What’s behind the name of the new Starbucks Reserve beverage, Bicerin?


There’s a new beverage on the menu at five Starbucks Reserve locations, and its name and its story may surprise you.

Both begin in Turin, an ancient city nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps where Roman towers still stand sentinel. Torino (as it’s known in Italian) is a delicious mix of old and new, a foodie’s paradise that favors local ingredients and traditional cooking methods.

Torino’s café culture goes back centuries, where intellectuals like Friedrich Nietzsche and Alexandre Dumas drank and argued. Its favored local beverage is bicerin, with heart-warming layers of drinking chocolate, espresso and cream that takes its name from the vessel it is served in, which means “small round glass” in the local language of Piedmontese.

Amy Dilger, from the Starbucks Beverage and Food Innovation team, has been captivated by bicerin (pronounced as bee-cheh-REEN) for more than a decade. A pastry chef by training, she spent time immersing in European culture working in restaurants and hotels there.

“I love the history of food, and I had read about bicerin long before I visited Torino,” Dilger said. “It’s espresso forward, it’s rich and it’s special with thick chocolate and creamy milk with espresso poured on top. When I finally got to visit, I just sat at a café with a bicerin and took it all in.”

Dilger, the creative influence behind Chestnut Praline Latte and Smoked Butterscotch Latte, passed the torch to Starbucks beverage developer Jennifer Galbraith. She shared Dilger’s interest in bicerin, first tasting the beverage at the end of a long bike tour through the Alps. She got to work in Starbucks beverage innovation kitchen and created the two recipes now highlighting these flavors of Italy for Starbucks Reserve locations: Chocolate Bicerin and Pistachio Bicerin. The beverages are available starting today (March 12) at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle and New York, the Starbucks Reserve SODO store and Starbucks Reserve locations in Seattle and San Francisco.

Chocolate Bicerin

“I started with the flavors of the classic bicerin,” Galbraith said. “It’s a pour of chocolate sauce on the bottom of the glass topped with a velvety cold foam crema made with nonfat milk, the freshly-pulled espresso is poured over the top creating a frothy float of espresso between the chocolate and crema. It’s both sippable and spoonable.”

Pistachio Bicerin

“The south of Italy has some of the best pistachios in the world,” Galbraith said. She added their flavor in the crema of the Pistachio Bicerin for a nutty, slightly savory flavor. “The chocolate forms a beautiful base, with layers of espresso and crema on top.”

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What’s inside a more accessible and inclusive Starbucks store?