There is no name associated with coffee that is more iconic than Starbucks. Starbucks coffee is known all over the world with over 22,000 stores in 50 countries. The first of which opened in 1971 in Seattle just outside of the historic Pike Place fish market. Interestingly, they didn't even sell the coffee drinks they are now famous for, only beans. It was not until a trip to Italy that one of the founders realized his dream of bringing that famous European coffee house experience back to America. That he did and he did it with a vengeance.
By the way, the Pike Place location I mentioned is still open and serving thousands of drinks to this day. As you can imagine, it draws quite a crowd. In fact, lines can be seen down the street for most of the day filled with Starbucks ' biggest fans thrilled to experience a piece of their history. But, don't worry, from what I have read the line moves very quickly as it is staffed by only the best of the best baristas. Rumor has it they seem to be a bit of a cross between Pike Place fish tossers and bartenders...it is not uncommon to see cups flying through the air from server to barista and vice versa.
Now, if there is one other name in coffee that may be able to give all of that rich history and pop culture idols a run for its money...it's Keurig. Combine these two and man oh man you have one heck of a powerhouse.
The decision-makers at Starbucks are clearly no dummies, they truly have their pulse on growing trends in the coffee industry. I am certain that they saw and worried about the growing popularity of Keurig products. There is no denying this new fangled concept of single-serve coffee brewing was a huge threat. However, how could Starbucks compete? Tell their customers no, no don't enjoy gourmet coffee in your own home, in under a minute, at a fraction of the in-store cost?
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
In late 2011, Starbucks and Keurig joined forces. Creating a coffee lover's ultimate dream...freshly brewed Starbucks coffee...the same exact coffee you get at their coffee houses...made perfectly at home.
Now, don't get me wrong, Keurig was pretty darn lucky to gain Starbucks as a roasting partner as well. Although, 2011 was pretty late in the game for K cups and they already had hundreds of varieties of coffee's none have the same driving force as Starbucks. Simply put, people go gaga over this stuff!
There is an ever-changing variety of Starbucks K cups available but, I thought I would highlight the basics. These are the old standby's that you will see in their stores pretty much at all times.
Starbucks Veranda Blend K cups are the lightest roast they offer. Starbucks coffees tend to have a distinctive taste that I am not exactly sure how to describe other than smoky. This taste can be a bit strong for some coffee drinkers. This my friends is the reason that Veranda Blend exists. This is lightly roasted coffee or Starbucks calls it- blonde. Despite being on the lighter side it is still packed with the depth that you have come to expect from this coffee giant. Veranda provides a soft, mellow, easy to enjoy cup of joe.
Starbucks Breakfast Blend K cups offer us a medium roast coffee with similar characteristics to Veranda but with just a little more kick. By kick I do not mean caffeine, I am referring to the mouthfeel and depth. It is slightly heavier but still not quite as overpowering as some of the darker roasted Starbucks K cups.
Yep, you guessed it, Starbucks Pike Place K cups are a tribute to their roots. This blend is a throwback to their original roasting days. Pike Place is a medium roast coffee packed with nutty undertones and a smooth finish. Again, this is a nice middle-of-the-road coffee but, as with all Starbucks choices, it is a bit bolder than one might expect from a typical medium roast.
No more messing around, now we are getting to the coffees that have made Starbucks famous. Caffe Verona is a dark roast K cup with an intense, bold taste. It is beyond full-bodied and leaves delicious smoky flavors lingering on your tongue. Caffe Verona is another of the original Starbucks Blends, pleasing the pallets of millions for over 40 years.
Coffee does not get any more extreme than this. The combination of one of the darkest roasting methods possible with the classic Starbucks smoky flair and this brainchild is born. Starbucks French Roast K cups are for true dark coffee fans. Despite all of this intensity, this stunning K cup coffee is able to finish smoothly and sweet.
As you can see Starbucks has gone all-in with their Keurig offerings. I am so happy to see that they did not play any silly games like...you can only get "ABC roast" in our stores. Nope, they gave us free rein to brew all of our favorites in K-cup format.
But, don't be confused. Starbucks is so on board with the brew at home concept that they have released their own coffee machine called Verismo along with a line of pods. You can not use Kcups in the Verismo machine or vice versa. However, I have yet to see this brewer grow in any sort of popularity. In addition, you may have heard the name Via. This is another pod concept with a twist- it is instant coffee. Although I avoid instant coffee like the plague. I can see the appeal for camping or other situations where a brewer is not an option.
So there you have it, Starbucks has us pretty much completely covered with all types of coffee- in-store, ground, whole bean, K cups, Verismo, and Via. What's next? Who knows but, I for one can't wait to see what they have up their sleeve for future coffee offerings!
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