Feb 13, 2014

Starbucks Blonde Aria and Bright Sky Blends, reviewed

Starbucks Aria and Bright Sky Blonde K Cups

Starbucks recently released two new Blonde Roast coffees to their popular light roast lineup, Aria Blend and Bright Sky Blend. Both are available as preground coffees for the supermarket and they’re also available as K-Cups. Judging by the K-cup collections that I see, and the fact that Starbucks is releasing extra light roasts, I get the impression that the Blonde Roasts are growing in popularity with consumers. For me, the Blonde Roast coffees are very mild. I know plenty of people who absolutely love them because they prefer a more subtle cup of coffee, but I usually prefer the darker roasts, so when I make a Blonde k-cup (or other light roast k-cup), I usually use the small or medium setting on my Keurig to get a more intense flavor from the coffe.

Bright Sky has a light, nutty flavor that reminds me of toasted mixed nuts. There are definitely hints of peanut (although there are no peanuts, so not to worry!) in the coffee. The nutty flavor is smooth and a bit buttery, and it has a pleasantly long finish to it. Aria doesn’t have that nuttiness. Instead, it has a hint of citrus and cocoa to it. It has a cleaner, quicker finish than the Bright Sky, and is a little bit more refreshing.

Of the two, I definitely prefer the Bright Sky, because I like the longer finish and slightly more complex flavor profile. Both are mild, approachable and easy to drink – and as is the case with many light roast K-cups, you can easily adjust the strength by using different brew sizes on your Keurig to make the same coffee work for coffee drinkers with different tastes.

Feb 11, 2014

Starbucks Valentine’s Day Gift Pack Giveaway! (closed)

Starbucks Valentine's Day Giveaway

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that most of us associate with chocolate -and what goes better with chocolate than coffee. I know that I always enjoy having a mug of coffee or a creamy latte alongside a box of chocolate truffles. I’m happy to announce that I’m giving away a Valentine’s Day Gift Pack from Starbucks to one lucky reader! This gift pack includes one Valentine’s Day Mug, one Sweetheart 2014 CD and a box of each flavor of Starbucks newest blonde K-Cups flavors, Aria and Bright Sky, which is everything you need to start off a lazy weekend morning with your sweetheart.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post and, in honor of Valentine’s Day, tell me what your favorite coffee and chocolate combination is. Do you like a classic mocha latte or do you prefer to add in other flavors, like orange or caramel? Do you keep it simple and pair your chocolate desserts with black coffee? It’s always a great combination and there is no wrong answer. This contest ends Saturday, February 14th at Midnight, so get your entries in before then and you could end up with a wonderful Valentine’s Day treat in the mail next week! Don’t forget to leave your e-mail in the contact form (this information will not be made public) because that is how I will contact the winner!

Update: This contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone for participating! A winner will be announced soon!

Feb 10, 2014

Dumb Starbucks Opens, Tests Parody Laws in Los Angeles

Dumb Starbucks Sign

A few days ago, a coffee shop opened in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. A coffee shop that wasn’t just another Starbucks, but was instead a Dumb Starbucks. It looked like a Starbucks and served coffee, but everything on the menu – right down to the music CDs for sale at the register – had the word “dumb” in front of it. Coffee-lovers in the neighborhood didn’t know what to make of it at first, but they lined up anyway because all that coffee was being given away for free, along with free pastries from a local grocery store.

The store appears to be testing parody law, which basically permits an imitative work to be created to mock or comment on or trivialize a person, topic, company or some other target, by means of satiric or ironic imitation. They have posted a FAQ inside their store (posted below, click to enlarge) that implies that the whole store could be considered to be an art installation – though whoever conceived the store has not revealed why she/he/they decided to target Starbucks in the first place. In fact, the creator(s) of the store has not yet come forward at all, leading to even more speculation. Starbucks, naturally, wants to put a stop to the whole thing because simply adding the word “dumb” to something else is a pretty weak parody attempt.

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Feb 8, 2014

Maple Latte with Maple Whipped Cream

Maple Latt with Maple Whipped Cream

Maple syrup is always a staple ingredient in my kitchen. I use it to top pancakes and waffles, but I also use it for other things, like making Maple Lattes. Maple syrup is a great sweetener for coffee drinks because it is very easy to incorporate into both hot and cold drinks, and the caramel notes that you get in maple syrup are also often found in coffee. This maple latte starts with espresso and maple syrup, is topped with hot milk and finished with a maple-kissed whipped cream that is good enough to eat on its own. If you don’t have espresso, you can use strong coffee and simply increase the ratio of coffee to milk to balance out the flavors a bit.

Different grades of maple syrup have different maple flavors. Lighter colored syrups, typically called Grade A or Light Amber, have a milder maple flavor than darker colored syrups, called Grade B or Medium/Dark Amber. You can use any type of maple syrup to make this drink, but you’ll get the best maple flavor with a darker colored syrup. I used Grade B for both the whipped cream and the latte. After adding your syrup, taste the coffee to ensure that it is as sweet as you want it to be, and if it needs a little extra maple flavor, just add in a little extra maple syrup.

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