Starbucks' Thanksgiving Blend Was Designed To Pair Perfectly With The Feast

Thanksgiving is steeped in tradition and favorites, but it's also a well thought-out meal with pairings to complement each dish's flavor profile and keep your palate happy. Pairings like tart cranberry sauce with rich turkey, gravy with mashed potatoes, and whipped cream with pumpkin pie are staples for a reason. The dishes on a Thanksgiving table are pretty much set in stone every year, but finding the right beverage to go along with this multi-course meal can be challenging.

That being said, in 2007, Starbucks coffee manager Anthony Carroll did not take the task of creating the brand's first Thanksgiving coffee lightly; especially because the coffee had to complement the entire meal, not just after-dinner dessert. His goal was to create a blend that could be enjoyed from beginning to end with the sweet and the savory. He decided to take a culinary perspective to accomplish this feat and teamed up with acclaimed Seattle chef Tom Douglas (via Starbucks Stories). 

A blend of Guatemala and Sumatra

Anthony Carroll had plenty of experience creating coffee blends, but this was his first coffee collaboration with Tom Douglas. Starting with tasting a wide variety of coffees in their Seattle cupping room, they began with 10 different blends, per Starbucks. After weeks of blind tests, they finally whittled it down to just two.

"Pairing coffee with dessert is easy, but creating a blend that also goes well with savory foods was more challenging," Carroll said in his Starbucks bio story. The ultimate test came when chef Douglas prepared a Thanksgiving meal in his Seattle restaurant for the Starbucks team. The winner was a blend of coffees from Guatemala's Antigua region and Indonesia's island of Sumatra.

Starbucks barista champion Bryce Conrad described the blend as "rich" and "smooth." Layering flavors proved rewarding, and Douglas explained that the flavor of the coffee "exploded" after taking a bite of the herbaceous turkey. Carroll and Douglas were not only pleased with how well they worked together, but with how well their blend paired with the entire feast. Carroll says, "It's a coffee that complements all the flavors of the season – the holiday sweets, as well as the savory too."