December 08, 2013 Keserwan Lebanon Middle East

Starbucks: Celebrate the Holidays with a Special Blend

A barista for a day? Sure, why not? I reached Starbucks new branch in Kaslik, put on the red apron and stood behind the counter. This is a job not to underestimate. It can get overwhelming, remembering, mixing, what goes with what and so on... But nevertheless exciting... Celebrating the holidays with Starbucks' special Holiday Blend has become a yearly ritual since 1984. 'Tis the season again and I was there just in time to experience the new flavor. We were welcomed by friendly Francois Sadek, Operation Manager and his team, where a journey of aromas and flavors surround one of the world's favorite beverages: Coffee.
Let's learn more about Holiday Blends at Starbucks:
  • The Holiday Blend started in 1984
  • The name: Aged Sumatra
  • The coffee beans in Christmas Blend are from Latin America, Asia/Pacific and Sumatra are first roasted separately and then blended together to create this special flavor
  • Blend from Latin America and Indonesia
  • This coffee is taken care of like wine, aged in style and perfection for five long years
  • Aged Indonesian beans are known for their unique spicy and syrupy flavors
  • Coffee has three different roasts: blond, medium, bold. This one is bold
This year Christmas Blend brings bright, lively Latin American coffees together with smooth, mellow Indonesian coffees, including rare aged beans from Sumatra. The aged coffee dramatically balances the overall flavor to create luscious, sweet, spice notes. Crafting this coffee embodies the best of everything Starbucks does—sourcing, roasting, blending, exploring, perfecting and sharing.
Starbucks New Kaslik Branch:
  • A large rectangular space with its high ceiling makes you want to spend long hours around here
  • Large glass facades welcome natural day light in style
  • Look up as you enter to discover the huge designs covering the walls
  • Some items are proposed for sale facing the entrance: who doesn't love the signature Starbucks coffee mugs
  • A long bar, to the left prepares any of your cravings in style
  • Inside is a small,l more intimate room with a few tables
  • The place is filled with real light colored wood
  • Sofas here and there fill the space for the ones who like to relax and stay longer
  • Dark wood round and square tables blend perfectly with the general decoration
  • The floor is covered with wood parquet
  • The walls covered in wallpaper are decorated with coffee art paintings
  • The right sided wall has a long brownish painting
  • The space is perfectly lit with chandeliers and soft yellow dimmed light that relaxes you
  • Dark wood, light, brown, beige and grey, are colors that remind you of Latin America and coffee manufacturing
  • Starbucks' simplicity expresses luxury
Opened in Lebanon since 1999, Starbucks sells drip brewed coffee, espresso-based hot drinks, other hot and cold drinks, coffee beans, salads, hot and cold sandwiches and panini, sweet pastries, snacks, and items such as mugs and tumblers. Many of the company’s products are seasonal or specific to the locality of the store. Starbucks_Holiday_Coffee_Special074 Some of the food choices on sale at Starbucks:
  • Double chocolate muffin, skinny blueberry muffin, cheese croissant, chocolate twist, raspberry muffin, apple cinnamon muffin, blueberry muffin, chocolate chip cookie, double chocolate cookie, oatmeal raisin scone, chocolate brownie, lemon biscotti, marble biscotti, strawberry cheesecake, blueberry cheesecake, dark chocolate sable, apple almond tart, chocolate fudge cake, Oreo cheesecake, granola and mango yoghurt, chicken pasta salad,
  • A choice of sandwiches (turkey and cheese, chicken Caesar, spicy chicken wrap, Arabian gallium, light than brown sub, four cheese and roasted tomato focaccia, steak and cheese)
We were invited to taste Starbucks' special Holiday blend. We sat around the big table filled with the required ingredients for a successful pairing. On a large space, covered with a white table cloth, small carton cups and other transparent plastic ones were awaiting to be filled. In the middle, three large plates including ginger, pepper, lemon, sugar-apple, basil, almonds, mushrooms, spices, chocolate powder, avocado, pomegranate, orange, nuts, thyme, beetroot and much more. With these items we can know and better taste and compare the ingredients of the coffee blend.
Coffee was prepared in a special stainless filter jar by Bodum, pressed and kept to rest for four minutes. Afterwards, we were served and taught the proper way to smell and slurp coffee so it dissipates all around the mouth for an adequate feel. The tongue has a big role to play in here.
The Four Steps of Coffee Tasting:
  • Smell: Our sense of taste is directly influenced by our sense of smell. When tasting a coffee, smell it first. Place your hand over your coffee mug or tasting cup. Hold the cup close to your nose and inhale. What do you notice? Describe the?aroma.
  • Slurp: When tasting a coffee, it is important to slurp it. By slurping, you spray the coffee across your entire palate. This allows the subtle flavors and aromas to reach all the tasting zones of your?tongue.
  • Locate the experience on your tongue: As you taste a coffee, think about where you are experiencing flavors on your tongue. Note the weight of the coffee on your tongue.
  • Write a description: Use descriptive sensory words to express the dominant characteristics of the aroma, the flavor and the way the coffee feels in your mouth. Your own past experiences provide great reference points. What food or other experiences can you compare it with?
4 Parts of the Tongue:
  • The front is where you taste sweetness. These flavors include things like sugar and milk chocolate
  • Just back from sweet we have salty. A lot of times I will notice that sweet will leak into salty. Flavors would include blandness, sharpness or softness. I will often experience a dry acidity that will captivate the sour and salty parts felt on my tongue
  • Just back from salty is sour. These flavors include winy or sour characteristics. I get a fruity or tart flavor in this area of my tongue.
  • In the very back is bitter. This is where finish will often come into play. How long does that bitter flavor linger? Which characteristics or flavors linger in you mouth and from which part and for how long?
Let's learn more about this season's special blend... The holiday special coffee to mark the season:
  • Roast: Dark
  • Growing Region: Multi-Region Blend
  • Tasting notes: A complex, hearty and full-bodied blend, with aged Sumatran beans adding spices and depth
  • Coffee that gets better with time: The secret in this blend is rare aged Sumatran coffee. Under carefully controlled conditions, time can do wonderful things to a coffee bean (just as it does for a fine cheese). As the unfrosted beans age, they develop rich and distinctive earthy spicy flavors
  • Red bags of 250gr each
  • Buy the bag of coffee beans and grind it depending on how you will be drinking it - espresso, dripped coffee (metal filter, paper filter), percolator, Turkish coffee...
The food proposed today:
  • Four cheese and roasted tomato sandwich
  • Turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich
  • Arabian halloumi panini
  • Four cheese sandwich
  • Cheese cake: blueberry, raspberry and Oreo
  • Fruit salad in cups
  • White and dark cookies
  • Different kinds of muffins

I tried the Four Cheese, the Turkey and Swiss as well as the Halloumi and all were superb. Without going into all the details, let me assure you that the sandwiches are exquisite; soft and tender bread filled with premium ingredients and  perfectly seasoned. I really enjoyed them.

In my opinion, this coffee is better enjoyed with nuts and almonds. Grab a bunch of almonds which are filled with omega 3 and enjoy a beautiful start of day that will zest you up.  Afterwards, when you reach the last few sips, eat a rich dark chocolate that will pair beautifully with this particular coffee. I got myself a bag of the holiday blend to enjoy home with friends and family.
Categories: Spotted Stories





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