Ever wondered how Starbucks screen and source their coffee? We found out about it when Starbucks had a special Starbucks Reserve Masterclass, tracing the origins of select Starbucks Reserve coffees—including their three special varieties: the Starbucks Reserve Rwanda Hingakawa, Starbucks Reserve Guatemala Sta. Cecilia Estate, and the Starbucks Reserve Microblend No. 21.
The Masterclass was led by 2018 Starbucks Philippines Barista Champion Steaven Bueno and 2019 Starbucks Philippines Coffee Ambassador Kara Evangelista.
During the process of cupping, the coffee is experienced in its purest form, simply by immersing it in hot water. After a few minutes, the crust of coffee beans on top are broken so that you can sniff the aroma. The crust is then spooned out, and you slurp the coffee through a spoon. This is much like the way wine connoisseurs slurp and whirl the wine around their mouths during testing. It is here that we discover the smooth and fruity flavor of the Rwanda Hingkawa, the roasty and nutty hints of the Guatemala Sta. Cecilia Estate and the citrus dark chocolate undertones of Microblend No. 21.
Savoring the Flavor
As cupping allows you to taste the unadulterated flavor of the beans, you can virtually trace the origins of each. The Rwanda Hingkawa hints at notes of sweet mandarin citrus and honey, delicate florals and clove baking spices—virtually transporting you to its place of origin. The Guatemala Sta. Cecilia Estate gives a taste of caramelly accents and hints of cocoa in the palate—with visuals of sprawling Guatemalan farms swirling in your head with every slurp. The Microblend No. 21 bares its chocolaty base while hinting at candied citrus notes—the result of careful blending of Guatemalan and Kenyan beans.
My personal preference at this point was the Rwanda Hingkawa. It just hit all the right spots for me. But when I learned of the beans’ backstory, I became all the more affectionate over it.
Starbucks Reserve’s Single Origin Concept
Starbucks has been promoting and practicing ethical sourcing of coffee around the world, working with farmers in the coffee-growing communities around the world.
As its name suggests, the Guatemala Sta. Cecilia Estate is from a family-owned estate in Guatemala. The owner, Don Mariano Castillo, has been in the business of growing coffee for 50 years, as his days of being a truck driver took him to coffee farms as part of his route, and finally deciding to grow coffee beans himself.
The Rwanda Hingkawa has a rich backstory. In war-torn Rwanda (especially in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide), coffee has helped bring reconciliation and revitalization to the country. And the movement was spearheaded by women, who call themselves ‘Hingkawa’—which means ‘let’s grow coffee’. In a country where gender-equality is not recognized and even considered taboo, these women have come to symbolize bravery and triumph.
The beans are then served after brewing using the Pour Over method to further highlight their flavor and profile. As you might have guessed, the Pour Over method is where you put a filter over your cup, and pour hot water over ground beans and letting it sit for 3 minutes.
All the Starbucks Reserve beans are equally great: the Microblend is an easy choice whenever you visit, the Rwanda is great for a slow, lazy day, and the Guatemala Sta. Cecilia is great when paired with Starbucks’ excellent spread of pastries.
We were then served said pastries, making an already-great-day, perfect.
You can experience these coffee beans and try Starbucks’ latest offerings at your nearest Starbucks Reserve. For stores and the latest offerings from Starbucks, visit their website. Follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.