Starbucks debuts Gin Barrel-Aged Cold Brew to lure coffee drinkers to Seattle Roastery

Key Points
  • Starbucks' Seattle Roastery is now offering a cold brew, made from coffee beans aged in a gin barrel.
  • The beans are roasted in small batches, which burns off the alcohol, but packs in the flavor, the company said.
  • The new cold brew is just one way for Starbucks to make Roastery locations even more enticing for coffee lovers.

Starbucks is once again reinventing the coffee experience, this time with gin.

The coffee giant is now offering Gin Barrel-Aged Cold Brew at its Roastery in Seattle. Like the company's Whiskey Barrel-Aged Sulawesi beverage that it debuted last year, this drink is made by placing coffee beans in a barrel for several weeks, and hand-rotating it every so often so that the beans absorb the residual flavors left inside the container.

Starbucks said the cold brew will pick up notes of pepper, cardamom and vanilla from the gin barrel. The beans are then roasted in small batches, which burns off the alcohol, but packs in the flavor.

"The beans absorb the botanical essence of the gin, bringing out its bright citrus notes with a sweet caramel finish," Jennifer Galbraith, Starbucks manager of product development for research and development, said in a statement.

The brew is distilled into a concentrate, mixed with ice and a dash of lime bitters and finished with tonic and a lime garnish.

While the coffee giant's traditional locations have been serving up whimsical Frappucinos, its Roastery and Reserve Bars are catering to a very different and more upscale audience. These megastores, at 4,000 square feet, are twice the size of a typical Starbucks and are designed to offer small-batch roastings.

The company's flagship Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room opened in its home market of Seattle in 2014 and the company added the Shanghai Roastery late last year. Several more locations are set to open over the next few years.

It has been Starbucks' hope that these Roastery locations will become destinations for coffee drinkers. The company also uses its Roastery locations as test kitchens. Several drinks that launched at the Reserve Roastery were later rolled out nationwide at its Starbucks cafes, including Nitro Cold Brew, the Smoked Butterscotch Latte and Cascara Latte.