In Dunkin's Coffee Lab, Taste Testers Slurp, Sniff and Spit the Brew — a Lot

"Our guests' tastes have changed, they've evolved, and so we needed to keep pace," a Dunkin' coffee expert said

It takes a lot of work to maintain the familiar flavor Dunkin' lovers have come to expect from their coffee.

The beans, from Latin America, go through an intricate — and noisy — process called "cupping," where taste testers slurp up and sniff black coffee to guarantee the taste. One of them at Dunkin' headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts, Hélène Marsot, noted that the company has similar testing going on in the beans' origin countries, too.

"A lot goes in to a cup of coffee," she said.

It can take a full year and a half to learn exactly how to get "cupping" right, but it leaves Marsot feeling proud every time she sees someone carrying a Dunkin' coffee cup.

"I'm thinking, oh, they must be having a very good time right now!" she said.

Then there's Janet Rock, known internally as "the mother of the macchiato," who is in charge of creating new products for Dunkin', including the new "signature lattes" on the menu.

"We were just playing around in the lab one day and we started kind of pulling off the shelf different things that we had," including some flavored shots, Rock said of the just-for-fun process that led to the signature lattes.

Things have changed since she arrived.

"Our guests' tastes have changed, they've evolved, and so we needed to keep pace," Rock said, so Dunkin' tweaked how it builds its espresso drinks through just about everything but the beans.

One tip from Rock: if you sip the macchiato, you'll get one taste, but swirl it and you'll get something different.

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