A date with Summer Coffee Tasting at Starbucks Coffee Shops

Today I attended the summer coffee tasting at Starbucks coffee shop location at Centrepoint Bandar Utama. My earlier impression about unlimited coffee drinking was incorrect. Well you never know what's it like till you drop by for a look see, look see. In fact it was thoroughly informative. And for those of you who are up there at Cameron Highlands, give it try! Apart from a nice lecture about coffees, you learn about coffee tasting tips and you do get to sample some coffee of the day FOC and a nice little door gift to boot!

Starbucks Malaysia Summer Coffee Tasting

One thing nice was the timing, at 7.30 pm it was just nice. Just in time getting back home, take a shower, then me and my missus drove on to Centrepoint Bandar Utama. My intention was to sit in for the talk and then have dinner at Centrepoint thereafter.

We were a little late arriving at the Starbucks Centrepoint. Emie Maryam, store manager and district coffee master is the host for the this place, and has already gotten underway for the coffee tasting talk. As you know-lah, Malaysian rubber time, they also decided to start a little late knowing Malaysian aren't a punctual lot.

Coffee Tasting

Most time, according to Emie, the talk was about coffee in general, but this time they have a specific topic in mind. It was about the Sumatran coffee beans that Starbuck source from Indonesia. The coffee variety in question was the Sumatra coffee beans and the area specific coffee beans of Sumatra Siborong-borong and Sumatra Lake Toba.

Starbucks coffee beans

It seems the coffee served within South-East Asia and perhaps Asia if I recall correctly have their coffee beans sourced from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Aceh, and East Timor. Although there are good varieties from Vietnam and Thailand, they concentrate more from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Aceh and East Timor. Before they sourced from any country they do need to go through an approval process before using it as part of their coffee blends.

For today's talk, it was not so much about general coffee blends and the process of coffee production but about the unblended coffee based on the geographic location of Sumatra in general, and area specific of Siborong-borong and Lake Toba.

Beginner Coffee Tasting Tips

Since this was the first time I gave coffee tasting a try. So Emie gave a quick low down beginner coffee tasting tips and how to go about doing it. After the brew was made, you will:

Starbucks coffee tasting
  1. Smell the aroma - because tasting coffee is not just the tongue but involve your sense of smell too
  2. Slurp the coffee - yep, you got it, slurp loudly like the Japs drink their miso soup (really!) and slosh it around your mouth to let each part of your taste bud get the full effect, so that...
  3. Locate the taste - right, you will be able to locate where the coffee taste go and the after taste that lingers in your mouth. Thereafer...
  4. Describe the coffee - you could describe the kind of taste just like those wine tasting connoisseur. Being a beginner coffee tasting rookie here, my description would be rather limited!

The description could be things like earthy full body with soft acidity and hints of fresh basil or sweet herbal flavours, etc. Well kinda difficult for me distinguish and compartmentalised the flavour. Oh, ya by the way, to do coffee tasting, the coffee is brewed black. Yep, no sugar, no sweeteners, no milk to cloud the actual taste of the coffee. May not go well with those who are used to drinking with all the frills and chills.

Coffee Blends

While conversing with Emie, I found out that like tea, coffee too needed to be blended to get a consistent taste. So that what you drank last month, today or next week, should taste the same. And guess what? Despite the fact the coffee beans are sourced near to our country, they are still shipped out to USA for blending and roasting, and then shipped back here to the Starbucks coffee shops! I would have thought it would not need to go round the world since they are sourced nearby! There are only three places where Starbucks do their blending by their coffee master, one in Switzerland and the other two in USA. I couldn't catch the exact city or town name but this general location should be enough. Unlike Boh Tea, their tea master is located here in Cameron Highlands to do the tea blending.

Food Pairing with Coffee Tasting Tips

Next break out the dessert! Mmm... this gets a little interesting. Coffee tasting is not just about sloshing black coffee in your mouth, it is also about food pairing. So when it comes to coffee, the food pairing of choice is cheese cake! A good food pairing is when neither the coffee or the cake should over power each other. Unfortunately the cheese cake was far more delicious than the black coffee and so it overpowered the coffee! So much for food pairing!

Starbucks coffee doorgifts and souvenirs

And finally at the end of the session, we were given a door gift which consisted of a bag of unground Starbucks coffee bean (from which location, I don't know, I didn't ask) and a little Starbuck souvenir to take home as reminder to drink more Starbucks coffee, yeah, that's what marketing all about!

Storing Coffee and Use By Period

A final note about Starbucks coffee, once a grounded coffee bag is opened in the Starbucks coffee shop, they are to be consumed within the day, any leftovers are considered expired by Starbucks standard. For general consumers like us, we can keep it for a week or two before the taste is considered a goner. That's kinda short, isn't it? Anyway, that's Starbuck standard.

To keep a ground coffee, it should be stored away from heat, sunlight, and moisture. You may store it in the freezer but not the main refrigerator compartment because of moisture. And you shouldn't take it in and out of the freezer as they would also deteriorate the ground coffee. And if you really want a great coffee tasting experience, buy unground coffee from Starbucks and bring it back to them to be ground and consume it within the day whenever you want to have a great coffee tasting experience on your own or with friends.

Hmmm... a little to troublesome for me to do all that. For me, since I don't drink my coffee black, I think I'll just have their lattes on the spot in Starbuck coffee shops whenever I have a coffee craving.


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