Likening the Starbucks Seattle HQ cupping lab to a corporate boardroom, Fast Company has shared with the world some fascinating insight into the corporate giant’s cupping process.
So as not to let personalities influence perceptions, cupping there is mainly a silent affair between seven quality control managers gathering to slurp some 70 percent of Starbucks’ roasts:
They’re tasting with clear parameters for outliers — is something exceptionally good or bad? Should a bean be pulled from rotation or elevated to a reserve status? Might a particular shipment improve by being aged not three but five years? Does something just appear mislabeled?
And when these outliers are tasted, no one says a thing. Instead, a taster moves one glass in an endless line of glasses just a few inches to the right or to the left. They flag it, in essence, to tell the others “give this one special consideration.” It’s somehow notable.
The Fast Company report does note that the seven Seattle cuppers represent a kind of last line of defense after initial roasting and tasting has been done in Switzerland. But the look inside Starbucks’ operations makes for a good read.