STARBUCKS RESERVE: Sourcing World’s Exotic, Rare and Exquisite Coffee Beans

Starbucks Reserve

Location: Tomas Morato; Ground Level, Burgos Circle, Eight Forbestown, Forbes Town Center, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
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Facebook: Starbucks Philippines
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Twitter: @starbucks

Had I not encountered La Colombe Coffee Roasters‘ CEO and coffee adventurer slash junkie Todd Carmichael on Dangerous Grounds, I would not have fully appreciated, even for a small part of me, Starbucks Reserve. The concept was completely flawed. I wasn’t expecting their execution to fail, especially as its one of the world’s most successful brands who really know what they’re doing.

Starbucks Reserve

A lot were dismayed when Starbucks at Tomas Morato suddenly renovated, but joyous when learned that the place was going to be one of the flagship branches of their third wave coffee ride, Starbucks Reserve. Rumor from a good friend of mine has it that Starbucks baristas had to train at Craft Coffee Revolution to get themselves immersed in the specialization and mastery of third wave coffee. Threat in mind? Toby’s Estate. Mind you, Starbucks Reserve aims to have more than 500 stores worldwide, a feat not easy to pull, and now its making me doubt.

I was supposed to ignore Starbucks Reserve completely in my food mind map. Starbucks will always be your second wave coffee, your Starbucks chill place, your Frappuccino. But then, curiosity got the better of me so I decided to stop by Tomas Morato branch, hoping its on its merry way to becoming one of the country’s best third wave coffee, much like their predecessor aims.

Starbucks Reserve

But I was really disappointed. I stepped inside the dimly lit caffeine sanctuary only to find it confusing. The usual Espresso blended beverages screamed at me, except a peek at Brazil’s coffee beans were infront of me. I had to literally find where my third wave coffee was going to be. I had to purchase my coffee in the same way as I would do with usual Latte. My coworker suggested I get the Brazilian Bourbon Rio Verde, as I was always looking for something chocolate tones and full-bodied. He got the Zambia coffee, which smelled absolutely fruity – apple and cinnamon flared. The other variant Kona was unavailable at that time. They say it is one of the bestsellers.

Starbucks Reserve

We were led to the entire drip coffee style process as I watched our Starbucks Barista turned into a walking encyclopedia of coffee connoisseur-ity. I felt like I was given a history lesson. Yes, my Brazilian coffee was from Bourbon varietal of Arabica coffee beans, a pure breed whose feat is about to become extinct. Mental images of Todd Carmichael trying to scour the hills of Uganda for the most exquisite coffee he could find for Dean and Deluca flashed in my mind. Surely this might be quite a cup.

It was. Except I really saw flaws. I’m only human. My friendly barista offered me some milk and sugar on the side. Hmm. I don’t intend on commenting about that, but I’m pretty sure, reading this would make you have some insights already.

I could only sigh at the fact that Starbucks had a better foot forward had they done it differently.

Housing two different brands in one brick and mortar creates confusion. The Third Wave popup store becomes recluse and isolated. And while the place has been renovated to produce an artisanal workspace for artists, hippies and craftsmen, it was still pretty much Starbucks.

Serving Specialty Coffee in Tall, Grande and Venti sizes is a different story. Customers would love Frappuccino blended beverages in either of these servings because they were meant for you to engorge on them and happily drink it calories. My first impression of Starbucks Reserve’s coffee selection was meant to be concentrated, rare and thus need not have such a large serving. It was too strong for a cup, and I couldn’t even finish my Tall Brazilian coffee. If it was indeed rare, it would be a customer’s delight to enjoy a small cup and drink it in precious sips.

Starbucks Reserve

Starbucks Reserve

Maybe it was still pretty good coffee to enjoy at a place we normally enjoyed to hang out. But, it didn’t feel like Third Wave at all. I’m pretty sure the market by this time, already know the difference between Third Wave and Second Wave.


Taste and Originality:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)
Customer Experience:2 out of 5 stars (2.0 / 5)
Value for Money:2 out of 5 stars (2.0 / 5)
Brick and Mortar:1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)
Average:2.1 out of 5 stars (2.1 / 5)