The Olive Way Starbucks in Seattle held a dynamic coffee tasting this evening:  It was another world-class event.  The three coffees featured at this event were Starbucks Ethiopia Harrar, Aged Sumatra Lot 593, and Guatemala Antigua Santa Catalina.  The food pairings included the Starbucks “elevated food menu” offerings of New York Cheesecake, Brown Butter Apple Tart, and Artisan Focaccia.   The additional dessert and food offerings used at this event are exclusive to the Starbucks “beer and wine” stores. So allow me to back up just a moment.  The food at today’s event included the raisins that are normally provided with the Starbucks oatmeal; the New York Cheesecake; the artisan focaccia bread with olive oil; and the Starbucks Brown Butter Apple Tart.

In case you haven’t seen the elevated food menu, here’s a photo of the list menuboard showing this store’s unique treats:


As I already mentioned, Anton’s coffee tasting was absolutely wonderful.  One thing that I didn’t know that I learned this evening is that the Reserve coffee packaging is hand assembled.  In other words, all the stickers on the exterior are placed on the packaging by hand, and not by a machine.  Here’s the coffee tasting getting started, and a few additional photos of the tasting underway:

** Guatemala Antigua Santa Catalina**

The first coffee that we tried was the Guatemala Antigua Santa Catalina.  It is wash-processed, and a medium roast and body coffee.  The aroma definitely did have a lot of the characteristic praline and bittersweet chocolates.  This coffee had a wonderful round body, was smooth, and finished off the palate quickly.  This was a delicious coffee.  I definitely liked it.  Seems like it would be perfect breakfast time coffee.  We paired this with the Brown Butter Apple Tart.  The pairing was delicious, though it really made me hungry for more apple tart.  Here’s what our plate of food pairing samples looked like:

Here’s the focaccia bread, which was intended to pair with the Aged Sumatra, though I was so enjoying all the other pairings, that I didn’t do that one:

When the coffee tasting event was over, I bought an Brown Butter Apple Tart because it was so good.  Here’s what that looks like if you order it for here (I threw in a photo of the store’s unique pastry case display too):

This pairing was delicious, and it seemed like everyone in the group (about 8 people attended this coffee tasting) enjoyed the Guatemala coffee.

** Sun-Dried Ethiopia Harrar**

The Sun-Dried Ethiopia Harrar has a tremendous blueberry aroma.  Anton (the coffeemaster conducting this tasting) passed around the bag of beans so we all could get a big sniff of the aroma, and then he grabbed the store’s aroma kit to help everyone really decipher and learn about the aroma of the Sun Dried Ethiopia Harrar.  The Harrar is a natural-natural processed coffee, which means that the farmers lay the coffee cherries out on tarps to dry in the sunshine.  This results in the coffee bean taking on many of the berry characteristics of the cherry.  In contrast, in the “wash-processed” method of processing coffee, the coffee cherries are placed into very large vats of water which is used to wash the cherry off of the bean.  This “sun-dried” or “natural” method of processing coffee is the most difficult and temperamental:  The cherries may easily turn rancid in the sunshine, and/or even a spike in humidity or a dramatic change in weather may disrupt the delicate process, and cause the coffee cherries to spoil.

The Sun-Dried Harrar was paired with the raisins used in Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal.  This was an incredible pairing.  I would never have thought that something so simple could make a coffee alive, but the raisins are extremely sweet, and the sugary flavors make the berry notes of the coffee just pop.  This is a must-try food pairing.  I loved the Harrar.


** Aged Sumatra Lot 593**

The last pairing was the cheesecake with Aged Sumatra.  First off, we all smelled the Sumatra, and most everyone could smell a good deal of earthy and spices notes.  Sumatra coffee is processed with a semi-washed processing method, and then it is aged in warehouses in Singapore for three to five years to create the distinctive flavors of an aged coffee.

When this blog was fairly new in 2009, I wrote a detailed article about Sumatra and aging coffee, and I still highly recommend it for more information on semi-washed coffee processing:

The Magic of Sumatra and Aged Sumatra Coffee

That previous Sumatra is fairly long, and dense but I think it is worth it to read through.  I included one photo of Starbucks unroasted green (unaged) Sumatra beans side by side with unroasted aged Sumatra coffee beans.

One person in our coffee tasting group strongly picked up on the flavors roasted sesame seeds  in this coffee.  I thought that was a great description, and I can imagine that the savory flavors of roasted nuts or seeds would also pair well with this coffee.  The Sumatra coffee was quite popular, but a few people in the group thought it was too bold for their preferences.

 This coffee has a very big mouth feel that lingers for a long time on the palate.  The rich and thick texture of the cheesecake went perfectly with the lingering flavor of the Aged Sumatra.  I had thought that perhaps the cheesecake would be too sweet for the Aged Sumatra but that definitely was not the case.  They both had so much texture to them that neither one overpowered the other in the mouth.  It’s difficult to describe.  So I just have to say that you should try this!


I hope you enjoyed this coffee tasting.  At a minimum, I hope it gave you some ideas of things you might want to try with coffee.  At the Olive Way Starbucks, coffee events are once every two weeks, on Monday nights.  The address is 1600 East Olive Way in Seattle, Washington.  The store’s phone number is (206) 568 – 5185.

If you missed it previously, I highly recommend that you go back and take a look at the Anniversary Blend coffee tasting paired with butter, also an Olive Way event.