The Elusive Starbucks Reserve Micro Blend #11
There is one Starbucks Reserve coffee that is almost a myth, but not quite. It’s the Starbucks Reserve Micro Blend No. 11.
This is the coffee that one day in August, two years ago, Howard Schultz commented that it is “fantastic. It’s extraordinary.” This coffee was developed by Starbucks partner Leslie Wolford, who works in the headquarters coffee department. She, and other coffee team members, were exploring the idea of an exquisite Reserve blend. Leslie worked on a number of recipes of single origin coffees blended as a Reserve, and on her eleventh go of it, she paired Guatamala Antigua with a sun-dried Ethiopia, and lo and behold Micro Blend #11 was born. I believe this was some time in 2013,
The lore of Micro Blend #11 continues: apparently there was discussion of whether this blend should be sold in Reserve stores everywhere. The answer came down as “no.” The Starbucks Reserve stores are intended to put a spotlight on single origin coffees, not blends.
Eventually, a small amount of Micro Blend No. 11 ended up at Roy Street at one point. It found its way once in a while into one single store. Starbucks, meanwhile, pursued a few restaurants with the idea that they could serve Micro Blend No. 11 in their fine dining establishments. I’ve heard numerous people tell me that this coffee is offered in a tiny number of restaurants, but I’ve never gotten a straight answer as to where. One person told me California, another New York, and another told me a few restaurants in Seattle. Sadly, I don’t know what restaurants offer this. If you know, please tell me.
Of course, as everyone reading this knows, in December 2014, Starbucks moved their roasting operations for Reserve coffees to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. My understanding is that there are a few restaurants that do offer this coffee, and when they place an order for more of it, the Roastery will order plenty for the restaurant and an extra run of it to be sold at the Roastery. And this is how it ends up on the scoop bar at the Roastery.
I stopped by the morning and spoke with a Master Coffee Roaster: The burlap sacks for the component unroasted coffee beans were sitting near the roasting area. Look how pretty the Guatemala Antigua Finca Medina burlap bags are! I like the image of the horse and cart! The Ethiopian component is a sun-dried Ethiopia Sidamo coffee.
The two components are roasted masterfully together – making this by definition a pre-roast blend, not a post-roast blend – and you end up with Micro Blend No. 11.
Imagine drinking berry-jammy chocolate and you will know the joy of Micro Blend No. 11.
If you are visiting the Starbucks Roastery, you’ll find this coffee retails for $16 per half pound. Just a word about purchasing hand scooped coffee. If you buy coffee in flavorlock packaging, the only thing you need to worry about is using it up before the expiration date. Once you’ve opened up the flavorlock packaging, use your coffee within 7 days. For best results, always grind your coffee just before each time you’re making coffee.
When buying coffee that was literally just roasted and not in flavorlock packaging, you have a couple of things to think about. Under any circumstances, for best freshness results, use your coffee within 15 days from the date that it was roasted on.
There is an initial de-gassing period that a coffee goes through. Coffee that has literally just been roasted is a bit like a green banana – not all the flavor has developed. Starbucks says that this “de-gassing” period can last up to eight days. I know that I’ve heard a variety of time-frames as to what’s an ideal de-gassing period, just in my casual conversation with various people who know coffee. I’ve heard everything from four to eight days.
The upshot, is that if you have hand-scooped coffee not in flavorlock packaging, you need to make a mental note of that date it’s roasted and drink your coffee no sooner than four or fives days from the date of roasting (ideally) and under any circumstances, try to use it up by the 15th days (8 days of degassing plus 7 days for freshness).
Thank you for a great article as always! I remember our conversations about fresh roasted coffees when you were down here in San Diego for the new bistro boxes test. I learned about that degassing process from you! And I will never forget the special tastings I was privileged to do with some other partners down here last year of No. 11. Such a treat! If anyone has a chance to try this, do it! You will not be disappointed! I know I dream of this one quite often 🙂
Sounds so good, I bet chocolate covered strawberries would be a good pairing to try
I have had the pleasure have having this coffee twice. One was a gift to me from a partner at the SSC and the second a gift from Tiffany R who use to work there. as I understand the only places in the world that you drink this on Seattle New York and Paris. That from the gal who gave it to me who got it from someone in the tasting room. Hope this helps
-Keep Tasting- Zack SM
Micro blend 11 is my jam! (Because it tastes like jam!)
I wanted to try this one – maybe next time! It sounds amazing. I know the Roastery Subscriptions send a new single origin every month but why not include this one? Like they could send you a small sample just for signing up for the subscription as a “Welcome to the Roastery Subscription” club. Or they could send a small sample of Gravitas or Pantheon depending on what is available.
By Far….best coffee ever tasted!! Story is, A brilliant cup of coffee specially created for an Italian restaurant in New York, who were not pleased or considered offering Starbucks’ in their restaurant as according to them Starbucks’ coffee, lacked character.
Yay! I finally got to try this elusive coffee. And yes it is amazing. Very dark and robust full of chocolate and berry flavors. It has definitely become a favorite of mine but I am going to drink it sparingly because I don’t know when I might see it again! It does go very well with my double chocolate raspberry cookie that I make. I gotta give a big shout out to my Seattle friends for sending it all the way to Indiana!
Visited our daughter and son-in-law in September. They took us to the Roastery. I asked the roaster which coffee he recommended. He said No. 11. It is the best coffee I have ever tasted. I highly recommend it!
I just stumbled on this coffee at the 4 winds casino in new buffalo, mi. Smelled it at another table and knew I had to try it. Amazing
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
- DEVIN on Compostable Straws Land in Seattle Starbucks Stores
- coffeebeanz on Why do you go to Starbucks less often? (If that’s true for you)
- Willi on You can now buy a Siren statue: $6,000
- Willi on A major revamp of your drink recipe: Testing syrup extracts and cane sugar
- Skip on Why do you go to Starbucks less often? (If that’s true for you)
The Plumed Horse in Saratoga, CA.