Sunday, July 10, 2011

Over Coffee With Leslie Wolford

Leslie Wolford is a 20 year partner with Starbucks in Seattle.

Her title is Senior Green Coffee Specialist. Which means she knows a lot about selecting the best beans. Leslie is responsible for ensuring a great cup of coffee happening in your cup.

Leslie moved to Seattle in 1991 from the Midwest. She always liked coffee but didn’t really discover coffee until she arrrived in Seattle. She had initially planned to take six months off and just learn about Seattle. Instead, she decided to apply for a job at Starbucks to hopefully get a better understanding of the culture and everything that’s lovely about Seattle. She was attracted to Starbucks from the "get-go." She loved the vibe in the store, the comfort and the interaction.

Leslie began her career with Starbucks as a barista. She stayed in retail for about 3/12 years. Then she moved on to "roaster," a job she would enjoy for another five or so years. Then it was on to the "coffee planning department" for a number of years. Finally, she got the opportunity join Starbucks Coffee Department which is where she rests her mug today.

When I spoke with Leslie last week, she informed me that “Brewing is a very individual thing." That morning she was tasting Jamaica Blue Mountain (Starbucks Reserve TM) through the Clover Brewer. Clover(TM) brews a really clean cup of coffee.

Starbucks has long-term relationships with all of their suppliers so they’re only buying and sourcing the best coffees out there. They're looking at the supply chain; analyzing it for flavor and quality. Then they move towards buying the coffee.

They don't just say "it's good." They taste it again. And again. Setting up a "roast profile."

For Leslie, Coffee is Life. The rest - just details.

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