For a limited time at your local Starbucks: 3 Region Blend coffee

Right now for a limited time, Starbucks is offering a promotional coffee blend called, “Three Region Blend“.  It is the first time that Starbucks has blended together, in perfect harmony, coffee highlighting the best of the three major coffee growing regions (Latin America, Africa, and Asia-Pacific).  My understanding is that all of the beans used in the blend are prepared by a “wash”  or “wet” processing method, which tends to lead to a cleaner finish to the coffee.  This is a little unusual for beans grown in Asia-Pacific because often times one will find a semi-wash processing method there. Three Region blend is a blend of coffees from Guatemala, New Guinea, and Tanzania.

One thing about this blend is that although it is classified as a bold, it really is squarely a medium to me.  It feels like a lighter roast than what Starbucks usually does as its signature roast.  The body is not overwhelming in the mouth, and it is flavorful but with a clean mouth-feel, in my humble opinion (remember I’m not a coffee master!).

Today Starbucks Coffee Masters Heidi and Jeremy helped me explore what kind of foods pair with this coffee and why each food brings out a different facet of this blend.  At this coffee tasting event, customers learned about the three steps of a coffee tasting, and paired 3 Region Blend with three foods.  The event lasted about 45 minutes, with customers coming and going. A small group of four customers stayed for the entire thing; all four appeared excited and eager to learn and explore the steps of a coffee tasting.  The group of four included locals and tourists. A young girl tourist-ing at the market from Germany said that she was excited to stumble upon the event. The four customers who stayed for the entire presentation each left with their own pound of 3 Region Blend*.  The German tourist told Coffee Master Jeremy, “I love coffee more than I ever have before.”

The first of the 3 food paired for this tasting was black plums.  From Heidi’s notes:

We tasted a black plum in order to bring out the subtle acidity that can be attributed to the New Guinea coffee.  Coffee from New Guinea is said to often have a “stone fruit” taste, and this is brought out particularly when the coffee is washed.  We spoke with the tasters here about the use of the term “acidity” when describing coffee, and how those flavor descriptors can range from lemon to grapefruit to plum.  The plums were some of the first of the season, and are the only ones currently available at the Pike Market fruit stands.  …We tasted the flesh of the plum first, then the skin, which allowed for varying degrees of intensity in flavor and in complement to the acidity in the coffee.

Black plums are a treat to pair with 3 Region Blend and I recommend others try this.  By the way, if this coffee were a darker roast, with a heavier body, it perhaps would overwhelm plums, but this pairs quite well with 3 Region Blend.

The next item paired with 3 Region Blend was chocolate, intended to bring out the Latin American component of the 3 Region Blend.  The chocolate was listed as 85% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs.  It was produced by BlanxArt chocolates.  This chocolate was rich and deep, and I had to wonder if it wasn’t a little overwhelming for this very smooth and clean coffee. I’m sure chocolate lovers would love this chocolate.

The last food item paired with 3 Region Blend was a pastry from Piroshky Piroshky from 1908 Pike Place in the Market.   The braid  of the Piroshky Piroshky pastry is made of a sweet biscuit dough, and contains cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pecans, golden raisins, and a cardamom-raisin glaze (the drizzle on top).  The spices bring out the typically African “brown spice” notes in the 3 Region Blend.  Heidi felt like this pairing created little spicy explosions in the mouth.

This event was a huge hit. Customers loved it. At the very end, in the moment that nearly made me weep on the spot, as I gave an older woman her pound of coffee, I saw her eyes beaming with pride, and she says, “I’m a stockholder too”.  Maybe you had to be there, but this coffee tasting was precisely the beautiful kind of thing that Starbucks can be, at their best.

If you’re interested in reading about my previous coffee tasting adventure with Heidi and Jeremy, take a look at this previous blog post here:

For the love of Mexico Chiapas (Starbucks coffee tasting)

*Some promotional consideration was provided by StarbucksMelody.

And it wouldn’t be a Starbucks Melody blog post without a few pictures:

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39 Comments

  1. AmazonV
    May 08, 2010 @ 17:03:40

    That sounds like a fabulous event! I did get to try the 3 region blend finally at my local store and agree it doesn’t seem to be a bold bold. I found it, when drunk alone, to really be a generic coffee – i think because there was no 1 strong note it all got lost on me. I’ll need to try it with some chocolate now!

    PS-i want that pastry sooo much, oh well

    Reply

  2. Enlightened Coffee Sage
    May 08, 2010 @ 20:27:32

    You always get to go the the best tastings. I’m a little jealous of the Seattle stores; I’m lucky if I can get a half-assed, rushed tasting with just the baristas.

    The Three Region blend also goes incredibly well with the new raspberry loaf, by the way.

    Also, you’re not alone in thinking it a medium. The South of the Clouds was also labeled as a bold, but everyone who tried it considered it a medium. Maybe they’re changing the standard of medium vs. bold at the roasting plants?

    Reply

  3. CD
    May 08, 2010 @ 21:16:51

    I thought it was more like a medium too. Do you think more fully washing the Asia-Pac beans had an impact? I’m going to ask my local store manager the next time I see her. She mentioned the other day that this is her new favorite (formerly was (RED)).

    Reply

  4. Brendan206
    May 09, 2010 @ 01:50:44

    That coffee tasting sounds like a neat experience. I was unaware of this new coffee until I saw it featured on the Starbucks web site the other day. Finally I visited a Starbucks store this week and had a cup of it. I like it! I agree, Melody, it seems more medium than bold (not that that’s a bad thing). I was pleasantly surprised by the bright acidity and the fruity, juicy flavors. The overall flavor profile seemed very balanced and well-rounded, with a clean finish. One thing I like about 3-Region Blend is that it truly feels like a “new” coffee, quite unlike the other coffees in the Starbucks lineup, and I hope it stays around. I don’t know that I’d go out and buy a pound of it, but I could really enjoy it by the cup if I happened to see it brewing in the store.

    Reply

  5. denise r.
    May 09, 2010 @ 08:16:18

    As I said on MSI, I have pics of this coffee and was just about to send them to you when the MSI thread came out.
    I got a quarter pound of it last week, or before. I’ve only had it made with a press and cannot decide how I feel about it. I know I think it’s definitely a ‘medium’ (boldness), and I know I don’t really dislike it. It just hasn’t jumped out at me in flavor. And I don’t get such a clean finish. I really have to try it brewed.
    The bag itself makes it beautiful and oustanding, I think. I agree, it does feel like a “new” coffee, for sure.
    As far as the food pairings….I understand that, of course….just like wine. But, I’ve always felt it isn’t really a fair way to ‘evaluate’ a coffee. For me, it needs to stand alone. I think there are quite a few coffees I might drink with a certain food, and the coffee is more enjoyable, but, to me, not really a fair (to the coffee) way to evaluate.
    I have to get a cup of this brewed….maybe this morning for the drive to my mom’s!
    Happy Mother’s day to all you Mom’s.

    Reply

  6. Melody
    May 09, 2010 @ 09:34:49

    Hi Enlightened Coffee Sage, Denise, CD, Brendan, and Amazon!!

    @Denise You really have a great comment that I need to reply to. When learning about coffee, I actually think it is totally fair and reasonable to explore both the coffee alone, especially as a cupping, or paired with food. Since so many people will enjoy their coffee with food, it’s totally valuable to talk about how food may change the flavor of the cup of coffee! Oh yes, I really like the bag too! It’s nice distinctive packaging yet it’s easy to see what it is. I’m not a fan of the new green-blue-red Organic Shade Grown Mex, (Red), and Estima packaging – It’s hard to read the coffee names on it, and they’re lacking in distinctiveness. I miss having a picture, even if it’s just a girl on a coffee farm with coffee cherries in a basket.

    @Enlightened Coffee Sage – Well Starbucks can play with labels like medium and bold all they want but they’re so subjective they can be a little meaningless even! Maybe they’re reclassifying coffees? Pike Place Roast is bold? hahahaha – Giving something a new label won’t change what it’s been for 2 years. But as to bold, have you tried the current Clover offering of Sulawesi Kalosi? Wow is that bold. I thought I was going to end up with hair on my chest. That might be bolder than what I like. A delightful flavorful medium to bold cup of coffee is heaven if done right: Case in point, every year I look forward to Casi Cielo.

    Brendan206 – I like what you said about it feeling like a truly “new” coffee! I totally agree! Coffee is an agricultural product. I doubt it will stick around. :(

    Thank you everyone for commenting. It means the world to me that you’re here at my site.

    Happy Mothers’ Day!

    Reply

  7. LatteRose
    May 09, 2010 @ 12:24:27

    Don’t know if I’ll try this one or not, I really like bold only. But I will have to try that Sulawesi Kalosi – you make it sound dangerous, Melody! Our whole family likes bold. For Mother’s Day, I sent her whole bean Yirgacheffe & Kona (from 15th St). When she opened the box, she said the aroma was – and I quote – “Perfume of the Gods!”

    Reply

  8. Emma Woodhouse
    May 09, 2010 @ 17:31:45

    This is honestly the best coffee we’ve had in forever! It’s been so amazing to be able to sample it out to customers and genuinely share how great it is. There are some afternoon folks who now automatically request that we brew it for them, and I’ve never been more happy to “just say yes!”

    Thanks for the food pairing suggestions- I’ll have to play around with them. :)

    Reply

  9. Hayley
    May 09, 2010 @ 19:25:31

    I have been away on a trip to my hometown this past week, so I haven’t been on your site too much. However, I was delighted when I noticed this coffee when I went into Starbucks there last week. I was surprised to see it since I hadn’t been on the internet too much. I tried a cup and made my father try a cup too! He is well aware of my Starbucks obsession but he rarely goes in. We both enjoyed it, and he thought he would be intimidated by it. It is definitely on the lighter end of their bold spectrum.

    Reply

  10. Nathan
    May 09, 2010 @ 20:04:46

    I’ve really enjoyed the many cups of this coffee I’ve had. I think it’s great.

    Reply

  11. CABarista
    May 09, 2010 @ 20:56:00

    This actually made my very limited “not my cup” list. Far too floral to me. Even when paired with the new raspberry lemon swirl (I think it’s called?) loaf (and yes that’s why it came out to go w/ the 3 region ) which I like a little too much. I didn’t find it overly bold either. But here is where coffee is all subjective and personal because I had a lot of customers try it and love it.

    Reply

  12. Clark Kent
    May 10, 2010 @ 09:18:05

    I LOVE this coffee! Tried it on a whim the end of last week and it was simply divine. The complex flavor combined with a smooth body made for an easy flight home from the Daily Planet.

    Reply

  13. BAYAREABUX
    May 10, 2010 @ 11:12:03

    It really is classified Medium. There’s no indication on the bag but that’s how it’s listed in the promo book.

    Reply

  14. Melody
    May 10, 2010 @ 13:02:55

    @BayAreaBux – Thanks for letting me know! I am not sure why I thought it was classified as a bold, but I thought I’d heard that. My mistake. On a different topic, your comments somehow often get caught in my spam filter which kind of bums me out. I have worried that I’ve accidentally deleted your comments at times. Is there anyway you could set up an email associated with your name? You could be BayAreaBux@gmail or whatever .com

    @CABarista – Have you tried the Sulawesi Kalosi? You really should. It’s one of the more bolder coffees I’ve had in a while. Do you want me to send you some?

    Reply

  15. CABArista
    May 10, 2010 @ 13:31:29

    odd. Our “what’s brewing” coffee sign says it’s a bold…and it’s listed on starbucks.com as a bold

    Reply

  16. CABarista
    May 10, 2010 @ 13:39:52

    no I haven’t tried it, I’d love to though!

    Reply

  17. Kelly
    May 10, 2010 @ 14:29:25

    I’m excited to try this coffee!

    Here’s a stupid question… If I want to try this in a store (instead of buying a bag and brewing it at home) does it have to be the current bold pick in the drip machines? Or can baristas just make me a cup of it some other way? (I’ve heard — here– that some of the concept stores offer french press or pour over)

    Also, can we request which coffee we want in espresso drinks? Or is that an already pre-determined espresso roast? I would imagine that they don’t just have all the beans available for the choosing, but I really don’t know. Also, if I just walk into a Sbux and order an Americano or something, which coffee is it?

    Reply

  18. Hayley
    May 10, 2010 @ 16:23:45

    @ Kelly – I am not a barista so I can’t completely answer your questions. If the 3 region is not brewing any store can make a pour over or french press, they should all have the equipment. If you go to Starbucks soon it should be the featured coffee, unless they have run out of it.
    The default is the Espresso roast in americanos as well as the other crafted beverages (lattes, macchiatos etc…) I would think there would be some baristas willing to use coffee in the drinks if you ask, but that is where my knowledge stops since I am not a barista.

    Reply

  19. Kelly
    May 10, 2010 @ 18:05:48

    Thanks Hayley! I’ll go ask for it as french press if it’s not featured! I never knew I could do that!

    Reply

  20. camspi
    May 10, 2010 @ 22:49:54

    I do not like this coffee through the drip brewer, but as a french press, it’s pretty good! I can understand the “spicy explosions” reference, although its more lemony to me than anything. So cool to see tasting go on. I need to plan one soon for my store.

    Reply

  21. LatteRose
    May 11, 2010 @ 15:44:35

    Tried the 3 Region today – not bad! Not as light as I was expecting, & good flavor.

    Next up – Sulawesi!

    Reply

  22. Nathan
    May 11, 2010 @ 20:31:32

    @Kelly, You can ask for a french press or pour-over of any coffee in the store (french press is better, IMO) even if it isn’t featured as the pick of the day. You can’t change the coffee which goes into espresso beverages as doing that would mean removing all the beans from the hopper, putting different ones in, removing those, and putting espresso roast back in, which of course wouldn’t be a practical thing to do for every drink. All espresso beverages are made with espresso roast, as that is the blend that Starbucks has determined makes the best tasting espresso.

    Reply

  23. Nathan
    May 11, 2010 @ 20:32:45

    Also, if you ask for a french press, it will cost you more.

    Reply

  24. Melody
    May 12, 2010 @ 06:57:58

    Where is Karldotcom – I know he recently tweeted that he bought a pound of this! And did we ever decide if this is a medium or a bold? @CABarista – You’re right that Starbucks.com lists this as a bold.
    http://www.starbucks.com/coffee/whole-bean-coffee/multi-region-blends/3-region-blend

    Reply

  25. AmazonV
    May 12, 2010 @ 07:07:31

    1 – does anyone know how and who (I should know, tsk tsk on me) assigns the boldness to a new Starbucks brew? there are a few bold coffees I feel are medium, which is why i feel compelled to try them all and find ones I like

    2- Melody have you considered making a weekend open post where people post their Frap recipes? there are many delicious recipes hiding among the threads there – and in a few other blogs, oh yes and that silly contest (Gossip Girl?) but it would be nice to have a quick list of real winners (and perhaps even things to avoid!)

    Reply

  26. Michelle
    May 12, 2010 @ 07:33:14

    I love the 3-Region Blend. Like CD said, it reminds me very much of (RED) and also of Kenya which is my favourite. (I am the only person I know that likes Kenya) I brought a pound home last week and ended up giving it away to a friend who tried a cup in the store, so I’ll have to get some more. I’m glad that BayAreaBux mentioned that the promo book calls this a medium. Ever since I first read this thread I’ve been thinking ‘but I’m sure it’s NOT a bold’. I knew I’d read that it was a medium somewhere.

    Melody – Who considers Pike Place a bold? In our new coffee passports I’m pretty sure it’s listed as a mild. (Previously was classified as a medium I think?)

    AmazonV – We have a custom Frappuccino menu at my store at the moment. I had all of my partners play around and come up with their favourite, and then we posted them for customers to try as well.

    Reply

  27. Melody
    May 12, 2010 @ 11:19:51

    @AmazonV and @Michelle and @BayAreaBux

    @AmazonV- I think that the labels like “bold” “medium” and “mild” come straight from the corporate coffee masters. On twitter you can follow @JS_Starbucks and @juneashley – They probably know the answers if they themselves aren’t the one who actually do that. LOL. We should ask them that question!

    Also, I like your idea of a Frappuccino contest, and I might try to put something together. Every contest that I do makes me a little nervous! It requires engaged readers. So far, this site has been busy enough to make it work, but I always worry, “What if no one wants to participate in the contest?” I could do a prize package from 1912 Pike Place because most people don’t have access to Pike Place mugs, and Pike Place Bearista Bears (I think they still have them – I was just there and didn’t look! Bad Melody!).

    @Michelle – Glad you love the 3 Region Blend too. It’s noticeably more floral than (Red). I haven’t tried it iced yet. I wonder what that would taste like? I too appreciate BayAreaBux’s comments.

    @BayAreaBux – Come back! I just enjoy seeing you here. :) But you gotta find some sort of junk but constant email address so that your comments don’t get trapped in my spam filter.

    Thanks all! :)

    Reply

  28. mindi
    May 12, 2010 @ 15:58:49

    3 region: I feel like every time I’ve tasted this coffee, I’ve had a different profile stick to my tastebuds. In that sense, I like the coffee because it keeps me guessing, but I have a hard time drinking it without a food pairing because I tend toward coffees with more distinct, consistent flavors. And although we advertised it as a ‘bold’ for the week we brewed it (and it’s listed on Sbux.com as a bold), it definitely has more of a medium feel to it when drinking more than a sip.

    As for tastings, do people want them in stores more often? I’m new-ish to the blog and comments and am looking for ways to increase coffee knowledge and involvement (both partner and customer), as well as sales in my store (and possibly within my district). Are regularly scheduled tastings an approach that have worked for others?

    Reply

  29. Nathan
    May 12, 2010 @ 17:21:49

    I think 3 region is very berderline between medium and bold. It’s darker than a lot of mediums, but if it were classified as a bold, it would by far be the lightest of all the bolds. Personally I think I’d classify it as a medium.

    Reply

  30. Hayley
    May 12, 2010 @ 18:21:48

    Hi Mindi
    I can’t speak for others, but I had the privilege of attending a tasting a few months ago and wished the Starbucks in my area would do more of them! I know there is lots of issues with labor and not much available time, but I was tickled to attend one! I think it depends too on your customer flow, if you are near a high school with mostly kids coming in for frappuccinos then a coffee tasting may not be as hot an idea.

    Reply

  31. AmazonV
    May 13, 2010 @ 05:00:54

    Contests usually garner more traffic I would think? (esp. when involving a frap!) on the principal that people like free stuff.

    I’ve tweeted a Q about the bold, i’ll post the answer here if i get it

    Reply

  32. JRMY
    May 14, 2010 @ 08:49:33

    I agree that it’s more bold than medium. I would say the same thing probably about Caffe Verona, though.

    CD – washing absolutely affects the Asia/Pacific. It adds a lot to the acidity and brings out some mild fruity tones that are often overwhelmed in semi-washed. Komodo Dragon has some washed in it. New Gineau coffees are often washed. Some coffee shops (ie Stumptown) try to get all of their coffees washed.

    Mindi – coffee tastings are a great way to drive people in to your store and drive WB sales. That being said, due to labor issues, it has to basically be self-supporting re: labor. The best way to do this is through WB sales, though selling french presses, etc is also a functional way. Further, if you do regularly scheduled tastings, they can bring people into the store because they know it’s going on.

    As for everyone participating in the earlier discussion re: espresso from other coffees, I would say that the other major problem is that the Mastrenas are calibrated very speciically for Starbucks espresso roast. If you put any other coffee in them, they will continue to use the settings dialed in for espresso roast. As such, you get a very lackluster espresso from a coffee that makes great espresso (ie Ethiopia Sundried Yergachaffe).

    Reply

  33. JRMY
    May 14, 2010 @ 08:50:08

    Oh, and thanks again for the opportunity to do this Melody.

    Reply

  34. Karl Dahlquist
    May 14, 2010 @ 11:52:38

    After pouring a couple cups and contemplating, I would have to classify this blend as a bolder-medium. ha. Not quite Bold, but stronger than the average Medium.

    Reply

  35. perrik
    May 15, 2010 @ 07:30:48

    It’s medium, and… I don’t like it. Or at least I don’t like it as a hot coffee. My preference is the lower-acid Asian coffees (Sumatra is my usual at-home coffee), and although I like most of the other multi-region blends well enough, this was just too acidic.

    However, I’m thinking it would make a fabulous iced coffee. I hate Gazebo Blend as a hot coffee, but good grief, do I ever love it over ice and milk!

    Reply

  36. Melody
    May 15, 2010 @ 07:46:38

    Welcome to the site perrik. Thank you for the comment. I think the consensus is that it is medium to bold coffee, but not a total true bold, but bigger than the usual medium. I like (Red) iced and get that all the time at my Starbucks. I’ve been meaning to try 3 Region Blend iced too. Thanks for the reminder. Melody

    Reply

  37. Katherine
    May 15, 2010 @ 19:43:37

    As always, when I want info about a coffee, I gotta get it from Melody ;) I haven’t actually been inside a Sbux in awhile, so I was out of the loop with new stuff. So I had NO idea this coffee was out and not a single barista could tell me anything about it that didn’t come from the name.

    It sounds good, well worth a try. I STILL wish I had the palette to pair coffee with food- I never can figure out a good complement to a coffee.

    Reply

  38. Shirley Turnbo
    Jun 26, 2011 @ 09:42:02

    I love love this blend. I purchased two bags. Problem, everytime you find something you like and would buy again, it’s no longer available. Bummer….Okay, I’m a daily customer and would like to see this blend back again….soon!

    Reply

  39. Melody
    Jun 26, 2011 @ 10:01:59

    @Shirley – Welcome to StarbucksMelody.com. Please “like” the blog’s facebook page. Funny, but I like 3 Region better iced than even hot. I suspect it will be back next year about this same time. Stock up on it. I know that my stores around me still have quite a few pounds on the shelves.
    ~Melody

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/StarbucksMelody/180068562003180

    Reply

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