President and CEO Howard Schultz is leading a nationwide free tasting of Starbucks' newest brew--Pike Place Roast--in Manhattan's Bryant Park at noon today. The company built a replica of the original Pike Place store there last night. Free coffee will be available at about 7,100 stores around the country today.
Customers will be instructed to smell, then slurp ("by slurping," the guide for store managers says, "you aerate the coffee by spraying it across your palate, which enables the subtle flavors to reach your nose"), taste, then describe. Describing is like "poetry" and involves aroma, acidity, body and flavor, the guide says.
The event is the latest in the company's attempt to connect with customers, become less corporate and be more about the coffee. Coffee tasting--similar to wine tasting--happens all the time at Starbucks stores, but not on such a large scale.