Friday 3 June 2011

More Blends Join Elite Starbucks Reserve Line Up

It is a safe assumption to make that my excitement at the news of Starbucks launching their reserve blend was akin to that of a giddy schoolboy rushing to the tuck shop. This childlike enthusiasm was fairly well contained in my previous post in which I offered all of you my feelings about this latest venture. Try to imagine my reaction then when my friendly neighbourhood barista at the Bristol Bridge Starbucks informed me of two more blends joining the ranks one of which hailed from the mother of all coffee growing nations; Columbia.

Fair Trade Colombia Asoapia

A quick sip of this fair trade beverage (always a step up in my books) and already you get a herbal hit that smacks your palate, followed by a mild hint of citrus zing. Just when you think that you have tasted the best flavour combinations the roof of your mouth comes alive with a smooth chocolate and nutty undertone. The Asoapia is not strong in flavour but has a noticeable fresh richness. If I were to assign an appropriate reaction it would be a sink into your chair, eyes shut, uttering a satisfactory sigh, akin to what one may feel after sampling a decadent dessert. Of course not wanting to do things by halves my drink was accompanied by a very tasty slice of Starbucks ' hazelnut and chocolate loaf. Since coffee and chocolate are the perfect partners in crime the combination of this lively duo made for a for a very delectable lunchtime coffee break.

Image Credit; John Pavelka via Flick

The Asoapia is a fair trade blend, cultivated by the Asociacian de Cultivadores de Apia Co-operative. The beans are grown in an area of western Colombia surrounded by some of the country's lavish national parks. The protected lands of Natural Tatama, Los Nevados and Paramo De Las Hermosas are rich with a diverse bird population, trees and vegetation that imbues the soil with the right balance of nutrients giving this coffee bean its distinct flavour. Since the land is protected as over farming would most likely deprive the area of everything that gives these parks their Utopian qualities, only a limited crop has been cultivated. This comes very close to outshining my favourite of the reserves, the El Salvador Montecarlos Estate Pacamara.

Ethiopia Ky Kebero

Some of the finest beans, although not necessarily to my taste, do stem from Ethiopia. They always pack a strong flavour but can sometimes be overshadowed by that oh so bitter after taste that has us reaching for the chewing gum/mouth spray (in my case both). I can honestly say that the Ky Kebero (Amharic for "Red Jackal") is the exception to this rule. A quick sip and already your mouth is dancing with a heady mix of citrus, berries and herbs brought even more to life with a smack of pepper. It is an odd sensation in the mouth and is definitely stronger than one might expect from an Ethiopian bean.

Image Credits; Stig Nygaard via flickr

This strength of flavour makes it a beverage best enjoyed on its own, although at the time of drafting this post a part of me was curious as to how well it would couple with a citrus dessert such as a lemon drizzle cake.With temptation resisted, I was fascinated to read that this coffee is farmed near what has been described as the majestically high Bale Mountains. The symbol on the packaging represented the aforementioned Red Jackal, an endangered and rarely seen Ethiopian wolf that dwells high up in the mountains. The bean is harvested and washed using only organic methods, and is produced by yet another co-operative this one located in the Sidamo zone, located south west of the country.

Final Thoughts

I have to admit these latest additions don't quite live up to the high quality of the initial trio of beans, nor did they create they same buzz of excitement. However they do deserve their place in the reserve line up as they are both a few cuts above the regular brews. The Colombia Asoapia is my favourite of the two yet the peppery quality of the KyKebero has curious appeal. Perhaps this will mean more visits to Starbucks Bristol Bridge for more tasting sessions. In case you were wondering, yes the pour over method is also used to brew your special cup.


  1. Great article, I just given this onto a co-worker who was doing a little research on that. And he in fact purchased me lunch because I discovered it for him… :) .. So let me reword that: Thanks for the treat! But yeah Thankx for taking the time to talk abo

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