Coffee Master Presentation

I just have to share my joy with you! Today, I had the great honor and pleasure of attending a friend's Coffee Master Presentation.

What is a Coffee Master?

It's a Starbucks partner (employee) who has an exceptional passion and knowledge about coffee: 

  • Where and how are coffee trees / cherries planted and grown, harvested and processed?
  • What about ageing, roasting and blending?
  • Once you hold your bag of whole beans in your hands, what do you need to know about grinding and brewing?
  • What single origin or blend goes well with what food pairing?

An interested person who has been working for Starbucks for a while and enjoys learning and sharing these facts with team members and customers, will have to do a lot of studying and tasting to prepare, and once they're ready, they get to hold a presentation and lead through a coffee tasting in front of their manager and other interested parties.

So this is what happened today for my friend Sophia!

I brought a friendly good luck charm. His Seattle spirit added to the overall atmosphere. God, I have missed this!!

I didn't even remember, but introducing this Coffee Master Program was one of my tasks as the person in charge of HR, Training & Development when I first joined Starbucks in 2004. Since it's important for a decent role model to preach what you teach, I underwent this process two or three times during my tenure. 

It is the goal of every store to have at least one Coffee Master. Usually there is an annual competition within a regional district to evaluate the District Coffee Master, and once this is done, there is the Coffee Ambassador Program that - after another competition -  will produce one person who represents and entire market for one year. Usually they get to travel and meet the other countries' or regions' counterparts, visit a roasting plant, and do additional things that will add to their knowledge and passion. 

Really cool stuff!

As I was saying, I was a "Support Center Coffee Master" for a couple of times. Never, however, have I actually talked about as many topics as my friend did! She's literally a walking coffee encyclopaedia!

Her manager on the left hand side has been working for Starbucks Switzerland ever since I was there. He's probably one in a handful of former colleagues who are still there. It's always a pleasure to see him again :-)

Back then, one of the other legends of the Swiss & Austrian market,  introduced me to an extraordinary food pairing to Sumatra coffee: raw mushrooms and Camambert cheese. 

Don't knock it till you try it! It goes really well, as it complements the herbal, earthy flavor of this South Asian coffee. 

So when you taste coffee, you go for the following components: aroma, acidity, body and flavor. The way this is done is by smelling, slurping, locating the mouthfeel and describing your experience, pretty much the same as in wine tastings. 

Good thing - after the mental stress of an hour-long presentation and coffee tasting - she remembered to take an ussie! And what a sweet one it is!

I thoroughly enjoyed this afternoon! While working for Starbucks I didn't have many opportunities to attend these fun events. If I got out of the office to visit a store, it was mainly for interviews or terminations. So being a former partner and current customer definitely has its benefits!

Thanks for a great time, team Europaallee!


  1. I can't imagine the mushroom and cheese pairing, but as I don't ever drink coffee, that's probably my ignorance showing.

  2. OH TAM this is awesome and it is so much fun. I had the opportunity to do it once virtually and it was definitely an experience. I wish I had written about it. And I wish I had the knowledge about the company then that I have now. I really will have to try the mushroom and cheese pairing. When I saw the picture I was like "ick, coffee and mushrooms". I am behind ... studying is hard work. Promise to catch up with you and read the #1000 post soon. Cherri-o my friend.

  3. How fun! My daughter worked for Starbucks for several years while going to high school and through college. I don't remember her talking about a Coffee Master but I do remember she was Barista of the Month a couple of times.


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