Starbucks Christmas Reserve: Cliff recommends it as an espresso shot. Well, it’s all around amazing.

On November 7, 2016, we saw return of Starbucks Reserve Christmas Blend at the Starbucks Roastery. This is not the same Christmas Blend that is in Starbucks stores everywhere during Christmas. The Reserve Christmas Blend is a lighter roast profile (technically it is a blonde roast) using Aged Sumatra and Hacienda Alsacia coffee from Costa Rica.

In order to get ready to have enough Christmas Blend for the Roastery and select Starbucks stores across the nation, Starbucks begins roasting some of it in August. This would be the earliest runs of the coffee.

I dropped by the Roastery on August 7, 2016, and caught some Christmas Reserve coming out of the roaster, as roasted by Starbucks partner Casey:

Lucky me, the day before I saw the Aged Sumatra being loaded into the green coffee loading pit.
1 - 1 - 20160806_150719 loading aged sumatra into the green coffee loading pit - test run likely
When you look at Aged Sumatra up close, you can see it’s a light brown color even before it has been roasted. The green unroasted coffee turns to a brownish color from the process of aging the coffee. The unroasted coffee gets stored in warehouses in Singapore from five to seven years. It’s a magical process. The tropical winds blow through the warehouse and the coffee develops the unique characteristics of having been slowly aged: It gains a heavy, spicy, character, and it’s known for this warm, syrupy flavor note when fully roasted.
1 - 1 - 20160806_150927 - Aged Sumatra component of Christmas Reserve - Test run likely
And here’s the card for Starbucks Reserve Christmas 2016:
New Doc 177_1 Front of Reserve Card
New Doc 177_2 Inside Christmas Reserve card

Starbucks Reserve Christmas 2016 will be available in select Starbucks locations across the United States and Canada, beginning in early December.

This year’s Reserve Christmas is so amazing. As a shot of espresso, it’s super sweet and citrusy. I’ve had it iced from a Chemex and picked up really herbally notes! It’s a unique change of pace as an iced coffee. And of course, it’s beautiful just as a drip cup of coffee. You get the spiciness of aged Sumatra with beautiful citrus and sweet elements from the Costa Rica coffee.

On November 10, 2016, I dropped by the Roastery and ran into Cliff Burrows. We made small talk. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned how much he loved Christmas Reserve as a shot of espresso. He recommended that I walk down to the Experience Bar area of the Roastery and have it just as a solo shot of espresso.

After our five minutes of small talk, I found myself wandering down the stairs to the Experience Bar to have a solo shot of Christmas Reserve. I mean, if Cliff tells you, ‘Go drink a shot of espresso’ , what other choices do you have? You go drink the espresso.

I connected with partner Dru at the Roastery and told him that I had to order a shot of Christmas Reserve ‘just like Cliff’ did. And Dru said, ‘He was just down here. He had a solo shot – no sparkling water, no cookie. You want just the shot, no water, no cookie?’ I confirmed my order.

My only point to this long story is that Cliff nailed it. You need to try Christmas Reserve as an espresso.

Here’s what Christmas Reserve 2016 looks like:


Related Posts


  • Pasquette Benoît (coffee master in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France)

    Hello Melody. I would like to tell you that we got it as well in my store which is located in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines near Paris, France. Exceptionally of course.

  • Melody

    @Pasquette – Thank you for the comment – I should update the story to include that it went to select stores in Europe and the UK. You know, that makes total sense. When I was there for the very, very earliest runs of Christmas Blend, it makes sense that some of that was for international shipment. Starbucks will do that – given the travel time of shipping huge amount of coffee, it will get roasted and shipped first so that everything arrives in stores at the same time. International shipping of coffee requires more lead time. And it is so good this year! I got your pic! Glad you like it too!

  • Tyler Wilcox

    We tried this coffee as a shot of espresso today and all of our partners loved it! We also tried to do the Tim Tam Slam that Jócelyn posted on her Instagram.

  • Mike K

    Melody where did you get the information that this coffee has a blonde roast profile. I cannot find the information on our HUB and when I told a fellow partner they couldn’t believe that this would be listed as such. Thanks.

  • Melody

    @Mike K – I am sure it is a blonde. I’ve talked directly with the roasters who roasted it, and again double checked tonight after I saw your comment. I asked roaster Susan at the Roastery (where all of the Christmas Reserve was roasted) and she again said “it’s definitely on the blonde roast curve.” Funny, but I brought up your comment to the current SM of 1912 Pike Place (I happen to run into her) and she agreed – She could see it as a blonde because the Hacienda Alsacia component normally is roasted very lightly. It’s blonde.

  • Mike K

    Oh I definitely think you can even taste the blonde characteristics. I had a tasting with my RD and we didn’t agree on this so I thought I would get further verification…lol Thanks.

Leave a Comment


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