New Starbucks Reserve coffees: Maui Mokka and Guatemala Antigua Finca Medina

Starbucks is now offering two new amazing Reserve coffees: Guatemala Antigua Finca Medina and the Maui Mokka coffee.  I went to a coffee seminar last Monday (January 7, 2013) and had the chance to try these new two offerings, and pair them with food.

At the Olive Way Starbucks, Coffee Master Donna, and Coffee-Master-In-Training Danielle lead the seminar.  It was a small group, and we had a great time trying the new coffees.  I was totally impressed with the new Maui Mokka.  It’s a very unique coffee!

First, we tried the Guatemala Antigua Finca Medina:

This is a wash-processed coffee, and is grown on about 10 hectares in Guatemala.  A “wash-processed” coffee is one where the layers of the soft cherry  is removed from the actual coffee bean with both running water and an immersion into water.  That’s an over simplified explanation, but I mention it because the process method affects the flavor profile of the coffees.  A washed bean often will have bright, clean flavors, and some acidity to them.

This coffee’s beans have an aroma of dark chocolate.  It has a pretty big body for a washed, Latin American coffee.  The Guatemala was paired with the Berry Medley Chocolate Bites.  We (meaning the group in attendance for the tasting) agreed that the blueberry chocolate bites were the best with this coffee.  Definitely a nice delicious coffee for someone looking for a very flavorful medium-body coffee.  The flavor profile is a bit tart, and has berry and dark chocolate notes.

The second coffee we tried was the new Maui Mokka Reserve.

This was an exciting coffee to try!  I had no idea what to expect, so I was really surprised at how very bold, dark, and complex this coffee is.  As I understand it, the coffee trees are harvested on land that was once a sugar plantation on Maui, and this coffee is processed with a natural processing method.  When one talks about the “natural processing” method, usually one pictures the coffee cherries laid out on tarps, drying in the sunshine.  Again, this is an over simplified explanation.  The natural (or sometimes called the “sun-dried” method) was developed in coffee growing regions with scarce rainfall, such as Ethiopia.  After drying on a tarp, once the cherries reach the right level of moisture, the soft layers of cherry are removed from the bean with a hulling machine.  This process method is known to create extremely flavorful coffee beans because the beans absorb flavor notes from the cherries due to the drying method.

What is remarkable about the Maui Mokka beans is that rather than the ripe coffee cherries drying on tarps, the cherries are not picked from the trees until they are already very dry.  I have to be honest, I am surprised by this.  And I am not sure even know that I understand it.  I completely understand the concept of ripe cherries being picked, and then thrown in streams of water to remove the cherry from the coffee.  And I understand, letting ripe cherries get very dry and then using a hulling machine to remove the soft cherry from the bean.  But I had never heard of coffee cherries being picked when they’ve reached a point beyond ripe, and they’re already so dry that they can be manually hulled with a machine.  If anyone has more information on this, I welcome it.

The Maui Mokka paired beautifully with the reduced fat cinnamon swirl coffee cake.  The coffee has some spice notes to it, and one can taste a very slight roastiness to it.  This appears to be one of the darker Reserve coffee offerings.  It’s hard to describe this flavor.  It seemed to have red wine-like flavor notes to it, in my tasting of it.  The coffee masters at Olive Way described it as “chocolate mouth feel” and “brown spice.”  I think it may be all of those things!

One more very remarkable this about this coffee is the size of the coffee beans.  They are very tiny coffee beans!  In fact, they’re sort of cute!  I tried to get a good photo showing off the Maui Mokka beans compared side-by-side with the Guatemala.  If you get a chance to get to a Clover store to try this coffee, you really should.  It’s one to experience.  Here are the two coffee beans:

I’ll end with a few more photos from this coffee seminar.  Be sure to click onto the pictures to make them larger:

Related Posts


  • Jacquith Porter

    I am so excited for this new Guatemala reserve coffee! I just ordered some yesterday to do a tasting at my store as part of my Coffee Master Training! We are going to do a Guatemala Antigua region seminar comparing the three coffees available right now (Guatemala Antigua, Casi Celo and the Finca Medina). I love when you post about the tastings you go to, it gives me such great ideas for pairings at my store!

  • jocelyn

    i’m going to a reserve store next week and can’t wait to pick up the maui! it sounds incredible!

    a little bit off topic..
    Melody, do you watch the show on the travel channel called “dangerous grounds”? i think you would really like it! the host (who used to work for starbucks) is sort of the indiana jones of coffee. anyways, i have purchased just about every coffee from every episode, including a “high grade” robusta from him (tastes like burnt popcorn, but this may be the future of coffee, who knows). it is really amazing and inspiring to see where these coffees come from – a true bean to cup experience!

  • Chgo.

    @Melody – You’re so lucky to get these opportunities. Rarely…. I can coax a partner in the wee hours of the morning to make a sample of the new Reserves before they are available to customers. Maybe I am in the wrong, but I don’t understand why they sample it between themselves and never the customers. Sure with a little arm twisting I might get lucky, but what about the other customers? That is the one thing I don’t like. For the price of some of the Reserves, it would be nice to know what you’re in for before buying something you might not like. So many partners at the store I go to say they aren’t coffee drinkers, so I’m not crazy about their opinion of the coffee.

    I was really looking forward to trying the GAFM, but after reading your review, I am somewhat looking forward to trying both. I’m also glad that the Casi Cielo is also back.

  • Melody

    @Chgo – You make a valid point. I have noticed this several times when partners are doing coffee tastings for themselves – which of course they need to do so, but inviting customers into it doesn’t happen very often anymore. And I’ve sat near coffee “tastings” where it was two partners and a press, and it was obvious in listening to them, that neither really knew a whole lot about coffee.

    But to your point, I remember one time I was visiting the Terry & Republican Starbucks, and a small group (like 4) partners decided to try a new Reserve. This was quite a while ago, and I don’t even recall what it was. I was sitting extremely close by because there’s seating right up against the espresso area. A partner who recognized me, invited me to join in. It’s super easy to make enough coffee for a coffee tasting when you’ve got a Clover. And I got the sense I was invited in because I was recognized – and that’s happened to me a couple of times.

    That whole experience of having a partner make a press (or Clover-brewed) coffee and walking around the lobby of the cafe with sample cups is just incredibly rare compared to many years and years ago. Even right here in Seattle. And as far as I can see, Olive Way has the most consistent and world-class coffee events in Seattle. I know one store that’s trying to get their own coffee tastings going on Friday afternoons. But these Olive Way seminars are in a class by themselves.

    I have rambled too much. Part of the problem is that partners get frustrated that they walk around with sample cups, and customers turn it down because they only want their Venti half-caf toffee nut latte. And then the other part of the problem is that there are plenty of partners who just don’t care about actual coffee. There are times in downtown Seattle I will say to a partner, “hey you should join us at Olive Way every other Monday night at 6 pm,” and I get complete disinterest.

    So yes, you make a very valid point, and right now, Olive Way is in a class by itself, and there is no competition in the other stores.

    The only other consistent tastings that I know of are Monday mornings at Roy Street, but I need to double check if those are still going on. I never attend since it’s in the middle of the work day.

  • Chgo.

    I subtly brought it up while I was waiting at the Clover for my coffee today. There are clearly other customers waiting for their Clover made coffee and other drinks at that end, because the Clover is on the the pickup side. (It’s the store you visited). They wouldn’t have to walk around the store with sample cups. There is usually 10 people at a time waiting at that end. How hard would it be to make enough, to ask people while they are waiting if they would like to sample some, especially the regular Clover Customer like myself? They would never have to leave the Clover area to sample some out. The excuse was that they don’t know yet what settings to use on the Clover. I’m not sure I believe that, but it’s possible. Maybe it just drives me crazy to see it out displayed 4 or five days before they could sell it to us. If you can’t sell it, hide it away until Tuesday. I don’t get angry about it, but for cryin out load, it’s like dangling a candy in front of a child who can’t have it – LOL!

  • Melody

    @Chgo – As to the new coffees that haven’t come out, there is something to the settings issue. But I was referring more generally to any of the Reserve coffee offerings. Apparently, it’s possible to get a really bad cup of coffee if the Reserve is brewed incorrectly on the clover, and each coffee is programmed individually. For this coffee tasting that I wrote about, the partners made French presses because they Clover settings weren’t dialed in yet.

  • Melody

    @Chgo-What is happening on the blog is indeed a very tiny tiny slice of what happens in the stores. I totally appreciate your comments, and Jocelyn’s and Jacquith’s. Notice that the Starbucks to introduce the Vanilla Spice Latte thread has 64 comments. It’s rare that coffee tasting threads get over 20 comments. (a few do). The point being only, while there are a lot of us who love coffee, there are a LOT more who are in it for the Vanilla Spice Latte experience. That’s fine in the sense that there’s something for everyone.

  • Chgo.

    I know that it is possible the settings could be an issue until the day it comes out. I could also tell from your pic’s that your sampling was done on a French Press. From past experience though, the few times I have sampled a New Reserve early, it was always done on the Clover. So I just assumed that they know the settings in advance. I was just wondering if that was an excuse not to make some. I would gladly take some off a French Press. Would you agree that maybe it shouldn’t be displayed until the day it comes out? I can see where sometimes putting it out behind the counter is the only space available to put it, but it seems like a tease. I actually went to coffee twice today at 2 different stores. The first store had plenty of Casi Cielo visibly out in front of customers. Perhaps I have just gotten spoiled.

  • jocelyn

    i was very happy to get called in to work this morning because i knew casi cielo came in our order on saturday. i enjoyed a french press of it this morning and it is glorious.

    we are fortunate to have a lot of customers that totally geek out over coffee. it’s perfect for me because then i don’t feel so alone!!! when we were a reserve store (they removed it since we are not a clover store – closest one is over 200 miles away) i would always french press and sample for our customers. it is the only way to truly sell the coffee! i wish they would allow us to be a reserve store once again, as we continuously would sell out on launch day.

    i do wish more stores would do coffee seminars like the ones put on at olive way. i was pretty upset that my trip to seattle didn’t coincide with one, but that’s ok. my partners and i are putting together a turkish coffee night. melody, i’ll be sure to send you pictures because it is going to be epic!!! :)

  • Jim

    The closest Starbucks to me that has a Clover is 25 miles away, so I very, very rarely even have the chance to try any of these coffees. Out of all the hundreds and hundreds of stores in Chicago and the greater Chicagoland area, only 23 have a Clover machine (I just checked, that’s what the Starbucks website turned up). I’m pretty sure these sorts of specialty coffees are a really tiny part of Starbuck’s business and emphasis…probably why you don’t get a lot of discussion on the subject. Not many people are exposed to it!

    I was at that one store last weekend, and tried a sun-dried Sumatran coffee…wow was it good. Amazing. At $4.55 for a Grande, definitely not an everyday cup of coffee, but it was worth the experience. The store employee who ran the Clover was excited that someone had ordered it, I gathered it was a fairly rare event.

  • Chgo.

    @Jim – If you don’t mind me asking, where are you located? What store did you visit?

  • Jim

    @Chgo Northern McHenry County Illinois, I can see Wisconsin from my house (aka, I live in the boonies). Nearest Clover-containing Starbucks is in Crystal Lake, IL. I’m more regularly in the McHenry, IL location (small, but the baristas are all pretty good), or Lake Geneva, WI.

  • Chgo.

    @Jim – Maybe you will get lucky soon. Clovers are starting to pop up everywhere. It wasn’t long ago that there were too few, or there weren’t any here in the City. The Sun Dried Sumatra Rasuna is also one of my faves on the Clover. There are so many good choices for Reserve Coffee out there and coming. If you get the chance (while supplies last), try the Sun Dried Ethiopia Sidamo on the Clover. I think it’s about a dollar cheaper for a grande, but even though the descriptions of each are different, I personally believe they taste very similar. Of course that is just my opinion.

  • Jacquith Porter

    @Jocelyn We used to be a reserve store as well, until the clover came out :( We are starting to do an event called Coffee Tasting Tuesdays where the Coffee Master and myself(coffee master in training) are holding small seminars and tastings on coffees and the different aspects of coffee that are part of my program. We are currently designing a coffee of love seminar for February!
    I also wish we could be come a reserve store again, as the closest reserve store is in the next state, and the closest clover store is in Boston which is over 200 miles away as well.(Joys of being the most northeastern starbucks in the country.) I end up ordering the reserve coffees online as soon as I see Melody write about them so we the partners can try them. It makes it difficult to share these coffees with customers, as we do not have them in the store.

  • Kurt

    One could always ask the partners tasting while ignoring the customers if they were “tasting anything good over there?” I would think many would be happy to share. Also I am under the impression the Reserve settings are beamed to the store at some point. A Clover store here in Colorado had the settings for the Costa Rica Finca Palmilera in their machine. They were very happy to brew up a sample with beans I had smuggled in from Portland. (For the geeks it worked well on the Clover, even at Mile High altitude. It did not do well in a French Press with a grind of 9. A bit sour. But switching to a grind of 8 improved it considerably.)

    Was the slight roastiness more or less than the Oahu, Melody? The Oahu came across as too roasty in my recollection.

  • tareq a

    I wish there were more CLOVER Starbucks in the UK?

    Theres only the one in Vigo St, near Regent St

  • Jess

    @Jacquith and @Jocelyn– I’m one of the CMs at Olive Way. Feel free to reach out to us if you have questions about planning seminars. In truth, Melody has done a great job documenting our last year in coffee knowledge, but there is a lot of work we do on the front end. I am certainly a resource available to you! Store #3281. We also have a facebook page: Good luck!

  • Emanuel Levy

    Living on the East Coast zip code 07728 the nearest store with a Clover to me is Shrewsbury NJ. I enjoy trying new coffees but wish Starbucks would make it easier with closer stores that carried Reserve. I know you don’t work for Starbucks but I do know that some people from Starbucks do read your blog and hopefully they will expand their reserve stores in NJ

  • Courtney B

    Just paired the Guatemala Finca Medina with the new berry coffee cake – it was AMAZING!

  • Jessica Bridges

    Wait, this is news to me. Do ALL Clover stores now carry the Reserve coffees?
    I was a partner in Chicago a few years ago and was spoiled to try all the Black Apron/Reserve coffees when they came out.

    Now I live in Kansas (no longer a Barista), and all of the stores here stopped carrying Reserve coffees a couple years ago – the few that stocked them in the first place. So, I started buying them online to brew at home. The Ethiopian Sun-Dried Sidamo has long been my favorite coffee to drink.

    I stumbled across this blog and am curious about the Clover/Reserve connection. There is only one Starbucks in Kansas City (ONE!) with a Clover machine and I haven’t been interested enough to try it yet. If Clover stores also have Reserve coffees I will definitely be a new permanent fixture in that store!

  • Jessica Bridges

    Just went to the Clover store today and got the Ethiopian Sidamo. Yum! So happy to find out about this. :)

  • Organic Fair Trade Dave

    It’s my understanding that Clover stores are the only stores to carry Reserve Coffees. You can always order Reserve Coffees from though your Clover store might have coffees in stock that the online store does not.

  • Jessica Bridges

    Kansas didn’t have any stores carrying Reserve coffees (since 2009, I think). I didn’t realize the addition of the Clover machine would include Reserve coffees being reintroduced to some markets. I’m glad that I can get these beans at the store now instead of ordering them online.

  • denise r

    @Jessica: used to live in Johnson County, altho native Chicagoan. Just wondering: is the Clover store in KC on the Plaza? LOVED that place soooo much. (pre Sbux expanding beyond Seattle!)

  • Jessica Bridges

    Yep, the Clover store in KC is the one on the Plaza. The Sbux on 119th in JoCo used to carry Reserves/BlackApron before Sbux re-organized their store sizes and took them out.

    Last I checked, though, Plaza is the only location with Clover.

Leave a Comment


Join the mailing list to receive a weekly email with new posts: