Starbucks Reserve Jamaica Blue Mountain Review
I recently received a surprise package from Starbucks. I opened the box to find an mysterious black box inside. I was intrigued to say the least. When I opened this second box, I discovered a gleaming bag of Starbucks Reserve Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. I didn’t even know that Starbucks had JBM coffee, and I was excited to give it a try. No matter what my previous experiences have been with Starbucks’ coffee, I can easily detach myself and be objective. Every coffee is different, and it is possible for a company to have an exceptional coffee, while also having less than stellar coffee. The Starbucks JBM retails for $30 for an 8 ounce bag, which is slightly north of the average price of JBM, but still reasonable if it is high quality.
Here is what Starbucks has to say about this coffee…
This rare coffee grows up to 5,000 feet above sea level, where the legendary blue-tinted mist, rich soil and abundant rainfall combine to create something amazing.
Cultivated using rigorous standards of excellence and meticulously certified authentic by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica, these beans offer flavors as iconic as the wooden barrels they have been shipped in since the 18th century. Notes of citrus fruit and smooth milk chocolate are complemented by intense, satisfying aromas.
With much anticipation, I opened the bag and breathed in the aroma of these coveted beans. The scent was wonderful, but a bit different than other JBM that I’ve had. The Starbucks Reserve Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee beans possessed a slightly spicy aroma, with hints of cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Most Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is lightly roasted to preserve the special flavors that are imparted into the coffee via the growing region. When coffee is roasted to a darker degree, the majority of the flavors are derived from the roasting process, and nearly all of the unique flavors are destroyed. Which brings me to the appearance of these beans. I was expecting to see a milk chocolate colored bean, but the Starbucks Reserve Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee was a bit darker. Not only was it darker in color, but the majority of the Starbucks Reserve beans were blotchy. The coloring was not uniform.
Despite the few anomalies, I was still open minded and I was psyched to finally taste this coffee. I brewed up a pot of french press and eagerly sipped, slurped, and swished the brew. Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is very sought after, mainly because of the reasons outlined in the Starbucks tasting notes. It’s a bit citrusy, but there is a silky smooth milk chocolate quality to it. In addition to these flavors, the region is relatively small and the majority of the coffee produced here is shipped to Japan! Scarcity impacts price. I expected these typical JBM qualities to present themselves in the Starbucks Reserve, but it was quite different. I was hit with the signature Starbucks smoke flavor. I can understand Starbucks wanting to put their stamp on this classic coffee, but there really is no need for this. Fine coffees speak for themselves with the way they present in the cup. That’s all that really matters, right? There was barely any hint of the usual JBM characteristics in this cup. I attempted to uncover these traits with other brewing methods, but I was unable to. The AeroPress and MokaPot produced similar results. This coffee was much better than other Starbucks branded coffees that I’ve had, but it fell short of other Jamaica Blue Mountain coffees. I could drink this coffee regularly, but at this price point, I would expect a product as alluring as its container.
It may seem that I’m a Starbucks hater, but I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘hater’ per se. I admire Starbucks for paving the way in ethical purchasing practices and introducing a country steeped in preground coffee, to the world of specialty coffee. I give them much credit for being a bridge from stale, auto-drip coffee to quality specialty coffee. I do think they outgrew their britches, and can no longer produce a truly exceptional coffee. The monstrosity that this business has grown into, has made it impossible to provide a consistent product without torching all of their product. Volume has trumped quality, and desecrating the macchiato is shameful.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this review, and I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below. I promise not to bite
For better coffee, try one of the brewing methods from our coffee brewing guides! They may take an extra minute or two, but you’ll be rewarded with exceptional flavor!
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