Starbucks to hold tasting of Pike Place Roast and pass out free samples in nationwide rollout.

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For the past few days, Starbucks’ Web site has said, “We’re doing something big at Starbucks. Like Venti big,” and encouraged customers to be at U.S. stores on Tuesday at noon Eastern time, 9 a.m. Pacific.

The company said this morning that the big event is a simultaneous half-hour tasting of its new blend, Pike Place Roast, and a complimentary 8-ounce cup of the new coffee for customers who attend. The blend will be available at about 7,100 U.S. stores beginning Tuesday.

Chief Executive Howard Schultz will be in New York for the tasting, at a mock-up of Starbucks’ Pike Place store in Bryant Park in Manhattan. He will fly back to Seattle for a ceremony Tuesday evening at the Pike Place store.

Starbucks unveiled the new blend at its annual shareholders meeting last month, when it also said that baristas will begin hand-scooping brewed coffee and toss out unsold brewed coffee after 30 minutes to maintain freshness.

Baristas will hand-scoop coffee for customers to take home as well. Most stores will scoop the beans into bags each morning and use any coffee that isn’t sold to make brewed coffee the next day, said Andrew Linnemann, Starbucks’ master coffee blender.

Pike Place Roast will cost $9.95 for a pound, $5.45 for a half-pound. The bags will carry a more modest version of Starbucks’ original logo, a bare-chested mermaid siren.

The new blend, which Linnemann said is smoother and less intense than many of Starbucks’ other blends, was named after the company’s Pike Place store.

That is not Starbucks’ original store, which was at 2000 Western Ave., at the corner of Virginia Street. Starbucks opened in the current Pike Place location in 1977, when its old building was being torn down.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or