)

South America

Indonesia

Coffee originated in Ethiopia so I think that Africa and Arabia are a good place to start. The reason I suggest to you not to try a blend but rather a single origin is so that you can develop a palette for coffee and it’s flavor profile. In blending coffees from different regions it is easier to cover up mediocre coffee. Coffee from different regions will have different flavor characteristics, therefor I encourage you to try and distinguish the difference between a Yirgachaffe from Ethiopia to a Tarrazú from Costa Rica.

Now that you have some whole bean coffee you will need to grind it. There is no need to drop several hundred dollars on a burr grinder when a twenty dollar blade grinder will be more than adequate.

Now that you have the beans and have just ground them in a blade grinder, what to brew your coffee in? A regular drip coffee maker is not a bad choice but the majority of drip coffee makers on the market just do not heat the water enough. To properly extract all the flavor of the coffee the water needs to be between 200º F and 205º F, most drip coffee makers only get to about 185-190º F. If you are curious about just how hot your drip maker gets, get a kitchen thermometer and measure the temp. the next time you brew coffee.

What to do if you want a better cup of coffee than what the drip coffee maker offers? Can I interest you in a French Press? The French Press is nothing more than a glass cylinder with a base, handle, filter, plunger and top. The process is rather simple, you grind the coffee then dump it into the cylinder, add the hot water then place the lid which includes the filter and plunger on top. You let the coffee steep for three to four minutes then you press the plunger which pushes the filter through the brew which in turn pushes the coffee grounds to the bottom leaving you with a pot of the most rich and delicious coffee you have tasted.

Be sure to use good drinking water for all your coffee brewing!

If you do not want to try the French Press, then how about a Filtercone? Filtercones are nothing more than a manual drip coffee maker but this way you can be sure that the water will be hot enough and you can drip right into a thermos or carafe.

If you will be using either a French Press or Filtercone, you may want to consider using an electric water kettle. It can bring your water to a boil faster than a stove and it shuts off as soon as the water is boiling hot. Just several seconds off the boil and your water is good to go!

If you are using paper filters try using gold filters instead as they allow for more of the oils to pass through rather than being filtered out.

If you like cappuccinos but don’t want to drop four grand on a home unit then try a Moka Pot.  It is nothing more than a stove top cappuccino maker and nothing less than spectacular!

This is not the fastest nor the easiest way to get a cup of coffee, but there are no shortcuts to quality.

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The Decline of the Coffee Giant

Today, all Starbucks stores closed early to provide training for their “baristas.”  Nationwide, the specialty coffee sales leader began closing it’s door at 5:30 PM, leaving those looking for a bad cup of coffee or for a super sweet drink that has a coffee aftertaste high and dry or more importantly, maybe they left the door open for smaller shops to show the uninformed just how bad Starbucks coffee really is.

This news today reminded me of other recent news from Starbucks, namely that Starbucks will be closing stores that are not well performing, they will also be cutting back on the number of planned new stores and that they will be laying off 220 employees.  Has Starbucks hit the saturation point of how much coffee the country can consume?  Are they victims of their success?  Have they grown too much too fast?

I am biased against Starbucks coffee.  I think it is bad coffee, but more than that, it is far too expensive for how bad it is.  From the first time I tried their coffee all those years ago when they first arrived in southern California, I did not like them.  The main reason for not liking them was that their coffee was bad but there was also an emotional reason.  There was a small coffee shop in Pasadena that we used to frequent called “BrewHaHa” that was shut down after Starbucks came into town.

This lead me to think about what made one coffee shop successful and the other not, and it’s not the coffee, it’s the image.  One of the troubling things about our society is it’s consumerism.  So the success that Starbucks has seen is more due to their white cup with green logo than whats in the cup.  Much like the symbols of society and how they are marketed as a symbol of status the coffee cup is now part of the same marketing and consumerism.  When Honda, Toyota and Nissan introduced their new car lines, Acura, Lexus and Infiniti, it was because people would not consider driving a luxury vehicle with a Honda, Toyota or Nissan badge.  Luxury vehicles have a Cadillac or Mercedes Benz or BMW badge.  Coffee was given a label and sold to the unsuspecting coffee drinker who has been hoodwinked into thinking that he is getting a “luxury” item.

Coffee is a perishable commodity either in a green un-roasted form as well as roasted and ground forms.  Once roasted, the coffee begins to loose much of its flavor not long after roasting.  Most roasted coffee can be considered fresh for up to two weeks after roasting, after that it begins to go stale.  Starbucks coffee is roasted in one of several roasting locations and shipped to local stores.  I do not know what the transit time is between the time the coffee is roasted and when it is shipped to stores nor do I know how long it is before it is ground and served.  What I do know is that the coffee is over roasted, the water used to brew it is too hot and since the coffee tastes so bad most people only see fit to drink it as long as it has plenty of cream and sweeteners.

With the closing of all the Starbucks stores, I hope that the coffee addicts looked for a new place to get their fix.  Hopefully every neighborhood has a local coffee shop that roasts their coffee on the premises, if not then hopefully they found a shop that keeps fresh roasted coffee and they found a cup of coffee that has a clean finish and coffee that isn’t bitter but has plenty of flavor, a cup of coffee that is so good it doesn’t need all that cream and sugar to cover up how bad it isn’t.

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