Archive for the ‘coffee’ Category

The Breakfast Blend Taste Test!

July 12, 2011 1 comment

On Thursday 8th July 2011, we launched our new range of VIA products to the public in the form of Breakfast Blend! Breakfast Blend is the lightest coffee we do and is ideal for those first morning drinks to get you started for the day. So it was the perfect coffee to be brought into the VIA family, already populated by Comlumbia and Italian Roast.

So with the VIA in full operation, I decided to do a coffee tasting with a difference with my partners. Our Coffee Tastings normally consist of trying one of our coffees with a food pairing and expereincing the different aspects of the coffee. The smell, the taste, how bold it is, aftertaste, etc. But with this particlar coffee tasting, I decided to do a taste test between the Breakfast Blend VIA and Breakfast Blend – French Press! I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to test out my partners taste buds and see how well the Breakfast Blend VIA held up against the french version and if it was really real coffee in an instant!

I started by setting up the coffees. With the Breakfast Blend beans, I used a french press as I personally think its the best way to drink coffee. You get more of the favours and taste from a simple french press (prove me wrong!). I measured the right amount and started to

get things rolling! With all this, I thought of a great way to orginize the cups. I went about labelling the bottom of the cups so I knew which was which, but no one else did. This was a test that I wanted to fully embrace and not mess up. I was getting excited by the taste test as I was really wasn’t sure how it would go. Would they know straight away, and put all my hard work to waste or would it open doors to the power of VIA and what it can do for coffee drinkers everywhere?

I’ve always been a strong believer of VIA from when I first heard about it, and how it could really change the way we drink coffee at home. Finally a coffee that you could drink in an instant at home that didn’t taste of something horrid. That’s actually one of the reasons I didn’t drink coffee til working at Starbucks; home coffee never tasted good. It never sat right with me. But VIA finally came and gave me the taste I craved at home when I wasn’t near a starbucks.

Copyright James S Warwick

So with this love of VIA and what it can do for people, I wanted to show everyone else that VIA isn’t an instant but ‘an coffee in an instant’ and shouldn’t be dismissed as ‘well its not quite the same as ‘proper’ coffee is it?’ So this was my way of doing just that; to show the blur between the two. And what better way that to test it on our own partners. The ones that should know coffee inside out and truely know which is which!

Everything was in place for the tasting. I had four cups of VIA in one side of the tray, and four cups of french press on the other. I knewwhich was which, but the other partners did not. I got each one of the partners to try one from each line, doing the usual tecniques required in a tasting as well as sampling some lemon loaf cake as lemon goes well with Breakfast Blend.

Each one had a taste and thought about it for a while, each one taking their time to fully endulge in the drinks and give a verdict on them.

 Everyone said that the Breakfast Blend was very light and easily drinkable. Something that would be perfect for the mornings to start the day with as it picked you up but didn’t leave a aftertaste with them. It had hints of citrus and went well with the lemon that was offered.

What the partners didn’t agree on however was which was which in the cups. Four of my partners tried both and it was 2 vs 2 to regards to what was what. One partner remarked saying ‘This one is 100% french press as its stronger and goes down better than the other one. I know its french press’. What was remarkable was that he was actually drinking the VIA when thinking it was the french press! The VIA was seen by two of the partners as the french press and the french press as VIA! The other two (both been with the company for a collected 10 years in Starbucks) knew which was which. But this was still a fantastic result for me. This showed that the line between the french press version and VIA was almost unseen, something that Howard wanted to begin with. VIA wasn’t to be seen as a cheap version of coffee, but to make it easily to get that Starbucks experience at home. And this proved it. Everyone remarked how close they were in taste and how no one would be able to tell if it VIA was sold as drip coffee.

That was music to my ears. This was what Starbucks intended and they have knocked it out of the park. This shows that VIA should be seen as not as the little sister of Starbucks coffee but as a massive component to bringing Starbucks to the homes of millions!

I wish everyone would be able to experience the Breakfast Blend VIA in their stores soon as its a perfect morning drink to get you up for the day and ready to tackle anything! Right now its only available in the UK (aren’t we lucky!) but I have sent some over to a oversees friend so I’m sure you will get a verdit from her and you never know, you may be seeing it in stores soon!

 I’m off to bed now as it’s 1:01am over here and I’ve been on this for most of the day. I hope you enjoyed the blog and please give me feedback on what you think. This is still very much a learning process for me, and I hope you enjoy the blogs I do! Until next time everyone.

All photographs are property of James Stuart Warwick Photography (apart from the Breakfast Blend VIA 12 Pack, taken from so if you wish to use them, please credit! Thank you


Starbucks In The Uk…

…in Paris!

Paris, France is a beautiful place to be in. The sights, the sounds, the beauty! Well I had the chance to visit with my lady for a few days and I did not pass the chance to have a look at the Starbucks there.

I imagined that the stores in Paris would be of completely different design and shape, but I was plesently suprised! The stores were the same to the ones I know and love. Every detail seemed to be the same as any other Starbucks, but it still had its unique Paris parts to it. It had the Paris tumblers and cups for sell, and all the leaflets and menus in french. It was funny to see the boards I know all too well in a language I didn’t know.

While the drinks were the same as in the UK, the food was very different. They did types like French Toast, creps, pancakes, and more. They all looked amazing and very tasty. Another thing was that they did freshly pressed orange juice frappucinos. I didn’t get a chance to taste them but everyone seemed to be buying them!

France don’t yet use Starbucks Cards and was weird when told I couldn’t use it as its second nature for me now! But that was fine as I still got my discount (some 30%, some 10%. I guess it depended how much they liked me!).

The drinks were the tastiest I’ve ever tired in a starbucks. I believe the milk used in France is far suprier to the english (sorry guys!) and I think that makes for one tasty drink. All free drinks I had were all very very tasty and wish to import their milk to try here!

The store that got me most excited and wowed however was the store at Disneyland Paris! This store is a LEED store, which is special enough! But the design really took me! It’s so beautiful and well made. You feel you are walking into a world within a world. And its all made from reused items in Paris, from Wood in the store coming from retired barrels reclaimed from the French wine industry! It really wowed us in there and didn’t want to leave!

Well I will leave you with that and some photos of myself outside the store! I hope you enjoyed and I will catch you tomorrow 🙂

Categories: coffee, disney, Paris, starbucks

A little bit about myself…

The last week I’ve been off work as booked holiday up to see my girlfriends parents in the north of England (right near Sheffield!). I’ve just got back but as I’m not at work till Monday, so I don’t actually have much to speak of!

So with that in mind, I thought I would introduce myself a bit more and how my two 1/2 years in Starbucks has made me grow as a person.

I started my Starbucks life in March 2009 after leaving my previous job of retail manager at chemist Boots. I felt after 13 months of Boots that I need something new and interesting, something to get me excited to work again. Starbucks wasn’t my first choice though…

Before I never knew a great deal of Starbucks apart from they served coffee. It wasn’t until I started to work that I knew the wonder of the place. Before I knew nothing, but as I worked I learnt that Starbucks was more than just a coffee shop. I knew it was a family.

My store is a fairly small store but I was originally meant to be Shift Supervisor for a neighboring store in a Borders store, but I guess I was liked enough at Above Bar to be kept there. I’m glad I did as I quickly built a friendship with everyone there and after a month felt like a family with them.

And what a family I was brought into! Every part of the world covered in out store. We have Polish, Cameroon, South African, Asian, British, Latvian, and more!

(Funny Fact of the Day: I am the only person that works at my store that was born in Southampton! Love feeling special!)

Anyway, back to my story. I was a shift supervisor for about 20 months and I learnt a huge amount about myself during that time. I built relationships, learnt to enrich people lives, and serve great coffee! But during this time, I also entered university (I was 23 when I started uni, having worked for 7 years full time in retail before deciding on uni) and my attention to detail was slipping. I was no longer the partner I once were and I had to make the decision to step down as supervisor and become a Barista.

At first this was a huge decision as I was so proud of who I was and how I lead my team. I was proud calling a store mine for the day and making people want to work with me and make peoples lives. However with university, that was slipping out of my control so by deciding to step down I could give my 100% time to the customer and their experience while still being committed to my studies . I was free to be there for the customer and make things happier for me. I could be both things and all for the greater good. I loved my role but I felt this was the best way to go.

And for about 8/9 months I’ve been loving my shifts at the store. I’ve become Coffee Master and my love for Starbucks has grown and grown. Here I work for a company that CARES about their partners and customers. A place that wants you to interact with people and make their day that extra special.

August 2010So there you are, a little about myself to hopefully make a bit of sense of me and myself. I hope you enjoy and I look forward to Monday when I’ll hopefully be back at work and will be doing a Coffee Tasting of the new Breakfast Blend VIA vs Break Blend French Roast.



Categories: coffee, starbucks