Starbucks: coffee’s journey

Hannah Collings – Staff Writer

CLARION, Pa.- A small group of 10 Clarion University students gathered in Starbucks Nov. 9 to learn from Katheryn Lavelle about the Starbucks coffee roasting process.

This presentation, “The Journey of the Coffee Bean,” was done in partnership with the University Activities Board (UAB). Students were invited to enjoy a post-lecture coffee tasting, sampling free light, medium and dark roasts.

More than 400 hundred million cups, or about 110 million bags, of coffee are sold per year, Lavelle said. The beans to produce this coffee are harvested from trees which grow along the equator, the coffee belt.

These trees flower and then grow a red berry called a coffee cherry. Inside these cherries are a parchment, a jelly-like substance, and a final skin covering the two green beans.

How these beans are processed, in addition to the location in and altitude at which they are grown, determines its ultimate flavor. Attendees of the lecture were given a coffee-tasting wheel. Half of the circle listed tastes, and the other half, aromas.

Students were first invited to taste a blonde roast coffee, the Veranda blend. These beans are roasted for the least length of time. Lavelle described that the harvested green beans are put into a “large, rotating drum” in which they become more yellow in color and “smell like buttery vegetables.”

The beans make popping sounds and emit steam as they lose moisture through roasting. Blonde roasts contain the most caffeine as caffeine burns out of the beans the longer they are roasted.

Students were given two 3 ounce paper cups for each tasting. They filled one with black coffee, the other with water. The proper way to taste coffee, Lavelle explained, was to smell it, then “taste it, let it sit on your tongue, take a sip of water right after.”

Students were then to consult the taste or aroma wheel to assess where that particular blend fell. Lavelle described the Veranda blend as “mellow and citrusy.”

The coffee tasting also included the Pike Place medium roast and a seasonal dark roast, the Thanksgiving Blend. Like with wine, Lavelle said there are certain foods that pair well with different coffees. For example, Lavelle noted that the Pike Place roast pairs is complimented by chocolate, cinnamon and nuts.

Samantha Bonner, a student employee at the Clarion Starbucks, will soon undergo training to become a certified Coffee Master. Lavelle said that Bonner, after being educated through the Starbucks Coffee Program, will be qualified to present further coffee seminars such as ones on coffee and food pairings and “brewing methods.”

Lavelle also discussed future events with UAB members, garnering much interest in a tea-tasting event.

Starbucks began to prepare for the holiday season the next day, serving drinks in its seasonal red cups. Lavelle previewed a further tiding of the season: the company is releasing a snickerdoodle-flavored hot chocolate on Dec. 1. The company currently has three seasonal hot chocolates and various other time-sensitive beverages which cause Starbucks enthusiasts much angst in the off-seasons.

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