Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co. is launching our newest limited-time-only flavor, Pecan Sticky Bun. It’s the most recent in a long history of flavored roasts, and we expect this one to be coveted. We caught up with Barnie’s Director of Coffee Programming, Dustin Finch, to learn more about his inspiration for this delicious new blend.
1. What was your inspiration for Pecan Sticky Buns?
When I create a new coffee flavor, I always have to take a few things into account. First, we want a unique flavor that stands out to people. And second, at the same time, it needs to be relatable. I want to create flavors that everyone can kind of taste before they sip, so the thought of it will make their mouth water.
I thought about something that you see all over the world, and how to translate that into a coffee. Everyone drinks a pastry and a cup of coffee, it's kind of a universal thing whether you drink coffee here in Florida, in England, or in Africa, everyone has their pastries and coffee together. My pastry of choice is a pecan sticky bun, specifically one from Empire Bagel in Thomasville, Georgia. I grew up in Palm Bay, Florida and would eat these pastries in the 6 years I spent in Tallahassee from 2010-2016.
It’s right at the Georgia border, and on Saturday mornings, we would drive up there and have a coffee at a local roaster, and then go over and grab a pastry. They’re made with fresh local pecans, with a nice caramelized topping and delicious dough. I thought it would be kind of fun to try to replicate that and see what our customers thought of it.
2. How do you come up with new flavor ideas?
We start with a brainstorming session: we all just start throwing things at the wall. It’s a small team here at Barnie’s, and no idea is a bad idea. We tend to find that certain flavors don't go well with coffee, like citrus, so we make a list and then as a group, we think about what we can expand on.
We narrow it down a bit and each person pitches their series of flavors. It's kind of funny, everyone in our company grew up drinking Barnie’s coffee somewhere. So you really get a wide range and so that's how we start. Each of us draws on our own inspiration. I really pull on my rituals and what I grew up eating and drinking. I think about what I've grown to really enjoy about coffee, and what I associate with it.
3. What food items do you think Pecan Sticky Bun goes best with?
Well, of course, it will go perfectly with a pecan sticky bun! Or if you just want to focus on the flavor of the coffee, I think a plain croissant with butter would be perfect.
4. Can you describe the flavor of Barnie’s Pecan Sticky Bun Coffee in your own words?
It tastes like a really soft flaky pastry. The most common pastry I'd compare it to is a honey bun. But imagine that hot, fresh and delicious, with the pastry consistency of a freshly-made doughnut. Slightly caramelized on the top with a little brown sugar. I like a white maple flavor instead of too much caramel. And then the pecans, they need to be fresh and toasted, nice and crunchy and coated with the sticky glaze. In our coffee, I feel like you can pick out the pecan flavor well. It's a very distinct note.
5. How is your flavoring process different than others?
Because Barnie’s specializes in flavored coffee, we bring four decades of experience to our blends. Our goal is to produce a smooth cup of coffee with the highest quality beans. We use a proprietary flavoring agent, formulate an idea of what each flavor should taste like, and then we apply that and blend to perfection.
6. What is your personal favorite Barnie’s flavor?
Pistachio Ice Cream is my favorite. Pistachio is a different and exciting flavor that blends well with our coffee. It came out in March of last year, and I think it's due for a resurgence to give people a chance to try it.
7. Which flavor makes you the proudest?
English Salted Toffee. It recently got accepted for distribution on all Publix shelves. I think that anytime you get a big customer to enjoy and to approve your product, it's really exciting. I'm really proud of that one.
8. Why do you think people like flavored coffees?
Well, I think today there’s a tendency to spiritualize coffee. People focus on hand-roasting and grinding their single-origin blends and making them with a fancy machine. And that’s all well and good, but sometimes you don’t want to fuss with the process, but you still want to have some variety. And I think that's what's really cool about flavored coffees. I like the variety you can have. Some people think about buying a flavor and committing to that flavor and the same flavor gets kind of old after a while. But if you have a few flavors you can mix it up. Each day you can pick whatever you're in the mood for from your palette of choices. One day you might want Blueberry Crumble and the next Chocolatey Chocolate Hazelnut, and then maybe English Salted Toffee. You can shake up your morning while still having a nice consistent cup of coffee.