Starbucks elite taster spills the beans on City Roastery Microblends

City Roastery Microblends from Starbucks, photo provided by Starbucks
City Roastery Microblends from Starbucks, photo provided by Starbucks /

While many people have their favorite Starbucks coffee roast that starts their day, the specialty City Roastery Microblends celebrate each locale in both flavor and experience. After speaking with elite Starbucks taster Leslie Wolford, these unique coffees deserve a moment to savor because it reflects the spirit of what those cities represent.

Translating an experience or vibe into a flavor is not always the easiest objective to achieve. While places might have a signature dish or an iconic food, coffee is not necessarily the first concept that comes to mind. But, the beverage has a universality across countries and cultures. Even though the serving method varies, there are moments where people sit at a table, sip from a cup, and contemplate their day.

As part of its Global Coffee Week celebration, Starbucks Reserve released six new City Roastery Microblends. Each coffee blend was influenced by the city’s Roastery partners. It is a celebration of the coffee culture within Seattle, Chicago, New York, Milan, Tokyo, and Shanghai.

City Roastery Microblends from Starbucks
City Roastery Microblends from Starbucks, photo provided by Starbucks /

Leslie Wolford, one of Starbucks’ elite coffee tasters, spoke to FoodSided about this special offering. While the care and craft to develop these six special blends is unlike other coffees in the Starbucks line, it is important to better understand what makes a coffee blend unique.

Wolford explained why she appreciates a coffee blend. Specifically, she shared, “I love blends a lot because I think they’re a bit more difficult to develop because you’re taking all these individual components that have unique flavor nuances and then you’re putting them together in a blend. So how do you create the sum of its parts? How do you make them all speak and be well crafted, but you can taste sense of place?”

For the Starbucks City Roastery Microblends, the company went directly to its partners to better appreciate each locale, what is important to that city, how people enjoy their coffee, and a myriad of other sentiments to better understand what makes roastery an important part of coffee culture and community.

Regarding this special offering, Wolford had a hand in creating the three U.S. based offerings. When the idea began, it was more than just another coffee. Wolford said that it was about the people who have a hand in making each roastery special.

Wolford said, “we really wanted the partners voices heard and wanted to know what it meant to be at their location. Why it is about the blend, it is as much about the connective tissue that connects us all. The idea is different from the project brief that usually comes to use but we really talked about the partners’ voices, their reflections, the spirit of what it means to be in their roastery and their city.”

Starbucks coffee City Roastery Microblends
Starbucks Reserve Roasts, photo provided by Starbucks /

The idea with these City Roastery Microblends is to think beyond the ritual that is coffee. While many people must begin their day with that warm mug in their hand, it is more than just a beverage sipped as their eyes open.

For Wolford, the roastery locations are designed to be places where people meet, where there is a sense of community. As she explained, “for me, coffee is very personal. I like to share it with others. I like to think of this theme about how we connect with people in different ways through the lens of coffee. There is a fun and playful way.” At the same time, the spirit of a great beverage is never lost.

Whether it is the Seattle blend, who’s blend has a nod to the adventurous spirit where Starbucks began, to New York City, who is innovative with its approach to a globally relevant beverage, the reality is that each blend is meant to evoke a mood as much as satisfy with great flavor.

Even if people cannot travel to all the roastery locations, this special offering encourages people to be more curious about coffee and the coffee experience. Wolford explained, “you can learn about the places where coffee comes from or begin to appreciate how the different brewing or serving methods impact the flavors. Or, you can just sit, relax and enjoy the surroundings. Whether enjoyed on its own, paired with food experiences, coffee can be all these things.”

Lastly, Wolford encourages people to taste, try, and discuss coffee. As she said, “no one tastes coffee the same way. There are complexities to coffee, just like tasting wine.” From where the coffee comes from to how it is roasted, all those elements come together in each offering. It might be time to change the coffee ritual conversation beyond just the pick-me up to start the say.

The City Roastery Microblends celebrate the six roastery locations: Seattle, Chicago, New York, Milan, Tokyo, and Shanghai. Each offering is available at the respective location and retails $28 for flavor locked 8.8oz bag and $32 for the scoop bar 8oz bag.

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