Kona coffee, from the eastern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, is one of the most prized coffees in the world and demans a high price tag. The region’s rich, volcanic soil, shaded hillsides and lovely weather produce consistently excellent coffee with a distinctly smooth flavor profile. Unless you’re in Hawaii, it’s not common to see Kona on coffee shop menu boards and it was definitely exciting to see 100% Kona Coffee enter the Starbucks Reserve lineup this month. I jumped at the chance to have a cup from the Clover machine at my local store when they started stocking it.
The coffee is dark and very smooth, with an almost velvety finish. It is fruity and sweet, with a floral hibiscus note to it and a smooth, citrusy aroma. It’s billed as a medium bodied coffee but seems darker, although it doesn’t quite have the earthiness of some dark roast coffees. It’s smooth enjoy that just about anyone would enjoy drinking it.
I’ve seen this sold at several other Starbucks in my area, even those that don’t have Clover machines (unlike some of the other reserve coffees), so it is one that you might want to keep an eye out for and bring home to brew. It goes without saying that it’s well worth indulging in a cup if you’re at a store with a Clover, too.
Fans of the Starbucks Tribute Blend – like myself – you’ll be happy to know that Tribute blend is coming back to Starbucks stores on March 6th. The coffee was originally released in honor of the chains’ 40th anniversary and was made up of a blend of coffees from all of their coffee-growing regions. It was a huge hit – especially with fans of darker roast coffees, who loved the character of this blend.
I have a Keurig, and while the pod coffees that it offers don’t compare to what I can make with my french press, if you get the right k-cups it can brew up a good cup of coffee in less time than it takes to even prep my french press. The convenience is well worth it because there are plenty of times when I just need coffee and don’t have much time to wait around to brew a whole drip pot or a french press.
But do you know how much that convenience really costs?
Spending $.25 – $.50 per pod doesn’t sound too bad when you’re out at the grocery store stocking up. It’s cheaper than running out to Starbucks or even to McDonalds for a cup of coffee. But when you compare the price to that of whole bean or ground coffee, the difference is staggering. Nespresso pods can make coffee cost upwards of $50 per pound, and the same is true of many K-cup varieties. You could drink only pure Kona coffee or even Jamaica Blue Mountain for that same price if you’re buying whole beans. That is because these pods typically pack in only 5-10 grams of coffee.
Is it still worth if for the convenience? Only you can decide that, but it definitely makes me tempted to stick with my do-it-yourself Keurig insert and buy some of that Kona coffee to use in it!
Coffees from the Pacific tend to be some of my favorites, as they tend to make wonderfully complex and smooth dark roast coffees. I didn’t hesitate to try the Starbucks Reserve Blue Java Indonesia when my store got it in – but I did wait until I had tried it a few times before giving it a review here. The reason is that I was actually quite surprised by this coffee and it took a little bit of time for it to grow on me. This isn’t because I didn’t care for it, but because I found it to be a little unusual for a coffee from the South Pacific. While you definitely get some of the richness that I expect to find in a coffee from, say Sumatra, this particular coffee is a little lighter in flavor and quite complex. It didn’t have any of the red berry notes that I look for in Sumatran coffees. Instead, I got a lot of herb flavors from this coffee, including fresh sage and juniper, as well as a little cedar and some dry earth tones (which I usually just call “dirt,” though I certainly don’t mean that in a negative way!).
I liked it from the start, but I liked it even more once I had had it a few times. Those sage notes make this a brilliant coffee to pair with savory breakfast foods (and snacks, if you indulge in a second cup of coffee in the afternoons) and it is complex enough to keep it interesting. I also found that this made a surprisingly good iced coffee, since its lighter feel made it very refreshing when brewed cold.