THUNDER BAY – LIVING – Iced coffee is an increasingly popular beverage. Once thought of as a summer treat, it is now enjoyed year round.
Michelle Sundquist, a 17-year partner (employee) on Starbucks Research and Development team, shares the story behind Starbucks newest iced coffee beverage. Cold Brew will launch in more than 2,800 stores in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern United States and select Canadian stores in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.
“Iced coffee and espresso beverages have a stronger, roastier flavor with a bit of nuttiness that comes from brewing with hot water,” Sundquist said. “Our Cold Brew is smooth and rich, it’s very refreshing with chocolate and light citrus notes.”
Cold Brew is coffee steeped using cool water, while traditional iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee at double-strength and pouring over ice. Iced espresso beverages – such as an Iced Latte or Iced Caffè Americano – are made by combining espresso shots with cold milk or water and ice.
Sundquist said that at the beginning of the development process, a small team started out by tasting and talking.
“We began by asking what we wanted from Cold Brew,” she said. “Then we looked at qualities of the coffee created through the cold brewing process, and began to narrow in on the specific flavors we wanted – and that involved looking at different roast levels, coffees and cold brewing styles.”
Next, the team started to pull people in, doing blind tastings with a variety of coffees from different regions and different blends. “We landed on what’s now Cold Brew Blend,” she said. “It combines coffees from Latin American and Africa, and is specially designed by the Starbucks coffee team for this brewing method.”
The team also experimented with the brewing time, with different coffees needing to brew longer or shorter to get the full spectrum of flavor.
“Our goal was to find the perfect spot where the coffee was rich, dense and slightly sweet,” she said. “We found that 20 hours was the right balance of sweetness with citrusy and chocolate notes.”