Behind every delicious Dunkin' Donuts drink is a person who spent years taste testing it to perfection. Janet Rock, senior research and development technologist for Dunkin' Brands, who's responsible for the cold brew and salted caramel syrup (to name a few), talked to Cosmopolitan.com about what really goes down in the culinary lab.
Spoiler alert: She can taste test up to 200 cups of coffee in one day. TBH, I would pay for that many cups of coffee in a day, never mind be paid to have that much coffee in a day.
You'll literally spend half your day taste testing coffee.
"I’m part of the coffee excellence team, and as such, I have to review and monitor our quality and supply. This means [checking] the physical aspects of the coffee like the size and integrity of the beans. It also includes flavor specifications that the coffee must meet.
I always start [the day] with black coffee taste testing. I need to be able to pick out positive elements of the coffee or faults in the coffee — we're very strict. We look for positive flavor attributes as well as negative or off flavors in the coffee. If there are certain faults in the coffee like a rotten fruit flavor, we reject it. On any given day, I will start tasting coffee first thing and that could go up to 200 cups."
Coffee tasting is a lot like wine tasting.
"[When I'm taste testing] I'm not drinking a full cup of coffee. Think of it like wine tasting. You slurp to get the flavors across your tongue. A lot of your taste actually comes from your sinuses, so aromas are a big part of flavor and taste."
It can take three years to create one new drink.
"We were dabbling in cold brew for the last two to three years. [We had to] figure out what would work for us, because it was a new process for our crew. This means we had to find a way that would meld into their work style easily. Besides that, it was figuring out what flavor notes we wanted in the beverage — our cold brew has a nice bittersweet chocolate finish. To get that flavor, we went through dozens and dozens of taste tests. [We had to] make sure we had the right blend and were coming up with the right recipe with the right ratio of coffee to water. There was a lot to take into consideration."
You need to have a #CoffeeGoals standard in mind.
I will taste [the drink] dozens of times at different times of the day. My taste buds are always more alert earlier in the day. If I'm working on a syrup for coffee, I will also try it in different coffee beverages like hot coffee, iced coffee, or lattes."
"We do quite a bit of consumer taste tests. Those are blind and we’ll take them to different cities in the United States. I would say the vast majority [of drinks are consumer taste tested]. If you want to participate in market research, look for a market research firm in your town or nearby city. The public can sign up with these companies that are testing all sorts of products. Usually the tests are blind, [which means] you may not know the brand that is conducting the test, but it can be fun and your opinion makes a difference."
You become a pro at coming up with your own "secret" drinks.
Surprisingly enough, you won't get tired of coffee.
"I don't [get tired of it]. It's like I want more and more, really. Being overcaffeinated is a risk. I try to start each day with a healthy, non-sweet breakfast that usually includes whole grains to moderate the caffeine intake."