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Dunkin’ Coffee Break with Coffee Experts in Culinary Innovation

Dunkin’ started 2021 off in a big way, serving up the most robust lineup of coffee options in Dunkin’ history! From Extra Charged Coffee to Dunkin’ Midnight to Explorer Batch, Dunkin’ has an exciting option for every coffee lover.

Do you ever wonder who the masterminds are behind your cup of Dunkin’ coffee? Three of Dunkin’s coffee experts on the culinary innovation team are here to give you the inside scoop on all-things coffee at Dunkin’.

Janet Rock, Research and Development Manager

Rock has been a Dunkin’ devotee since 2009, serving as a Research and Development Manager with a focus on Dunkin’ coffee. Rock and her team are responsible for creating new beverage concepts worldwide. Her expertise includes hot coffee, iced coffee, espresso-based beverages, and coffee flavors.


Heidi Curry, Senior Manager Research and Development

Curry has been with Dunkin’ for 13 years, serving as Senior Manager of Research and Development with a focus on Dunkin’ beverages. Curry has always been in culinary, but after starting in beverages, she went to the food side for several years. After serving as Senior Manager of Bakery, she came back to the beverage family.


Jim Cleaves, Research and Development Manager

A seasoned Dunkin’ Research and Development Manager, Cleaves has been with the company for 17 years! Working closely on the tree-to-cup process, Cleaves has traveled the world in search of the best coffee. Since beginning his career, he has become a licensed Q Grader (having passed the world’s most rigorous coffee evaluations skills testing program) and has participated as an International Jury Member for the prestigious Cup of Excellence.

With over 40 collective years of experience working with Dunkin’ coffee, these experts know a thing or two about what you like in your daily cup. Keep reading to learn more about our coffee experts on the culinary innovation team experience and how they deliver Dunkin’ coffee excellence!

How did you get started in coffee?

Cleaves: I started my career in Eugene, Oregon, helping make coffee at a local espresso shop. The owners then opened a retail shop and I worked behind the bar as a pastry manager, but they were looking for volunteers to become coffee roasters and I immediately jumped at the opportunity. They only trained me for a few hours, and from there on I was on my own.

How much coffee do you taste in a day or week?

Rock: We can try up to a couple hundred cups of coffee in a week!

How do you come up with new and exciting coffees like Dunkin’ Midnight and Explorer Batch?

Rock: Making new coffees is like creating a new recipe. You are familiar with the ingredients, what can evolve from each one, how you roast the different origins of coffee, how you combine the origins, and how you brew the coffee. In the end, it all comes down to: what story do you want to tell with this flavor?

Curry: One of the ways we came up with these new flavors was taking a trip around the country. We visited 16 different cities to gather information on what our guests like and don’t like.

What do you think would surprise people about your job?

Cleaves: How complex it is to work with coffee. There is so much that goes into the process from tree to cup that guests don’t necessarily see. You must really enjoy the process and use your experience to create a product that guests will enjoy. It is like baking bread. It is super simple to cook until it comes to the details.

How do you roast coffee?

Cleaves: Roasting coffee is the process of creating and destroying at the same time. You destroy coffee beans to create something beautifully complex in return. You are constantly determining how different origins of coffee beans will blend. The more often you do this, the better you get at it. That is the beauty of coffee!

What do you think makes Dunkin’ coffee so special?

Rock: Dunkin’ coffee is special because of its high-quality. We take our time to figure out how our guests will enjoy our coffee the most. There is passion and commitment behind every cup. Everyone who is involved in the process is helping us create the finished product our guests know and love.

What can we expect to see from Dunkin’ coffee in 2021?

Curry: We want to broaden the horizon of what coffee can be for our guests. Coffee in and of itself can be your final beverage, but it can also be an ingredient and take additives like cream, sugar and flavors. With our new Extra Charged coffee, you are still going to get the same great flavor, but with the additional caffeine, which gives us something new and interesting to work with moving forward.

What are you drinkin’?

Rock: The new Dunkin’ Midnight! This coffee is warming, comforting, smooth, and wakes me up in the morning.

Curry: The new Explorer Batch! But I will always have a special place in my heart for Cold Brew.

Cleaves: A plain shot of Dunkin’ espresso!

To learn about career opportunities at Dunkin’, click here