In case you missed it, Dunkin’ recently announced the launch of its next coffee blend in the Limited Batch Series, Sunrise Batch Hot Coffee! Sunrise Batch is a medium roast, full-bodied blend with a bright and smooth taste, and notes of cocoa, tangy sweetness and toasted nuts. As compared to Dunkin’s Original Blend, which is lively and smooth with notes of caramel, Sunrise Batch tastes brighter and has a nutty finish.
In honor of this new hot coffee blend, members of Dunkin’s Quality Assurance and Commercialization teams shared the inside scoop on how it came to life. Keep reading for more details on Sunrise Batch Hot Coffee from Emily Travers, Quality Assurance Manager and Ellen Rogers, Senior Manager, Dunkin’ Commercialization.
Sunrise Batch coffee beans are sourced from two different areas, Latin America and Kenya. What evaluations do Dunkin’s coffee beans undergo before being selected?
Travers: All Dunkin’ green coffee is evaluated for sensory and physical parameters. That includes grading the coffee, roasting and cupping (drinking) the coffee, and many other measurements. Every coffee type has a unique set of parameters it needs to meet to be certified Dunkin’ quality. Here at Dunkin’, we work with labs within the country of origin that perform these quality checks every day. Our labs work to determine which beans meet Dunkin’s specifications to ensure our roasters here in the U.S. get the beans needed to give our blends their signature tastes.
What characteristics do you look for in coffee beans when creating a new blend?
Rogers: We look for what we call attributes in our coffee beans. These include acidity, body, sweetness, balance and finish. For the Kenyan coffee beans in our new blend, the sweetness was a very particular factor we looked at because African coffees tend to have a higher fruity and citrusy sweetness to them. All our coffees will have different levels of these attributes and that is how we profile them. This also helps us determine which traits come from which countries and how to incorporate those into blends.
This is the first time we have sourced coffee beans from Kenya. How do you decide when to source from a new location?
Travers: We work very closely with the Research & Development and Commercialization teams to determine the type of green coffee (or coffee before it is roasted) they are looking for in their latest innovations. Coffee, just like fruit, comes in different grades. The R&D team specifies what grade of coffee from a specific region they are looking for by carefully selecting physical and sensory standards. We then make those standards into a specification that will define what the Dunkin’ grade of coffee will look like for that region.
What are origin labs and how are they used to ensure quality of Dunkin’ coffee?
Travers: We work closely with labs that exist in the countries our coffee is sourced from, aka “Origin” labs. The coffee professionals there certify all Dunkin’ coffee before it can be shipped to our roasters. That certification process includes passing both physical and sensory testing so that the beans look and taste just right. Our expert ‘Cuppers’ taste hundreds (yes, you read that right!) of cups of coffee each day to certify our beans meet the Dunkin’ specification.
Rogers: In addition to managing coffee quality certification, our labs give us a physical presence at origin and allow us to have first-hand knowledge of anything that could affect the coffee quality or supply. They are a physical representation of Dunkin’ to the local coffee industry and help us maintain close ties within those communities and train them on our quality standards. Our Coffee Quality Assurance Team here at Dunkin’ regularly travels to origin to meet, train and collaborate with coffee suppliers on the ground.
What is the cupping process and how was it used when creating Sunrise Batch Hot Coffee?
Travers: Cupping is a sensory process in which the quality of a batch of coffee is tested. Our Sunrise Batch Hot Coffee underwent a two-part cupping process. First, we cupped and evaluated the green coffee for both the Latin American and Kenyan beans before they were blended to ensure we were selecting the right quality of green coffee. Then, we cupped the finished product once it was roasted. During the second cupping, we ensured that Sunrise Batch had the exact characteristics needed to meet the smooth and bright profile the R&D team designed.