Red Cups, Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend and More Fun Happening at Starbucks

2 - 1 - IMAG3552 Red Cup and Small Starbucks Card2 - 1 - IMAG3527 new small gift card - Mini red cup cardNovember 1, 2014, marks the return of the Starbucks red cups! Be on the look out for red cups, and you can find an adorable mini Starbucks card that looks just like the iconic red cup.

(International Starbucks markets may have different launch dates for the red cups. I’ve heard that Starbucks Canada gets them on November 3rd).

With the return of the red cups, look for Starbucks holiday beverage favorites:

  • Caramel Brulée Latte (introduced into the Starbucks holiday beverage lineup on November 17, 2009)
  • Eggnog Latte (available only in Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest).
  • Gingerbread Latte (Not available in Western Canada or the Pacific Northwest)
  • The Holiday Peppermint Mocha (during the holiday season this beverage gets a special chocolate curls topping, not offered during other seasons)
  • The new Chestnut Praline Latte will be available on November 12th

While you’re enjoying your favorite red cup drink, snap a picture and enter in the Starbucks-sponsored contest #RedCupContest. (This is a good time to mention that Starbucks has a very, very generous photo policy inside their stores. I realize it wasn’t this way a decade ago, but at this point customers may freely take photos inside a store – Starbucks changes with the times, and I believe the current policy reflects the acceptance that most phones have camera and embraces social media such as Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and Twitter.)

Starting November 1st, look for selected items on the merchandise wall to be 30% off (my understanding is that at-home coffee items, such as whole beans, K Cups, and Verismo Pods will not be on sale):

2 - 1 - IMAG3534 30 percent off signs2 - 1 - IMAG3538 Thanksgiving BlendStarting November 1, you are also going to find Thanksgiving Blend in stores! This is a favorite first into the Starbucks whole bean coffee lineup November 4, 2008! In Starbucks stores, you’ll find Thanksgiving Blend in both the K-Cup and whole bean formats.

I’d like to mention the book, Tales of the Siren. I hope you’ll pick up a copy. Thanksgiving Blend is a meaningful coffee to me partly because I had an amazing experience in 2008, when this coffee was newly introduced into the Starbucks lineup. I partly credit Thanksgiving Blend for inspiring me to be passionate Starbucks customer and creating this blog! In 2008, I had the unique opportunity to attend a coffee roasting at the Starbucks headquarters for this coffee, complete with Tom Douglas talking about the creation of Thanksgiving Blend with Starbucks coffee masters.

Last but not least, be on the lookout for the “Starbucks For Life” contest beginning in early December lasting the whole month. The details aren’t clear but from what I have heard, you enter this contest by transactions in Starbucks. Each time you swipe your registered Starbucks card or pay with the mobile app, you gain an entry to possibly win “Starbucks for Life.” (One beverage a day for thirty years). I’m not sure I have all the “Starbucks for Life” details down. Stay tuned for more information.



Post to Twitter

New Starbucks for You: Sandy, Oregon & Orange, California

It’s been a long while since I’ve featured new Starbucks stores. I want to shine a spotlight on two Starbucks locations:

Tustin & Lincoln Starbucks (#23600)
2734 Tustin Avenue
Orange, California
(714) 685 – 0287

The Tustin and Lincoln Starbucks is new – just opened September 25, 2014. It’s planned as a Clover – Reserve location, though during my visit to the store, the Clover hadn’t quite arrived yet. (Although it since has received its Clover brewer, and you can get Reserve coffee there and Clover -brewed coffee). Everything about this visit was super fun. The store manager, Lisa O., was expecting me and we had a great time connecting. She is super passionate about Starbucks. She told me about how people from the community coming from all over from Orange and Anaheim Hills, and she was connecting with teachers, students, and professionals and a wide variety of people. Lisa embraces creating inspired moments!

I had saved my bag of Geisha La Ines for a special occasion and this was it! Celebrating a new store was definitely the right occasion. Lisa made it as a French press and it was fantastic. Also notice the beautiful art over the condiment area. Take a look at a few photos from Tustin and Lincoln Starbucks:

2 - 1 - IMAG2854 Tustin and Lincoln Starbucks 5 Oct 20142 - 1 - IMAG2846 Geisha coffee with whole bean 5 Oct 2014 Tustin and Lincoln Starbucks2 - 1- IMAG2833 wall art at the tustin and lincoln Starbucks 5 Oct 142 - 1 - IMAG2828 Tustin and Lincoln Starbucks inside order area wall of chill 5 October 20142 - 1 - IMAG2823 Tustin and Lincoln outside 5 Oct 20142 - 1 - IMAG2839 patio tustin and lincoln

Sandy Oregon Starbucks (Store 3373)
36765 East Highway 26
Sandy, Oregon
(503) 668 – 4390

The Sandy Starbucks has just recently moved into a new location. It was down the road in a very small space, originally opened new on February 4, 2002. This Starbucks moved into this beautiful, new larger space at 36765 East Highway 26 on October 23rd.

This is just a stunning store. It’s wood and stone with an indoor – outdoor fireplace, and spacious seating. I met a great shift supervisor named Lacy who welcomed me to the store! This was a spontaneous visit to this store! In addition to the beautiful wood trim and design, take a look at the cool “Roast Curve” artwork hanging near the condiment area!

2 - 1 - IMAG3432 Outside of Sandy OR Starbucks 26October20142 - 1 - IMAG3430 patio sandy OR Starbucks2 - 1 - IMAG3416 The Roast Curve Sandy OR2 - 1 - IMAG3425 Fireplace Sandy Or2 - 1 - IMAG3421 Sandy Oregon StarbucksIf you have a favorite store that you want to see featured on this blog, take a few pictures inside and out, and email me!

Thank you, and as always, I look forward to your comments below!



Post to Twitter

It’s the Franken-Frappuccino! (Get a Frappuccino for $3 after 2 PM Oct. 29 – 31)

Starbucks has come up with a very spooky Frappuccino recipe, just in time for Halloween!! It’s the Frankenstein – oops! I mean “Franken Frappuccino.” It’s so scary, you might notice your barista’s terrified face as it’s handed to you:

2 - 1 - Brooke with Franken FrappuccinoI tried one last night and thought it was delicious but quite a treat! It’s a dessert in a cup!

2 - 1 - Franken Frappuccino 27 October 2014I wasn’t able to finish mine! It tastes a bit like peppermint – chip ice cream. If your local barista doesn’t know the recipe for a Franken Frappuccino, tell them this (this is only the size for the Grande):

  • Start with a green tea Frappuccino
  • Add java chips
  • Add 3 pumps of white mocha sauce
  • Add 3 pumps of peppermint syrup (and substitute that for the classic syrup – there’s no classic syrup in the Franken Frappuccino.)
  • Top with whipped cream and mocha drizzle.

Here are a few tips for you to have the best experience ordering as possible:

When ordering a Frappuccino, be sure to really call it a “Frappuccino” and not a “Frap” or a “Frappay” or a “Frappe,” I realize this is an incredibly small thing, but once in a blue moon, you will meet a barista who gets up in arms about hearing the word “Frappe” or “Frap.” I know it’s rare that anyone even worries about something so trivial, but the reason is this: A “Frappuccino” is a Starbucks-trademarked word, and a “Frappe” is a McDonald’s- Trademarked word. Those people who really love Starbucks might cringe a little when they hear their competitor’s product name. (There must be better things to worry about.) Again, I know that none of this is worth getting high blood pressure over. But just so you’ll have the best ordering experience possible, say the word “Frappuccino” in full. It’s okay if comes out kind of pronounced, “Frapp-ah-chino.” The reality is that people generally don’t pay a lot of attention to what is a trademarked word in their normal everyday vocabulary. So while all of this seems like a small thing, the emotions around it are born out of a love of all things Starbuckian!

Next tip for ordering your Frappuccino: Please know what you are ordering and be able to say it out loud. What you should never do is just say, “I want a Strawberry Shortcake Frappuccino” and nothing more, and then expect the Starbucks barista to know what you want. Also, do not shove your phone at your local barista. I know just where the temptation to do this comes from – it makes sense. You’ve got a drink that is hard to order and it seems like it would be much easier for the barista just to read the directions. But what you should do is first try to say the drink, and if that doesn’t work, politely ask, “Do you want to see the recipe on my phone?” So for the Strawberry Shortcake Frappuccino (which I do find a pain to order and baristas almost always end up wanting to look at my phone) you might say this: “I’m ordering a very modified Grande strawberries and creme Frappuccino – It has strawberry juice to the first line of the cup, milk to the second line, 3 scoops of vanilla bean powder, 3 pumps of white mocha sauce, 2 pumps of toffee nut syrup, with creme base and both ice and whipped cream actually blended in, then topped with whipped cream.”

Third tip when ordering a heavily modified Frappuccino: do not be alarmed when it has a big price tag. You might want to consider using one of your MyStarbucksRewards on the drink. The modifiers will add up. For example, things like White Mocha Sauce, and Java Chips are always a cost to add in.

And the last tip for a great Frappuccino experience: leave a tip for your baristas. Frappuccinos happen to be pretty labor intensive and in any case, I’m sure your local baristas would appreciate a tip.

Come in to Starbucks October 29 – 31st after 2:00 PM and you can order any Grande size Frappuccino for just $3.00!! Now is your chance to try that Franken Frappuccino – just in time for Halloween!



Post to Twitter

Starbucks in London Gets Hot Mulled Fruit.

image1 - Hot Mulled Fruit in LondonA reader in London sent in this photo and information about a Starbucks UK test beverage: It is “Hot Mulled Fruit.” It sounds delicious! It is so interesting to see what’s being tested internationally. Here’s what the reader wrote about it:

The drink consists of a slice of orange and a sprig of ginger together with a pump of chai and a pump of grapefruit juice. This is then mixed with hot water. The chai is Tazo chai as we don’t have Teavana in the UK.  I had a tall drink; it costs about the same as a tall latte. It comes in the usual 3 sizes. It tasted really lovely, spicy, and warming. Non alcohol mulled wine in essence.  I would say this product is probably being tested for future years as the market for mulled wine is huge in the UK during the fall and holiday season.

I know I’d love to try it. What do you think?

(Click through here and scroll through to read about other Starbucks test products and beverages.)

Post to Twitter

Your Starbucks Mini Library: Must- Have Books.

IMAG3444 BooksI’ve had this conversation many times: “What are essential Starbucks books that every true fan or partner must read?

There have been several times that I’ve heard about store managers compiling a mini “store Starbucks books library” for their partners to share. I decided it was time to talk about the essential Starbucks library.

  • (2014) Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with Your Customers, Your Products, and Your People. (Joseph Michelli) This is the second book released by Joseph Michelli about Starbucks’ business strategies. This time the book focuses on connections. Again, this book was written with the approval of the Starbucks headquarters and has lots of interesting tidbits and storytelling moments in it.
  • (2014) Tales of the Siren: A StarbucksMelody (Melody Overton) I’ve had partners tell me that it’s a feel good book that’s an “an extra shot of inspiration.” Tales of the Siren relates my true stories – relationships with other customers, partners, friendships, and coffee education. This book demonstrates real life examples of how Starbucks is unique from other Fortune 500 companies. You’ll laugh with me, tear up a bit here and there, and likely you’ll blush once or twice for me too. But when all is said and done, rather than reading a dry business book, you’ll quickly get through a fun, uplifting book that demonstrates how Starbucks is the “People business serving coffee.” (Strongly Recommended)
  • (2011) Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul (Howard Schultz) – I don’t think this book requires any introduction by me. It kind of reads as if Howard is talking to you. This book goes through the problem-solving mechanisms and transformation that Starbucks went through to deal with the downturn in the economy in 2008. I recall a couple of years ago one partner telling me her review of this book. She said it read like, “We found a problem. We fixed a problem. We found a problem. We fixed a problem. We found a problem. We fixed a problem. We found…” While I absolutely still strongly recommend Onward, that short description of it has always stuck with me! I still think Onward is a very good discussion on how a big company can make major changes but not disrupt its core business. You can weigh in on it for yourself!
  • (2007 / 2009) It’s Not About the Coffee: Leadership Principles from a Life at Starbucks. (Howard Behar) This book reiterates all the principles and examples that made Starbucks great. Starbucks built its brand name on its unique way of doing business. Howard Behar was a top Starbucks executive (former President of Starbucks, in a position akin to what is currently Cliff Burrows’ position) and he lays out the ideals that he sees for Starbucks.  (Strongly recommended)
  • (2008) How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else. (Michael Gates Gill) I’ve known a couple of partners who said they read this. I realize I shouldn’t knock it without reading it first, but the premise seems to be that a barista position is such a huge “step down.” Though I will keep an open mind, and this is on my reading list. Lots of people tell me this is an excellent book.
  • (2006) The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary (Joseph Michelli) – This is another business book, which looks at the principles that Starbucks built their great reputation on. The only way to hold on to that great reputation is to continue these great principles. This book too has some good storytelling punctuate the business principles. The Starbucks Experience was written in cooperation with the Starbucks headquarters, so there are lots of quotes from real partners (many of whom are no longer at the SSC) who weigh in on how important the human aspect of Starbucks. I recommend this little book! (Strongly recommended)
  • (2006) Tribal Knowledge: Business Wisdom Brewed From the Grounds of Starbucks Corporate Culture. (John Moore) This is very underrated and overlooked book. John Moore spent eight years in the Starbucks marketing department. With this book, he walks through plenty of very real examples that intrigue and amaze, as he analyzes what Starbucks does right in their business. He looks at everything from customer loyalty to their approach to marketing. This book captures the best of what made Starbucks great: He looks at the philosophies like ‘Connecting, Discovering, and Responding’ and so much more. I would consider this an essential. Written from the perspective of someone who is incredibly knowledgeable about the brand, this book teaches customer service, branding, marketing, and more. (Strongly recommended).
  • (1997/ 1999) Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time. (Howard Schultz) Starbucks has changed so much since this book was written! I feel like this now reads a bit like a Starbucks history lesson. I still think it’s a great book. Gives the reader incredible insight on where Starbucks came from. And you have to know where you came from to know where you’re going!
  • (1999) Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World (Mark Pendergrast). This books is definitely not about Starbucks though I know many who consider it to be an essential look at how coffee became such a critical part of our daily lives.
  • (1989) The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community. (Ray Oldenburg). This is definitely not a book about Starbucks. It was written long before Starbucks was a huge corporation. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t read this book because it’s been on my reading list for a long, long time.  However, sociologist Ray Oldenburg is credited with creating the expression and concept, “The Third Place,” and this book is mentioned in Pour Your Heart Into It. I’ve heard it said (and this is only rumor I’ve heard! I could be off!) that Howard Schultz himself was influenced by reading this book and adopted many ideas of a “Third Place” from a reading of this book. If you’re looking for a sociological analysis of what a “Third Place” really is, I suspect this would be your book.

Post to Twitter

Starbucks Ends Free Drink Coupon: Now $4 Off Your Next Purchase.

Starbucks is phasing out the paper Customer Service Recovery Coupons. The Customer Service Recovery Coupon is card that baristas might give to customers who, for one reason or another, feel that their Starbucks experience missed the mark. There’s never been a hard and fast rule as to when a customer might be given a Customer Service Recovery Coupon. In fact, they work best when there’s some surprise element to them!

The old certificates were often thought of “free beverage certificates” because they entitled the customer to his or her next drink free. The new Customer Service Recovery Coupon entitles the customer to $4 off their next purchase and it looks like this:

IMG_1410 front - 1IMG_1412 back 2You might also notice that they’re no longer made of paper. These new certificates are now plastic cards, similar in size and shape to the Starbucks cards that can be loaded with money. However, these cards cannot be registered.

Earlier this year, I did a short article on old Customer Service Recovery Coupons.  The old version (meaning current version up to just now) of the Customer Service Recovery Coupon (the free beverage certificate) looked like this:

IMAG0620 Current Customer Service Recovery CouponYou too can probably think of lots of pros and cons to switching to a $4 off certificate. Off the top of my head, here are a few advantages: Since the new card is plastic, not paper, it’s not likely to be reproduced with a good printer (I think the occurrence of counterfeit free beverage cards was low, but I certainly understand that it probably happened enough to concern Starbucks). Because it’s 4 dollars off the next purchase, there’s more flexibility for the customer – he or she could use it as a discount on buying merchandise or food too. The card prevents customers from getting over-the-top beverages as a free beverage. I also think the occurrence of that was rare, especially in light of the fact that what a customer can order is somewhat limited by the size of the cup. One concern is that the new $4 off coupon will be much harder to get. There might be many more customers who walk out the door feeling like there’s no incentive to come back again, following a poor experience.

On the downside, $4 off a drink could feel “chincey” to some customers. There are plenty of customers who have a usual drink that is over $4, so in effect the new Customer Service Recovery Coupon doesn’t cover a free drink for those customers. The next one isn’t really “on us” in that case. If a customer had a particularly egregious experience in a Starbucks, a $4 recovery card is again going to seem really tiny, in comparison to the egregious experience.

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best thing Starbucks can do is to train partners about customer service: understanding that not every customer wants the exact same experience, but at the end of the day, most customers want both a great experience and a great beverage, and both are very important. The esteem of the brand is based upon what people say when they walk out the door of the store.

Starbucks is known for training baristas on the LATTE method of handling unhappy customers. This good customer service is probably far better than any $4 certificate. It doesn’t matter how much a certificate is worth, if it’s handed off with rolling eyes, customers will still leave unhappy. If a store has embraced the idea of creating enthusiastically satisfied customers and inspired moments, the times that a recovery coupon will be needed will be rare.

The LATTE method of handling unhappy customers is this:

  • Listen to your customers.
  • Acknowledge the problem and Apologize.
  • Take action to make it right.
  • Thank the customer.
  • Explain what you’ve done (And/or encourage them to come back again and escalate to someone above you.)

Overall, I think it’s a good switch to have the $4 off coupon. One more thing about it though, as the years go by, no doubt prices will go up at Starbucks. There may be a point when Starbucks has to re-evaluate whether it makes sense to increase that dollar amount to $5.

Please weigh in.

Post to Twitter

Cane Sugar Cola at Starbucks? Move over Fizzio Root Beer!

In select Atlanta and Houston Starbucks, you can order Cane Sugar Cola. It’s being tested as part of the Fizzio lineup of drinks, which includes Root Beer, Lemon Ale, and Ginger Ale.

A reader in Houston sent me a couple of photos of his Cane Sugar Cola:

2 - 1 - Cane Sugar Cola - Houston Texas - 14 October 20142-1 Cane Sugar Cola - Houston Texas - October 2014The Houston reader sent me his review of the new Cane Sugar Cola at Starbucks:

The Cane cola was sweet, but not overly so. Like the other Fizzio beverages, a more natural-tasting soda with plenty of effervescence.”

You might be wondering what’s in this new test-product Starbucks Cane Sugar Cola? A barista in a test store told me that the packaging describes it as a “Naturally flavored” and that the first ingredients are water, sugar, and brown sugar. There is a small amount of caffeine in the Cane Sugar Cola, which comes in the Green Coffee Extract. This is the same Starbucks Green Coffee Extract which is found in the Refreshers beverages.

As with every test beverage, I always have to warn that Starbucks tests many more products and beverages than what makes it to a national launch. And rumor has it that the Cane Sugar Cola has low sales. :(

So what do you think? Sounds delicious!

Post to Twitter

Let Us Know What You Think: Starbucks Overhauls the Customer Surveys

Screenshot_2014-10-20-09-29-38-1 My Starbucks Rewards StartStarbucks has switched to emailed surveys for you to rate your store visit. If selected to complete a survey, you’ll now get an email that says “We’d Like to Know What You Think.

There are no more in-store Starbucks paper receipts with survey invitations.

This summer, the in-store survey invitations changed to be a survey with no incentive to do it all. (Customers noticed the missing survey incentive, and asked for the incentive back on In 2012, Starbucks switched to in-store receipts that offered one dollar off your next purchase. Before that, your survey receipt was worth one free tall hand-crafted beverage. And long before that, your survey receipt allowed you to enter into giveaways for money prizes. All the old invitations-on-in-store-receipts are a thing of the past now.

The new e-mailed surveys are major overhaul from what the old invitations-on-receipts ones were like: You now get a one “star” for doing the survey. If you’re part of My Starbucks Rewards, the “star” will be credited to your account within three days of doing the survey.

There are far fewer questions. There are no demographic questions asking about income, age bracket, or even how many times a month you go to Starbucks. There are fewer questions about what your experience was. There’s no area on the survey for a free form, opened ended response. You answer the questions on a scale of one to seven.

The new surveys are very mobile phone responsive! You can easily do the survey within a couple of minutes from your phone. I’m so happy to be able to easily do the survey on my phone now! You couldn’t do that with the old version of the surveys.

Here’s what it looks like.

Screenshot_2014-10-20-09-29-54 Survey IntroScreenshot_2014-10-20-09-30-14 Do you recall visiting StarbucksScreenshot_2014-10-20-09-30-22 Likely to returnScreenshot_2014-10-20-09-30-51-1 Start of surveyScreenshot_2014-10-20-09-31-30 Survey questionsScreenshot_2014-10-20-09-31-36 Thank YouI can think of lots of pros and cons of this new survey system.

On the plus side, it’s likely that many more people will take the time to fill them out, since they’re now shorter and more convenient to do, since you can easily do it on your phone.  This is huge! And it’s nice that there’s now at least some incentive again for doing the survey. Lots of retailers offer some small incentive for doing a survey. Having a “star” as a reward, reinforces the My Starbucks Rewards loyalty program.

On the downside, there is no way to give any open-ended feedback on the store. There’s no blank box for you to write what you like: I’m a firm believer that open ended feedback is still a good thing. I also wonder how Starbucks collects demographic data without the survey questions. It is possible that some people will ignore the survey in their inbox (or it will go to their junk mail folder), as some people might assume that it’s spam. Since the surveys are now tied to My Starbucks Rewards, it seems like only My Starbucks Rewards members are doing surveys now. That seems like a skewed audience sample.

I think the new e-mailed surveys are a good move by Starbucks. More people will do the surveys since they’re shorter and easier to do! The difference in length in dramatic. Like before, only randomly selected individuals will receive surveys about their store visits.

As an aside, I’d like to see Starbucks make more of a commitment to having the “Share Your Thoughts” pamphlets in every store (filled out with the district manager’s name on the pamphlet). Feedback is extremely valuable, regardless of how it’s collected. I’ve met many people in retail who think everything is fine if no customer has confronted him or her about something. It’s a false sense of security to assume that silence means approvalSome research suggests that half of unhappy customers stay quiet and say nothing. Other research is much more dramatic, suggesting that about 80% of those with an unhappy experience will say nothing at all.  Hopefully, if Starbucks has many doors open to feedback (i.e.,surveys and “Share Your Thoughts” pamphlets) they’ll hear great feedback. But my only point here is the more feedback, the better.

Interestingly, I’ve heard partners tell me that now they can do surveys for their own store. The new e-mail survey system can randomly select a store employee now!

Have you gotten one of the new surveys? What do you think?

Post to Twitter

Coffee Education: Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia; Reserve Colombia El Penol; Geish La Ines; Anniversary Blend.

Yesterday, (10-18-14) I participated in a coffee tasting bonanza. It’s funny because it wasn’t totally planned as such but ended up being an amazing day of coffee tastings! I tried the following:

  1. Tasting Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia in a compare/contrast tasting with the Starbucks Reserve Geisha La Ines.
  2. Starbucks Reserve Colombia El Penol paired with food.
  3.  Anniversary Blend with rosemary smoked truffle salt popcorn.

2 - 1 - PhotoGrid_1413658726682 Hacienda2 - 1 - IMAG3229 pouring the Hacienda coffee2 - 1 - IMAG3218 Hacienda smell2 - 1 - IMAG3241 Geisha2 - 1 - IMAG3244 Geisha side by side with Hacienda coffeeHACIENDA ALSACIA and GEISHA LA INES:

Jocelyn (a friend and current partner) and I met up at the Bainbridge Island Starbucks. As we sat, several other partners dropped by where we were sitting to say hello and connect. There’s no better means of connecting than tasting coffee!

One partner brought us his personal bag of Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia coffee. This is a near-impossible coffee to come by. Starbucks owns a farm in Costa Rica called Hacienda Alsacia. This is a new venture for Starbucks. This Hacienda Alsacia coffee bag held the first crop ever sourced and produced from the Starbucks-owned farm. I couldn’t believe his generosity in leaving us his bag of it! He knew we’d love it, but still! This coffee was only distributed to Starbucks District Managers and above at the recent “Starbucks District Manager Leadership Conference” held in Seattle last week.

Later on in the day, a partner produced a bag of the Geisha La Ines coffee, which seemed to come out of nowhere. You may recall, I went to the roasting of the Geisha La Ines, in August this year. Being able to side by side compare these two coffees was fantastic. They’re both grown in Costa Rica but obviously are two different varietals and even their roast profiles were different.

I was getting over a head cold, so my own tasting felt a little off. I thought that the Hacienda Alsacia was pretty complex for being a non-blend coffee. I picked up a little spiciness in the Hacienda Alsacia. Jocelyn’s tasting notes were as follows:We did a side by side comparison with the Geisha La Ines. If you’ve tasted the Geisha, you would know that coffee is sweet, but in an exotic fruit type of way. This coffee could be a cousin.. Sweet, but with this beautiful floral aroma. Sparkling acidity with a hint of citrus.”


2 - 1 - IMAG3201 Brooke holding up the Colombia coffee2 - 1 - IMAG3204 Colombia with pocky2 - 1 - Untitled screen cap of colombia el penol 19 Oct 14The Colombia El Penol coffee is a new Reserve coffee, which will be available in Starbucks stores beginning October 21, 2014, and is already available on

Jocelyn mentioned that she gets a lot of cranberry and cranberry juice flavors out of this coffee. describes it as “black current and bittersweet chocolate mousse.”

She paired this coffee with the Berry Carnival flavor Pocky sticks, something that is easily found at Seattle’s iconic Uwajimaya grocery stores. (I realize that this is sort of a very local Seattle thing: Uwajimaya is kind of a Seattle institution and it seems like everyone who is a long-term Seattle resident has been shopping there and knows about it.)

This was a surprisingly great pairing. The Pocky treat is like a hard, unsalted pretzel stick, with a candy coating. The candy part of the treat has a rich flavor and helped make the “currant” flavor in the coffee come out more. I felt like the chocolatyness of the coffee went well with the pretzel-like part of the Pocky treat. I realize this is a really unusual pairing, but definitely well thought out!

I found the Pocky treats on, in case you really want to order a box.


2 - 1 - IMAG3198 Jocelyn popcorn I had so much fun yesterday that I forgot to take a lot of pictures! We paired Anniversary Blend with Jocelyn’s home-smoked rosemary, truffle salted popcorn.

I should have taken a photo of the bag of Anniversary Blend, but somehow neglected to in all the fun. Hopefully all of my readers here have tried and/or seen Anniversary Blend before. It’s a bold, spicy coffee that was originally introduced in 1996 to celebrate Starbucks’ 25th anniversary.

Popcorn and Anniversary Blend is a classic pairing option. This was an especially fabulous pairing as the smoked popcorn brought out the roastyness to Anniversary Blend. In general, Anniversary Blend will pair nicely with many savory food options. A buttery popcorn is perfect with Anniversary Blend.

I noticed that Anniversary Blend is now gone from, but you can still find a bag or two of it here and there at your local Starbucks stores.

2 IMAG3207 bainbridge island blendLast but not least, we also tried Bainbridge Island blend with the La Boulange Pecan Tart. That’s a perfect option of Bainbridge Island Blend! I just didn’t get enough pictures.

Hope you enjoyed these coffee tasting adventures! We spent hours at the store, just trying one coffee after another. I know I said it already, but it was an incredible day!

I’m always interested in hearing about your coffee tasting adventures. Please feel free to tell me about fun coffee events you’ve been to at Starbucks, or anything Starbucks coffee related.

If you like reading about coffee tastings, I recommend browsing past articles in this category. In particular, I thought this coffee event for the Panama Reserve coffees was fabulous.

Post to Twitter

News: Bonus Stars at Target Starbucks Oct 17-19/ You Can Now Redeem Rewards at Target Stores

image001 Target bonus starsMyStarbucksRewards at TargetBeginning October 16th, Target Starbucks locations now have the ability to redeem your “Lucky Dozen” or free “Birthday” rewards that you receive when you’re a part of MyStarbucksRewards.

October 17 – 19th, you will earn bonus stars for your purchases at Target store Starbucks! Each time you use your registered Starbucks card at Target Starbucks, October 17 – 19, you’re earning two stars!

One important thing to note, I was able to confirm with an official Starbucks spokesperson that “MSR offers (1:1) emails are not redeemable at Target Café stores.” Let me explain what that means: Starbucks uses “one to one” marketing. This means that you might receive promotional emails that are different than what your friends receive. Starbucks may email MyStarbucksRewards promotions such as “bonus stars for ordering Oprah Chai” or “Get one breakfast sandwhich and get a second half off”. Those are examples of the one to one MSR offers. Target Starbucks are not honoring these MyStarbucksRewards special promotions.

It’s still very big news that you can redeem rewards at Target Starbucks now!

About a year ago, I wrote an article that had a short summary of MyStarbucksRewards. It’s still a helpful article, though you should absolutely check out for all the details and latest information on MyStarbucksRewards:

Last but not least, always check back with for the latest reward information. The MyStarbucksRewards program is subject to change as Starbucks is always re-assessing what program offerings will work best.

Post to Twitter

Reporting on all the latest Starbucks news!