Starbucks Reserve delivers a rare and exceptional coffee experience

Starbucks Reserve is a global Starbucks innovation that delivers an exceptional coffee experience with an exclusive menu, giving coffee aficionados the opportunity to taste and enjoy exceedingly rare, small-lot coffees.

South Africa’s four premium Starbucks Reserve stores are located at Rosebank and Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, Menlyn Maine in Pretoria, and Florida Road in Durban.

Ishan Natalie, coffee connoisseur, three-time South African Barista Champion, two-time All Africa Barista Champion, and Category Lead with Starbucks South Africa, says the Starbucks Reserve offering is gaining traction in South Africa with an increasingly discerning coffee-loving population. “This Starbucks Reserve coffee experience is much like the experience of fine dining, with seldom-experienced tastes, fascinating story-telling, intricate and skilful preparation methods, and highly memorable moments.”

Starbucks Reserve coffees are special – and the rare, small lots are only available on menus for brief three-month or shorter seasons because of limited quantities. Globally, Starbucks buys the top three percent of coffee worldwide, with Starbucks Reserve stores taking the top one percent. Ishan notes, “You are never guaranteed to taste the same coffee again because of how rare the Starbucks Reserve coffees are.”

Starbucks travels the world in search of extraordinary beans for the Starbucks Reserve brand, partnering with small, family-run farms, historic estates, and pioneering co-operatives, contributing to the improved health and productivity of growers’ crops and livelihoods, and ultimately sourcing rare beans with enormous potential.

One of small-lot coffees available on Starbucks Reserve’s South African menu at the moment is the Brazil IP Estate, which Ishan describes as “fantastic as any filter brew method and espresso-based beverages such as a flat white or latte.” This special coffee will not be available for much longer, as it transitions out to make space for another rare coffee.

New on local menus is Ecuador Pichincha. “This is extremely rare and the first out of the region and farm. It is very low in supply due to this. For these reasons we are not brewing it on bar for beverages, but making it available as whole bean (or ground fresh) for home, office or gifting. Our baristas are, however, able to do sample and coffee tastings to give coffee lovers the chance to taste it and to hear the story behind it,” he explains.

Starbucks describes this coffee’s terroir as “the lush Pichincha volcanic region in northern Ecuador, which boasts near-constant sunshine, fertile soil and plentiful water via the Alambi River.” The growers “don’t come from generations of farmers, but rather from nearby towns, most having left urban jobs to move to the countryside to grow high-quality coffee.”

On its way to South Africa’s Starbucks Reserve menus before the end of October is Zambia Isanya Estate. Ishan says, “Zambia is an emerging origin with extraordinary potential, although often overlooked by the specialty-coffee industry. Zambia came late to the coffee growing market, which offers unique advantages. Growers have access to more information and technology than before, and the country has been quick to embrace sophisticated farming, processing and environmental protection techniques.”

The coffee is described as “floral and citrus – orange peel aromas and notes of lemon and melon, with a molasses sweetness.” It will be available across all five manual brew methods, tasting experience options, whole bean and espresso beverage options.

Along with the small coffee lots, Starbucks Reserve menus also feature a range of expresso-based specialities that include Sparkling Mint Espresso, Madagascar Vanilla Bean Latte, Shakeroto Bianco, and Americano Con Crema; a selection of much-loved classics, special tasting demonstrations by coffee masters who present brewing methods and selected tastings; a range of brewing methods – Clover brewed, cold brew, pour-over, syphon, and nitro cold brew by the cup, and coffee press or Chemex for shared brews.

Ishan, whose personal philosophy is ‘Live to inspire, leave a legacy’, says, “At Starbucks and Starbucks Reserve, we’re constantly finding ways to coax a complexity of taste, body and aroma from our special coffees, and we’re constantly fascinated by how different a coffee tastes when made with different premium brewing methods. We’re also delighted when our Starbucks Reserve customers share this – Starbucks Reserve is about coffee, but we’re more than a coffee company serving people, we’re a people company serving exceptionally good coffee.”

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