Starbucks Reserve experience

Talk about your favorite cafes, local barista events, or plan your own get-together.
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#1: Post by nixter »

I live in Vancouver and we've had an SBR for a number of years now. To be honest, I didn't even realize it was a "reserve", I just thought it was a big, expensively appointed, Starbucks. So walking home through downtown the other day, I was craving a shot as I'd been running errands all day and was getting tired, (20,000+ steps, thank you Fitbit). All the good cafes I could think of that were en route were already closed. By luck, we just happened to walk in the direction of the SBR, so I figured it would have to do. I was mainly looking for the energy boost anyways. After some fumbling around trying to figure out where I'm meant to order from, I order a double of their "Microblend 21" Well HOOO-LEEEE DOODLE!! I was floored! This was one of the top 10 best shots I've experienced In a cafe, and Vancouver has some decent cafes. I also spend plenty of time in Seattle and have sampled many of their best a well. Needless to say, I'm very glad to have finally discovered this gem that's been hiding under my nose for years!


#2: Post by Monsterzero »

Wow, that's really interesting. I'm going to have to see if I can find a Starbucks reserve café, since my local Starbucks doesn't serve anything close to what I'd consider a good shot of espresso. Thanks for the info!


#3: Post by Auctor »

Assuming they use La Marzocco in the Reserve store, vs. the automatics they use in a traditional store?

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#4: Post by baristainzmking »

I stopped going to Starbucks the day they switched from La Marzocco to the automatic machines they are using now. It's been years! :D

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nixter (original poster)

#5: Post by nixter (original poster) »

They use proper machines in Reserve locations.

I went back today and had an Ethiopian from a Clover. I found it almost undrinkable. Not for me.


#6: Post by spopinski »

They use VA Black Eagle at many Reserve's location


#7: Post by Tj. »

This is one of those statements that I can not believe until I see it myself :D. Luckily there is one near me in SF. Seeing a modern semi-auto espresso machine inside a Starbucks alone will really turn my world upside down. I wonder what kind of experience the baristas have as it must be ran very different from their typical locations and Starbucks has the money to make it as great of an experience as they wish.

Seeing your followup experience, I may not take the trip today, hah.


#8: Post by cmin » replying to Tj. »

Reserve Roastery is like trying to compare McDonald's to say upscale chain like Mortons or Chops both food (coffee) and atmosphere (inside). Completely different from regular Starbucks. Been to the one in Washington and it was surprisingly great, everything from espresso to even syphon coffee (heck 95% of "real" shops pry don't even do syphon, rarely ever seen). Can even walk across street to Victrola after, or before lol, that's an excellent roaster as well.

Remember also, back in the day even regular Starbucks used LMZ machines and SJ grinders etc. My old SJ like 10 years ago actually was from being used in a Starbucks. Than they went full Superautos and nose dived in quality (not that they were too notch prior), but all that mattered at that point of scale is consistency like any large company, quality is a faaaaar 2nd, or 3rd, maybe even 5th at that point

Clover machines like OP found out are almost impossible to dial, there are (well were) a few high end shops that acquired some before Starbucks bought what was left. Even then they would still suck, I actually had only 1 great coffee from a clover, other times were borderline terrible. Most places got rid of them also as Starbucks is the only one with a bankroll $ for upkeep and repairibg those machines, stupid expensive.

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nixter (original poster)

#9: Post by nixter (original poster) »

Good to know i wasn't imagining things with the clover.


#10: Post by Tj. »

I went to the Starbucks Reserve in Danville, CA the other day. The cafe had that gorgeous VA and a couple Mythos grinders. The menu had an "espresso of the day" noting berries and caramel notes. The espresso I was served was actually worse than what I would expect from a typical Starbucks Mastrena. Ash water with no texture and the roast was so burnt it had no resemblance to coffee at all. I drink a wide range of coffee including dark roasts, even robusta blends too, so my palette is accustomed to dark bitter coffee but this was off the charts.

I imagine all it would take is a few hours of training to fix the shop. What a waste of machinery... Maybe I'll go to the SF location as surely this was just a problem with bad staff.