Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Starbucks (Downtown Bellevue)

This morning I was desperate to get caffeine in my veins. I had a doctor's appointment and had to fast last night and this morning. As a result, I skipped my morning coffee. You know when you are an addict when you could give a rat's ass about the food and only think of missing out on the coffee. As I was sitting in the doctor's office getting jammed with needles, I remembered that Starbucks has a Clover machine in their downtown Bellevue.

As soon as the sadists with the needles were done with me, I navigated my way through the side streets of Bellevue so I could avoid the parking lot known as the 405. I waited my turn in line at the store and got the standard welcoming smiles from all of the cheerleaders, oh I mean baristas. As I had neither coffee nor food in my belly, I didn't smile back. I'm a grumpy ass before my coffee. Since I really felt grumpy this morning, when the barista asked what size I'd like, I responded "large" knowing full well that they love to say grande.

Their Clover coffee of the day was an Ethopian Sidamo. I bought some Ethopian Sidamo beans from Zoka a while back, so I figured it would be a perfect coffee to try out. The beans were sitting out on the counter and were marked 1/10/09. The beans were only a few days old, so at least the beans should be fresh. The other thing I noted about the beans was that they didn't appear oily on the surface, like most of their beans. They obviously didn't roast the piss of them. Things are looking up.

Of course, the coffee was served in a paper cup. It's kind of a bummer, but the store was filled with a bunch of mochafrappacappucino types anyways, so there wasn't an open seat in the place. The coffee had a nice aroma and if I didn't have a wicked sinus infection I probably could have detected some characteristics of the aroma, but the only thing I could tell was that it wasn't the typical charred aroma of their standard coffee. The Clover coffee was good. As much as I hate to admit it, I must be honest. It was a really good cup of coffee. The main difference that I've noticed about the Clover coffee is that it is really smooth and doesn't have the thick mouthfeel of French press coffee. It wasn't too strong and was extracted properly. It wasn't quite as good as the Ethopian made at Intelligentsia, but it was pretty close. The big difference in taste compared to the coffee I made from the Zoka Sidamo beans was that the Starbucks beans were more deeply roasted. Zoka's roast was very light. As a result, the coffee had a blueberry aroma to it and tasted more raw. If there is one thing that I'd recommend to Starbucks is to roast their beans for the Clover a little more lightly to get some of the inherent qualities of the beans to come out.

For a massive company like Starbucks to be able to have 4 day old beans in selected stores must be quite a logistical feat for this large company. If you've ever worked for a large company, you'd appreciate the effort in doing something radically different from standard operating procedure.

At this point, Starbucks has Clover locations in Seattle (of course), Portland, San Francisco, and Boston. I was a little shocked that Chicago and especially NYC got dissed, but who knows what the future will hold? If you live in one of those cities, you should give Starbucks Clover Coffee a try. IMHO, its the only worthwhile thing that they offer.

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