Friday, 25 March 2011

Coffee as Theatre

Earlier this week I popped into Starbucks (as you do) for a Double Caramel Macchiato to go and I noticed they were advertising a number of drinks branded as "Starbucks Reserve".

The Barista enthused about this select range (there is a choice of three in the UK) of rare coffees and the brewing method used. The range is only available in small quantities in just 10 stores in the UK (six in London, one in each of Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and either Edinburgh or Glasgow). I had, in any case, my heart set on my Caramel Macchiato... but I knew I'd be back!

The following day - having had the idea firmly implanted in my head - I returned to the branch in question, to sample one of the coffees on offer. A different, but equally enthusiastic, Barista was happy to discuss the merits of the coffees on offer before taking my order for a Fairtrade Nicaragua Corcasan.

He then proceeded to make the coffee using the "pour over" method of filtering. This part was pure-theatre; the filter paper (my Barista discussed the merits of cloth vs. paper) is carefully placed in the specially shaped porcelain cup/funnel. This has a hole in the bottom and is placed on a special rack above the cup. He then took a measured amount of my chosen beans and freshly ground them.

Having prepared the beans, he warmed the funnel and cup by pouring some hot water through and discarding. The ground beans were then placed in the filter and water added to create the bloom (i.e. the point at which the grounds become saturated). After letting this settle, he poured the rest of the water through, taking care to continually move the narrow spout so that he "stirred" the grounds with the water stream.

The whole process takes around 4 minutes - and the result is an exquisite cup of black coffee (I wasn't offered milk, but that would have seemed wrong anyhow). More pricey than a normal filter coffee, but cheaper than the "handcrafted" range, this was well worth the cost for the personal service alone.

There's more about Starbucks Reserve range on the UK website here - and on the US site here. If you're lucky enough to live near a participating branch do try it.

1 comment:

Stephen Chapman said...

Sounds really interesting - I will visit Starbucks during my week off I think!