Starbucks Singapore Coffee Appreciation Class

Starbucks Singapore Coffee Appreciation

I never knew that Starbucks conducts coffee appreciation classes. Although being not much of a coffee drinker, it sounded interesting. So when my friends were organizing it, I decided to try it out last weekend. There were about 20 of us, and it cost S$15 per pax for the 45min to an hour session. The class was held at Marina Bay Link Mall @ Raffles Place (why is called Marina Bay Link Mall when it is no where near the Marina Bay MRT Station is really beyond me). Anyways, the session included finger foods such as almond cake, grapes and brownies to complement the coffee. There was also a complimentary voucher for coffee, valid for 6 months from date of issue.

We were greeted by the presenter, Mo (or is it Moe?), who introduced us to the world of coffee and the basics of appreciating coffee. We were told to slurp (the louder the better) the coffee, spread it throughout our tongue and then think of where the taste of the coffee lands on the tongue.
The Four Steps of Coffee Tasting (Starbucks)
1. Smell.
Our sense of taste is directly influenced by our sense of smell. When tasting a coffee, smell it first. Place your hand over your coffee mug or tasting cup. Hold the cup close to your nose and inhale. What do you notice? Describe the aroma.

2. Slurp.
When tasting a coffee, it is important to slurp it. By slurping, you spray the coffee across your entire palate. This allows the subtle flavours and aromas to reach all the tasting zones of your tongue.

3. Locate the experience on your tongue.
As you taste a coffee, think about where you are experiencing flavours on your tongue. Note the weight of the coffee on your tongue.

4. Write a description.
Use descriptive sensory words to express the dominant characteristics of the aroma, the flavour and the way the coffee feels in your mouth. Your own past experiences provide great reference points. What food or other experiences can you compare it with?
The presentation alternated between powerpoint slides, some videos on how coffee is harvested, sorted, roasted, and packed before ending up in our cup of coffee. We got to learn about the various types of coffee and how each type is roasted to achieve a certain flavor and/or blended together.

We got to taste 3 different types of coffee, from the mild subtle Blonde (Starbucks Veranda Blend), the Medium (Kenya), to the Dark (French Roast). With each of the coffees, we were introduced to foods that complimented each type.
 
Blonde 
Coffees in this category have a light body and mellow flavors. We got to try the Starbucks Veranda Blend which has delicate nuances of soft cocoa and lightly toasted nuts. Gracious and flavorful, without being overly bold. The Almond Butter Cake went with the Starbucks Veranda Blend, and the coffee without any sugar was not that bitter.

Medium
The coffee beans in this category have been roasted for a longer time than those in the Blonde category, and tend to have a flavor that is balanced with smooth and rich flavors. We got to try the Kenya flavor, which supposedly tastes big and juicy with complex layers of black current, fresh blackberry and even tart grapefruit. Compared to the Starbucks Veranda Blend, the Kenya had a more stronger smell and slightly more bitter. Surprisingly, the grapes went well with the Kenyan coffee. Although I wouldn't say that this is my favorite, it was interesting drinking coffee and eating grapes. Guess I am not used to it.
 
Dark
The dark category has a fuller body and robust, bold flavors. It has a stronger burnt smell and was the most bitter of the 3 coffees. We tried the French Roast, which is Starbucks darkest and boldeest roast with a smokly (or burnt) flavor which is intense and uncompromising. The French roast was paired with the delicious brownie, which made the coffee drinkable (for me at least).
 
Starbucks Singapore Coffee Appreciation
 
The foods really complimented the coffees and helped to cut down the bitterness of coffee without sugar without any weird aftertastes. It was amazing how the taste of the coffee changed slightly when mixed it with the food. By the end of the class, all of us would have had finished at least half a (small) cup of each type of coffee. I'd have to say that my favorite was the Starbucks Veranda Blend.

There was a Q&Q session towards the end and 3 lucky people “won” a bag of coffee each. Overall, it was an interesting experience getting to know more about the origin, history and development of coffee, as well as the different types of coffee and where they come from. It was an interesting experience.
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When travel collides with a byte, a unit of information made up of bits, TravelBytez is formed: snippets of ramblings on travel, food, shopping, living and anything else that comes to mind.
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