April 18, 2013 by Beans Ahoy
Recent Guatemalan has been defined by its very dry mouth feel. I have heard some describe it as almost slightly prickly on the tongue and roof of mouth, as if there is a sandy texture to the liquid. It is certainly an interesting coffee, and one of the clearest indicators of this trait is the Harris+Hoole espresso (read about it here: https://beansahoy.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/harrishoole-a-review/).
That brings me to the Starbucks Guatemalan. Now, before I even tasted it I knew it was going to be over roasted. Starbucks just does that to their coffee, so I wasn’t expecting any great change from their normal habits. What I was greeted with was over roasted, but not unpleasantly so. I can easily say before I go any further that this is better than their standard blended charcoal, but other things that rank better than Starbucks’ standard brew include liquid creosote, hydrochloric acid and herpes, in my very humblest opinion of course, and not that it’s worse than any other coffee from the big chains. (read a review about a comparison of the big chains here: https://beansahoy.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/the-battle-of-the-big-boys/).
Approaching the Starbucks Guatemala through this lens was probably a good idea, but like I said, the coffee was not all terrible. I was correct about the roasting, but it still had a little of that Guatemalan dryness to it with a sweet hint of the sugars and a slight nutty walnut aroma. The taste was much the same with a very slight sweetness coming through in the form of darker fruits such as raisin or prune.
It exhibited many of the characteristics of a Starbucks roast, but I heard a very good description of over roasted coffee the other day. It was that whilst over roasted coffee has a stronger flavour, it actually has less flavours. When you over roast a bean you loose the complexity of the flavours and instead convert all of them to one simple flavour which is overwhelmingly that of charcoal.
Overall however, not a bad coffee given that it was Starbucks. It is certainly worth changing from their standard bean to give this a try. I must warn however, that I did not try this in a cappuccino and could not therefore offer an opinion as to whether this coffee works in a milk based drink.
I have noticed one peculiarity that I really must point out however. While reading the Starbucks website (http://starbucks.co.uk/coffee/medium/guatemala-antigua) I came across a section that said what the coffee should be enjoyed with, and I am not joking, but it said it should be enjoyed with: “A Belgian chocolate cornflake square beneath a flowering bougainvillea”…really? So not only are Starbucks now suggesting what coffee to drink, but also where to drink it? If this is the case can I suggest a catch line for their next coffee which should tell people that it should be enjoyed with: “A blueberry tart whilst up a tree in the company of a shoe”. Really Starbucks, this is going too far, I feel as if I have followed a rabbit down a hole and landed up in the twilight zone. Utterly mad.
Typical dry sharpness to the coffee, but too strong an aroma and taste of charcoal caused by the over roasting. There is sweetness to the cup with a hint of walnut aroma. Taste exhibits some of the characteristics of a Guatemalan coffee, but the sugars are over caramelised. The sweetness is of darker fruits like raisins and prunes. 5.5/10.0