New coffee from Colombia selected after surprising discovery

featuring Mackenzie Karr | March 28, 2016
HOME People New coffee from Colombia selected after surprising discovery

It started off like any other day in the Starbucks® Coffee Cupping Room, the space where our experts taste every single green coffee for quality before it’s roasted.

On any given day, the three-person Coffee Quality team tastes between 300 and 900 cups of coffee. (Don’t worry, they spit it out.) They’re sampling coffees from all over the world, looking for specific flavor characteristics.

But on this particular day last fall, while cupping coffee for our Starbucks® blends, something stood out to partner (employee) Mackenzie Karr. She’s a Licensed Q Grader, which means she’s internationally certified to evaluate Arabica coffee.

"I was just going about my business, tasting the [coffee from Colombia], and then I got to one. Normally, you taste it a few times and make sure you’re right before you speak up," Mackenzie said. "But I immediately spoke up to the team after the first taste. I said, ‘You guys have to try this.’"

For this team, finding something different isn’t usually a good thing. They’re searching for coffee that fits a certain profile. Many of the coffees they taste will be used to create our signature blends and other core coffees.

"But this one had this enormous amount of acidity," Mackenzie said. "It was like a sparkling acidity."

One by one, the rest of the team tasted the coffee. They were all convinced something special had arrived. The tasting room discovery eventually became Colombia La Unión 16, a small-lot coffee available exclusively through our Starbucks Reserve® subscription.

"It’s bright and lemony but also really soft...then there’s this really big herbal kick in the finish," Mackenzie said.

Mackenzie says she has already signed up for the subscription and is excited for the special delivery to arrive at her house. And she made sure to order one for her mom, too.

Coffee Notes
Lemony acidity with fresh green-herb notes.

This is our April subscription exclusive. It’s roasted in our Seattle Roastery and Tasting Room, then shipped fresh within 48 hours. Subscribe by April 3 to receive this coffee.


Mackenzie Shows How to do a Coffee Cupping with Refinery29

Zoe Bain of Refinery29 recently visited the Starbucks headquarters with Starbucks coffee education specialist Mackenzie Karr to find out "How to Taste Coffee Like a Pro."

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