Appreciating coffee more: Starbucks Coffee Perfection 2013

Made my way to Starbucks Philippines‘ office at Urban Building for a different kind of event.

The cool sign that welcomed me that Saturday morning

The cool sign that welcomed me that Saturday morning

I have no idea why I failed to take a photo of their reception area, which was cool with the signature Starbucks chairs and round tables, and ambient music to boot.

Anyways, after a few moments, the attendees made their way to their tables, and we were introduced to Starbucks Coffee Perfection.

From the looks of things, I knew this was going to be something different.

From the looks of things, I knew this was going to be something unique.

To define it succinctly, the event was meant to educate us in the journey of the coffee from bean to cup, so that we may come to appreciate the drink more.

Kareena of the Marketing Team, explaining the journey of the coffee and the people behind the process.

Kareena of the Marketing Team, explaining the journey of the coffee and the people behind the process.

Dwight, Starbucks Coffee Ambassador, teaching the attendees what to look for in a perfect coffee cup.

Dwight, Starbucks Coffee Ambassador, teaching the attendees what to look for in a perfect coffee cup.

I must admit that before, when I drink coffee, I would only think about its temperature, and how much cream and sugar I should put. I didn’t think of pairing it with food — and not just any food, but one that would complement or bring out its flavor. It was always “3-in-one and pan de sal”. But I slowly learned that certain coffee (yes, there are lots of kinds of coffee in the world) can be paired with a particular food item, thanks to the past events that I’ve attended wherein Starbucks had short coffee tasting activities.

That day, however, was different. Whereas before they paired their blends with items on their menu (usually pastries or breads), the guys at Starbucks paired a variety of coffee drinks with a 5-course meal from Tapella.

Sir Raymond, restaurant manager of Tapella, telling us the food we're about to enjoy that day.

Sir Raymond, restaurant manager of Tapella, telling us the food we’re about to enjoy that day.

Reading through the menu, I knew this would be a fun food-filled day.

Reading through the menu, I knew this would be a fun food-filled day.

Bruschetta on tomato salad with goat cheese and herb; chorizo spread with manchego cheese; and Starbucks Tribute Blend.

Bruschetta on tomato salad with goat cheese and herb; chorizo spread with manchego cheese; and Starbucks Tribute Blend.

The appetizers were slices of baguette, one with chorizo spread and manchego cheese; the other with tomato salad and goat cheese. What’s nice is that the Tribute Blend coffee balances out all the flavors inside the tongue.

Grilled mixed peppers tower of salad; cold tomato soup with vegetables; and Starbucks Asian Dolce Latte.

Grilled mixed peppers tower of salad; cold tomato soup with vegetables; and Starbucks Asian Dolce Latte.

That tower of peppers looked so good that it was hard to eat it. Hehe! Anyways, these were paired with the Asian Dolce Latte, Starbucks’ newest drink that will be in the market beginning March 5. It’s basically double shots of espresso poured on freshly steamed milk mixed with sweet dolce sauce, and topped with velvety foam. Together in the palate, the sweetness of the drink complemented the cool, grassy taste of both the soup and salad.

Main Course No. 1: Cod fish cooked the Viscaina Way and Paella.

Main Course No. 1: Cod fish cooked the Viscaina Way and Paella.

Main Course No. 2: Moorish chicken drizzled with almond sauce, on couscous. Both meals served with Starbucks Colombia Blend.

Main Course No. 2: Moorish chicken drizzled with almond sauce, on couscous. Both meals served with Starbucks Colombia Blend.

Let me just say that Tapella’s Paella Manchego is awesome (okay, second to my mom’s paella. Love your own, hahaha!). I got to eat both the fish + paella and chicken + couscous with the Colombia. What’s interesting about this is that it seemed that the coffee complemented the tastes of both food, to a point wherein it felt like it washed my palate clean, making me ready for another spoonful (if my tummy could take it).

I noticed, though, that both viands were white meat. I wonder what the effect of the Colombia would be if the viands were made of red meat. I should’ve asked that question, dang.

Creme Brulee and Mille Crepe. Was paired with Starbucks Espresso Shot.

Creme Brulee and Mille Crepe. Was paired with Starbucks Espresso Shot.

My tummy had to make way for dessert. This pairing’s pretty much obvious: the caramelly/ nutty taste of the espresso is a perfect complement to the sweetness of the crepe and creme brulee. Drinking the espresso was a weird experience for me, because we were told to consume it immediately after extraction so that we could taste the “good shot” of espresso. As Dwight pointed out, a good shot has 3 parts: the heart (the dark bottom), the body (the middle part), and the foam (which I learned was called “crema”). When these parts blend into one black liquid, this shot of espresso would become a “bad shot”, usually characterized by its bitter taste (and I thought espresso was intended to be bitter). Now I know.

The first 10 seconds after extraction are crucial -- there you will taste the perfect caramelly and nutty taste of the espresso. And that's why it's ideal to drink it right upon serving.

The first 10 seconds after extraction are crucial — there you will taste the perfect caramelly and nutty taste of the espresso. And that’s why it’s ideal to drink it right upon serving.

I kinda burnt the front of my tongue drinking the espresso, by the way. Good thing it was the last of the items to have that lunch (I was full since the salad).

Hello, smorgasbord of delights!

Hello, smorgasbord of delights!

Yup, new food items will be introduced in stores as well, along with the Asian Dolce Latte. These include the new Finger Sandwiches: Forest Ham and Monterey Jack Cheese on Brioche Loaf Bread, Cheesy Egg and Bacon Salad on Simple Bread, and Salmon and Capers on Parmesan Bread; Crabstick Salad on French Butter Croissant; Kung Pao Chicken Wrap; Chocolate Hazelnut Eclair; and Dark Chocolate Turtle Cake.

The Asian Dolce Latte, a drink inspired by how coffee is drank in many parts of Asia.

The Asian Dolce Latte, a drink inspired by how coffee is drank in many parts of Asia.

By the way, as a tip, do NOT mix the Asian Dolce Latte before drinking. It’s actually a nice experience sipping it as it is, since you can taste the nutty espresso while feeling the sweet milk making its way to your tongue (consuming it entails the same technique as drinking Akiba’s Trifle Tea or even the Gong Cha Milk Wintermelon Tea — do not shake nor stir). To capture Asian Dolce Latte’s full flavor, drink it straight from the cup, without a straw.

By the end of the day’s activity, I’m glad to have learned a lot about coffee, how drinking it can be an experience beyond ordinary, and how Starbucks helps you take your journey with your cup of coffee to another level — the way you want it.

Once again, thank you, Starbucks Philippines for organizing this one-of-a-kind event. 🙂

No Comments

Leave a Reply