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Starbucks Reserve Coffee – my unique coffee experience

It’s not every day that I get to be treated to coffee tasting of a premier kind. I was very lucky to have been invited to this special coffee-tasting experience at one of the existing two Starbucks Reserve branches in the Metro.
At a blogger gathering at the Tomas Morato Starbucks Reserve store, we listened to the Starbucks team, headed by Keith Cole, tell us about these rare coffee beans.

In the Philippines, there are only 4 Starbucks Reserve blends and the coffee beans are extremely rare, limited, and hand-picked for the Reserve brand specifically for their distinctive flavors as well as unusual locales around the world.
Lucky us….we got to try each one of these four rare coffee blends together with special food items that can be found only at the Starbucks Reserve stores and go very well with each cup of Reserve coffee.

The Coffee Masters



Walk into a Starbucks Reserve store, order a cup of Reserve coffee and you’ll notice that the barista who will prepare it wears a black apron, unlike the other baristas who don green aprons. They are Starbucks’ Coffee Masters. Not all baristas of Starbucks are Coffee Masters. In order to carry the Coffee Master title and wear the black apron, I learned that they had to undergo special training and had to master knowledge of ALL things coffee — their history, types of beans, locations, varieties, taste, preparation, etc. Whew!

In order to get the most sensory experience from the Reserve blends, the Coffee Masters prepare each cup carefully only upon order. I watched them first place a #2 coffee filter on top of a ceramic brewer and mug set. The beans are ground only when about to be used so that they are fresh all the time. Even before pouring in the ground beans, the Coffee Master preps the filter by pouring hot water over it. I suppose it’s a good way to bring out the initial aroma of the coffee beans as these touch the hot, wet filter. Once the filter is wet, coffee beans good enough to make one cup of coffee are poured into the filter and once again, hot water is poured on the ground beans, allowing the liquid coffee to run down a tiny hole in the brewer and into the ceramic mug.

Here’s a quick tour of the 4 different Reserve blends and food items so you’d have some idea.

First, the Reserve Coffees

Globally, there are different Starbucks Reserve coffee blends but four of these were specifically chosen for the Philippine coffee lovers.

Starbucks Reserve Sumatra Blue Batak

My first sample came from Sumatra’s prized coffee-growing region on the southern shores of Lake Toba. This region is about 3,900-5200 feet high. The variety that the Batak tribe grow there is smooth and earthy with sweet herbal notes, a full body and low acidity. Tasting this one gives you a hint of cacao or dark chocolate.

Starbucks Reserve Zambia Peaberry Terranova Estate

The beans were grown on the rich soil of the Terranova Estate 4,000 feet above the sea. This medium‐bodied coffee with notes of apple and vanilla consists of smaller, handpicked peaberry beans, which are roasted to provide a medium body and acidity that pairs well with citrus, apples, and chocolate. For me, the Zambia Reserve coffee blend was the mildest of all the four blends so if you are looking for great coffee that is not too strong, this is it.

And…better try the Zambia blend soon. I also found out that it will be available for a very limited time only since the beans are now in limited supply. No worries though because another Reserve blend will be taking its place when that happens.

Starbucks Reserve Finca Nuevo Mexico

High in Mexico’s Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountain range sits the El Triunfo Biosphere and Finca Nuevo Mexico family‐owned farm. While much of the lush area is a refuge for rare wildlife, the remaining area produces a bright, complex, uniquely flavored coffee bean.

Of the four blends, I found this blend to be the most acidic. There is a citric taste to it with a hint of the sweetness of brown sugar.

Starbucks Reserve Sun-Dried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe

The district of Yirgacheffe is located 6,000 feet above sea level, a perfect mix of sun, air and soil. We were told that coffee beans here were placed in between berries. No wonder when we tasted the coffee, there was indeed a hint of berries in it. This is my favorite of the four!!!

The Starbucks Reserve coffee blends are not only available within the Reserve stores. They are sold in packs so you can continue to enjoy the coffee experience of these rare coffee beans in the comfort of your own home if you have a coffee press.

What is Reserve Coffee without matching Reserve Food?

To pair off Starbucks Reserve coffee blends with equally great food, Starbucks created six (6) Reserve Exclusive Food to go with the four Reserve Coffee blends.

1. Carrot Muffin – Muffin loaded with carrots, walnuts, and crushed pineapples and topped with cream cheese.

2. Double Chocolate Muffin – Muffin with creamy chocolate truffle and topped with chocolate chunks

3. Granola Cheese Muffin – a muffin packed with crunchy granola and cream cheese filling

4. Blueberry Scone – a light, buttery and moist scone loaded with blueberries

5. Apple Cinnamon Scone – a delicious, moist and buttery scone packed with cinnamon apples

6. Black Pepper and Cheese Scone – a sweet and savory moist scone flavored with cheese and pepper to give it a spice touch.

Just my two cents: The scones are very dense and filling. Order them if you want something that will make you feel very full. Otherwise, if you want something light only, go for the muffins.

There are currently two Starbucks Reserve stores:
* Starbucks Reserve Tomas Morato
* Starbucks Reserve 8 Forbes Town

And more Starbucks Reserve stores are coming soon:
* Starbucks Reserve Keyland Centre
* Starbucks Reserve Central Square
* Starbucks Reserve Signa