May 12, 2012

Starbucks Reserve Organic Galapagos San Cristobal, reviewed

Galapagos Coffee
I was fortunate enough to visit the Galapagos a few years ago, and I did see locally grown coffee for sale on San Cristobal while I was there. I don’t remember it making as big an impression on me as this Reserve coffee did, although I do remember being pretty satisfied (and surprisingly so, since when you travel coffee can be a crap shoot) with all the coffee I had. Needless to say, I was excited to see that Organic Galapagos San Cristobal was one of the newest Starbucks Reserve offerings this month. Galapagos has some very interesting microclimates and can be a great place for growing coffee, although you wouldn’t necessarily expect that to be the case.

This coffee is produced in very small quantities by a single farm, Hacienda “El Cafetal.” It is a medium bodied coffee, with a wide range of interesting herbal notes to it and a very clean finish. I didn’t get as much citrus as I find in many other coffees from nearby regions, and that plus the herbaciousness of the coffee made it very unique. It is very refreshing and fantastic iced, although I definitely like it hot as well. This is probably one of my favorite Reserve coffees to date, and it is at a good price point (for such a rare coffee) that this is one I’m taking home with me and not just having from the Clover.

May 3, 2012

Starbucks comes to the Happiest Places on Earth

Disney Starbucks

While theme parks can certainly offer up some tempting snacks, they’re not exactly known for the quality of their food or beverage offerings. Disney is hoping to upgrade their coffee options by partnering with Starbucks, who will be opening stores inside all six Disney properties in both California and Florida. The stores are going to be designed to blend in to the parks, so they won’t look like the Starbucks that you might see down the street. In fact, there won’t be any Starbucks logos visible from outside the store, and the cafes will have their own names. There will still be Starbucks branding and drinks inside, of course, so you will know what you’re getting when you venture inside the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe – as the Starbucks location inside Disneyland will be named after the Three Little Pigs.

The stores and baristas will match the themes of their locations and blend in to the parks, but the entire drink menus will be Starbucks. There may be a few signature Disney items, such as Mickey shaped cookies, available for park-goers as well. No news on prices yet, though we’re guessing that it might be a bit more expensive than your average Starbucks location, much like airport Starbucks’ tend to be.

Apr 20, 2012

World’s Largest Coffee Cup

World's Largest Coffee Cup

I may drink a lot of coffee, and but I’m not sure that even I drink enough to need the World’s Largest Coffee Cup. This crazy cup can hold up to 160 ounces of coffee – or the equivalent of 20 regular cups! Since the cup doesn’t offer much in the way of insulation, you will need to be a serious coffee drinker in need of a serious caffeine fix to get through all that coffee while it’s still nice and warm. The mug – which would require me to brew more than a full put of coffee in my drip brewer – probably won’t be easy to reheat if that coffee gets cold.

Of course, this mug is really a gift item and it is an impressive one for a coffee lover. I would skip the coffee and fill it up with chocolate covered espresso beans to get the impressive effect of the mug and still be able to get a little caffeine out of it (without going overboard!).

Mar 30, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Cappuccino

Mexican Chocolate Cappuccino

The term “Mexican chocolate” can refer to many different types of chocolate they all have one thing in common: they’re spicy. Mexican chocolate, in just about every form, is flavored with a variety of spices, and you’ll find flavors that include cinnamon and a variety of ground, dried chilies to add some heat to the mix. I’ve had it in brownies and desserts, but Mexican chocolate makes a fabulous hot chocolate and you can find it on the menus at many higher end coffee shops. It’s also easy to use Mexican chocolate to spice up your drinks at home. You can buy bars of the chocolate at many regular grocery stores these days and grind them up to stir into hot chocolate. I like to make my own mix and use it for drinks like this sweet-spicy Mexican Chocolate Cappuccino.

The mix I make includes cocoa powder, shaved dark chocolate (for extra richness), sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and a generous pinch of ground chipotle or pasila chilies. Cayenne pepper can work well, too, but should be used more sparingly as it doesn’t seem to blend quite as well with the chocolate. I’ll make a big batch and keep it in a ziploc bag for when I’m in the mood for some kicked up hot chocolate, but you can mix it up a drink at a time.

For the cappuccino, I combine the mexican chocolate mix with coffee and whisk it very well, then top it with steamed milk. Sprinkle some on top for garnish at your own risk, as those chilies can offer some real heat when they touch the tip of your tongue!
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