Browsing articles from "October, 2011"
Oct 20, 2011

Starbucks Reserve Hawaii Ka’u, reviewed

Starbucks Reserve Hawaii Ka'u

I have always been a big fan of Hawaiian coffees, because they typically have the richness and deep berry flavors of Sumatran and other south east Asian coffees with a smoothness that you don’t find anywhere else. So, naturally, I was excited to see a Hawaiian coffee enter the Starbucks Reserve lineup, Hawaii Ka’u. What I didn’t expect was how popular this coffee was (at least at my local store). Other Clover fans went nuts for this coffee and the store was sold out in just over a week! Fortunately, I was able to get a few tastes before it was gone (I even had two cups – one for me and one for a friend – from the very last bag in the store) – but I was unable to snap an interesting picture of the bag, so we’ll have to live with the stock image of the product.

The coffee promised to deliver a note of coconut and it didn’t let me down. It reminded me of an Almond Joy: dark chocolate, coconut and toasted almond. The coconut was subtle and mellow, and it didn’t stand out from the other flavors as a distinctly tropical note, just added a mellow sweetness to the other flavors in the coffee. There were no smoky or burned notes in this dark coffee, but the coffee had a very deep flavor and very, very smooth feel to it.I preferred it hot, but it also worked quite well over ice. It wasn’t as refreshing as some of the lighter coffees can be when served over ice, as it had a more substantial feel and was something to be sipped, not gulped on a hot day.

I think that this was one of the most expensive Reserve coffees that I’ve had to date. From that angle, it’s surprising that it sold out so fast. On the other hand, fans of Hawaiian coffee clearly knew that this was not one to miss. I’m staying hopeful that they bring this one back (even if I have to wait until next season).

Oct 16, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Pumpkin Spice Coffee

A little spice can brighten up an otherwise ordinary cup of coffee – and add a little extra seasonal flavor. Pumpkin spice is a combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg that is typically used to season pumpkin pie and other pumpkin desserts (hence the name), but shows up many other kinds of fall dishes. I’ve even used it in chili before! But like many flavors that work well in desserts, pumpkin spice also works well in coffee. You can add a splash of spice to the top of a latte, but to really get some fall flavor, I like to add this combination of spices to my coffee while it is brewing.

The amount of spice should be added to taste. You can sprinkle the spices over the grounds before turning on your coffee pot or you can blend them with your coffee beans in the coffee grinder, if you’re working with whole spices. I use about 1/2 a teaspoon of ground spices when I’m working with already ground coffee, and slightly more when I’m grinding them fresh. Either way, you’ll get a pot of coffee that has a wonderful aroma and a distinctly fall flavor. It is especially good when you’re making coffee for a crowd and want a little something different. I topped my cup with pumpkin spice marshmallows for even more spice – and a very cute look.

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Oct 10, 2011

Starbucks Reserve Guatamala de Flor, reviewed

Starbucks Reserve

This picture may not be the most exciting I’ve ever posted, but the promise of a cup of Starbucks Reserve Guatamala de Flor makes up for it. This coffee wasn’t at the top of my Reserve tasting list because I’m not always a huge fan of central American coffees, but I shouldn’t have put it off. The Guatamala de Flor was one of the smoothest and most interesting coffees from the region that I’ve tasted to date (and certainly one of my favorites, though of course I can’t claim to recall every Guatemalan coffee I’ve tasted). I found it to be much more difficult to describe than some other coffees. Many coffees will come out and hit you over the head with bold, distinct berry and citrus notes. This coffee is a little different, because it is incredibly smooth and, while it is very complex, the flavors in it just seem to blend together seamlessly. It has a lovely herbal quality that reminds me a lot more of rooibos tea than it does of the sort of herbs that grow in your garden, with mild hints of citrus (no tartness, though) and even a hint of aged wood. It has a bright flavor and leaves a lingering, complex flavor in your mouth – much like a good Chardonnay.

This is a medium roast, and like the lighterKenya Tana River Reserve coffee, this makes fantastic iced coffee. That tea-like herbaciousness makes it very refreshing, and the full flavor of the coffee comes through without a hint of bitterness.

I should also add that not just one, but TWO Starbucks stores in my neighborhood now have Clovers and a fantastic selection of Starbucks Reserve coffees, so you can look forward to more Reserve reviews as more coffees are released. I know I’m looking forward to trying them!

Oct 3, 2011

Coffee fueled car sets speed record

Coffee gets us going in the morning, but it also gets The Coffee Car going in the morning. The coffee car is a heavily modified Rover SD1 redesigned by a team of British engineers that is powered by organic waste – specifically, coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are a waste product in thousands of coffee shops and there is plenty of it to go around. Many shops will even pack up leftovers as “grounds for your garden” for people looking for fertilizer or compost. This coffee fueled car is sort of an extension of that. The coffee grounds are dried and turned into pellets, which are used to power a machine built into the car that turns them into fuel.

The record that the car set was a land speed record for a car powered by coffee. You can bet that there weren’t too many competitors, but the fact that they got that car up to more than 70 mph (average speed of more than 65 mph) says a lot for the success of the project. That said, I don’t think we’ll see a wave of coffee powered vehicles in the future – but I am hoping to see this one appear on an episode of Top Gear someday.

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