Many of us can agree that there is something special about Starbucks. From the moment you walk into any one of their coffee houses, you are instantly hit with that uplifting aroma of roast coffee, and their drinks are consistently flavourful with that signature kick to them. Most coffee fans acknowledge that Starbucks coffees are more robust than those you would get in other cafes. Understandably there is a lot of curiosity regarding the source of their coffee beans.
Starbucks uses 100% arabica coffee beans, which they source from over thirty countries in three of the main growing regions, Africa, Latin America, and Asia-pacific.
Once the company has sourced their beans, they roast them in the United States before distributing them to more than 14,000 stores countrywide.
First, let’s look at Starbucks’ coffee growing practices and how ethically sourced their coffee beans are. We will also examine their roasting methods and the type of roasted beans they use for their blends. This information is essential to gain a better insight into what gives Starbucks its distinct flavors.
Where Does Starbucks Get Their Coffee?
Starbuck sources their coffee from the world’s three main growing regions, Africa, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific. They only use 100% Arabica beans which is among the best type of coffee beans. Arabica coffee produces refined flavors as its high acidic content offers more complexity to the beans.
Undoubtedly, the journey of coffee beans from farm to cup is a challenging one. The plant itself is extremely difficult to grow as it only thrives at higher altitudes, anywhere between 3000 to 6,000 feet, making it harder for the workers to harvest.
In addition, the cherries take a long time to develop due to the hot days and cooler nights. However, this long growing period helps the cherries and the beans inside develop their rich flavor.
Since opening their first store in 1971, buyers from Starbucks have made the arduous journey to far-reaching areas in Latin America, East Africa, and Asia, developing a good relationship with the farmers and communities. To this day, the company sources its beans from the same mountainous regions of the coffee belt.
Is Starbucks Coffee Fair Trade?
According to Fairtrade America, Starbucks is one of the largest buyers of Fairtrade coffee globally. The company has always strived to source its coffee beans respectfully for the growers and the region that produces the beans. Arabica coffee is sourced ethically and grown sustainably.
Starbucks has worked with Fairtrade worldwide since 2000. The company has funded farmer loans of over $14 million in Fairtrade cooperatives to honor their commitment to helping farmers strengthen their enterprise and minimize risk.
In addition, Starbucks established C.A.F.E. in 2004 to lay out guidelines for growing, processing, and sourcing to guarantee that every cup meets farmer equity.
The guidelines are in place to help the company assess supply chains; this involves evaluating thousands of farmers to see which ones produce the best quality and practice environmentally and socially ethical coffee. There are numerous socially responsible classifications for coffee growers.
However, C.A.F.E.’s program is comprehensive, and it sets minimum expectations of suppliers while promoting constant improvement in sustainable coffee production practices. The practices of C.A.F.E. focus on three main categories:
The farmworkers are the essential focus in the first category. It looks at wages, benefits, education, and healthcare for the workers and their children. This focuses on ensuring that their living conditions comply with national laws and conventions at an international level and a zero-tolerance policy on child labor.
This category looks at environmental issues like deforestation, soil care, wildlife preservation, agrochemical use, energy, and water use and maintenance. It is also involved with improving farming methods that support long-term productivity while maintaining healthy soil.
It has stipulated the importance of growing shade trees, resulting in biodiversity and protection of wildlife habitats, and bringing proper waste treatment to minimize environmental impact and the use of agrochemicals.
This division examines the coffee’s taste and coffee-growing economics to ensure that workers are being paid equitably. In addition, third-part inspection officers conduct audits of supply chains, visit a proportion of the farms, check if the water sources are protected, that pest management methods are appropriate, and that there is good biodiversity.
These inspection agencies examine how much and how frequently workers are paid, together with their living quarters. In addition, inspecting officers check that the water is clean and treated at the coffee mills before being released back into the environment after washing and de-pulping the cherries.
What Is The Standard Starbucks Coffee?
The standard coffee option at Starbucks is Pike Place Roast; it’s a medium roast that they use for drip coffee. You will taste subtle cocoa notes with toasted nuts for a smooth, well-balanced flavor. For espresso-based drinks, Starbucks uses an espresso blend with a medium-dark roast.
Many coffee enthusiasts remark about the strong taste of Starbucks coffee, but it’s because they use a medium to dark roast, which has a stronger flavor. Unless you ask for a lighter coffee, you will get the default medium to dark roast.
There is a misconception that dark roast has a higher caffeine content due to its strong flavor. However, there is less caffeine in dark roasts than in light roasts because the light roast is denser.
Starbucks has a wide range of coffee blends in varying roast shades, and it’s essential to become familiar with their menu. Their full range of coffee:
- Blonde Roast
- Willow blend
- Veranda blend
- Medium Roast
- Pike Place Roast
- House blend
- Breakfast blend
- Dark Roast
- Espresso Roast
- Caffe Verona
- French roast
- Italian roast
- Decaf Komoda Dragon blend
Starbucks’ Blending And Roasting Process
Once the coffee beans are harvested, they leave the farm and are sent to Starbucks’ roasting plants in the United States. It is there that they develop and maintain the coffee beans flavor. Each coffee needs slightly different roasting times and temperatures to create a brew with an excellent aroma, acidity, flavor, and body.
The company’s team of master roasters use their knowledge to develop its extensive range of roasts. The company has spent almost 50 years developing its roasting techniques to enhance the natural flavors in each coffee.
In each roasting category, coffee beans are roasted to bring out their individual characteristics. As a result, their coffees are available in three different roasts.
1. STARBUCKS BLONDE ROAST
This is their lightest roast as it takes shorter to roast. It has a lighter body with delicate flavors.
2. MEDIUM ROAST
These coffees are smooth and balanced with rich flavors.
3. DARK ROAST
These coffees have a fuller, bolder flavor compared to the other roasts.
Before Starbucks roast their coffee, the green beans smell like sweet grains or vegetables, and it’s through roasting that the beans inherit their acidity, aroma, flavor, and body. Each roast tastes unique.
For example, the willow blend, which is on the light side of the roasting spectrum, possesses a mellow and soft taste with delicate cocoa notes. Starbucks French Roast is a dark roast coffee with caramelized notes and a deep flavor.
Many people think that because dark coffee tastes strong, it must therefore be higher in caffeine, but that is not the case. Light beans are denser than dark roasted beans, so each one contains more caffeine, and as dark roasts are less dense, they have less caffeine. So, if you truly need a kick-start in the morning, opt for a light roast.
Even within a roasting category, you can taste variety among the coffees. Each one has its own character, determined by its origins, roast, and processing method, not to mention how it’s brewed in-store. You need to try all of them to discover which ones you like.
It’s essential to understand Starbucks’ blending process as they enjoy showcasing coffees from around the world. Starbucks presents some coffees as single-origin, while the rest are a creation of different blends.
They blend coffee to bring about certain flavors. As a case in point, their House blend combines three Latin American coffees to show the best qualities of those regions. The resulting flavor is clean, lively, and well-balanced. Their Gazebo blend showcases African coffees to release bright, lemony flavors. This blend is ideal for iced coffees.
Starbucks only uses the best Arabica coffee for all their drinks, and they acquire their coffee ethically. They have a wide range of coffee blends but only three roasts.
If you are unfamiliar with their extensive menu and don’t specify which type of roast you like, you will get a medium to dark roast for espresso-based drinks or Pike Place Roasts for drip coffee. It is helpful for you to know what’s available to try different flavors and truly know what you like.
Starbucks certainly knows their coffee and what their customers like. When you look at their menu, you will see that some of their coffees are single-origin, while the rest come in blends. The reason for this is that some coffees taste their best when they are on their own, while others need to be part of a blend to bring out certain flavors.
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