Starbucks Coffee rating: 4.5/5
This is a very special coffee diary entry where my foray at Starbucks at Horniman’s circle was much more than just a coffee diaries expedition.
After attending two Starbucks India events in a fortnight where I got an opportunity to understand their modus operandi and connect with their several partners, I somehow feel a strong connection with this coffeehouse chain. Irrespective of the city, I get a homey feeling in all the Starbucks outlets now, and, most of the times, I end up having good conversations with their partners. There is always so much to learn about coffee in these events, and the latest one was no exception in the league. In an interactive session, it was a privilege to meet D. Major Cohen, who is the Coffee Ambassador at Starbucks, where he shared his exceptional knowledge about coffee along with launching a new Starbucks beverage known as Flat White. As a coffee enthusiast, this session was one of my most memorable experiences, and it brought me more closer to this franchise.
Major Cohen’s journey with Starbucks started in 1995 where he joined as a part-time barista. Today, the world recognizes him as a Global Coffee Ambassador of Starbucks. Through his insightful coffee tasting sessions, he shares his knowledge and passion with people and helps them learn more about coffee. He also plays a major role in deciding which beans to buy for the company. In his role as a Senior Coffee Educator, he guides and assists the team in the daily coffee cupping sessions.
The event was held on September 15, 2015, at the historic outlet – Horniman circle, Fort. Being the first store of Starbucks in India, this outlet has its own charm with its vintage architecture and mesmerizing décor. Artistically, the design complements South Bombay’s architecture, and its overall ambiance engulfs you within moments. According to me, this is one of the finest Starbucks in India.
The fun-filled event started with a coffee tasting session, which is also known as coffee cupping, and Major Cohen explained us the prerequisites of understanding its flavours. My obsession for this brewed drink made me learn these steps by heart and here is the sequence.
Smell – Inhale the aroma
Slurp – It is important to slurp a coffee. By slurping, you spray it on your entire palate
Taste – Taste the coffee and locate the flavors
Describe – Finally, write a description
It was an eye-opening and an exhilarating experience. We tasted Starbucks’s three types of coffees: Veranda Blend, India Estates Blend, and Sumatra. With the appropriate guidance of Major Cohen, I could easily identify the differences in them in terms of acidity, flavour, and aftertaste, and it gave me immense happiness to be able to distinguish the subtle differences – something which I could never do before. We also understood the food pairing of every coffee based on its flavour. For example: Veranda blend gives you soft and mellow flavour; hence, a butter croissant and an almond biscotti goes very well with it. Similarly, India Estates Blends, which is considered the best in India and comes from Coorg and Chikmagalur, gives chocolate and herbal flavours; hence, Java chip chocolate cookie and chocolate coated nuts complements this coffee. India is the sixth largest producer of coffee.
The Starbucks India Coffee Championship winner Saili Rane, and the first runner up Rubeena Qureshi were also a part of this event where, along with Major Cohen, they also shared their knowledge about coffee with the audience. It is so surprising to see such young and talented partners with tremendous confidence and knowledge about coffee.
While sharing his invaluable insights, Major Cohen further mentioned: “We pride ourselves with the great customer experience, and I am very proud to be a part of Starbucks. The first thing which Starbucks learnt was how to roast. Even though if beans look exactly the same after roasting, they might taste different. You must understand the right temperature to roast. Also, we never use the word ‘strong’ as everybody has a different definition, and the experience varies per person.”
Interaction with Major Cohen was the highlight of the session. It was a pleasure to meet with a real coffee connoisseur, someone who has a plethora of knowledge about this brewed drink. His sublimely expertise in tandem with his humble and winsome personality was a delightful sight. He mentioned that you would never drink coffee in a normal manner after this coffee cupping, and he was absolutely correct. I always follow the four steps of coffee tasting now whenever I splurge on it. I was so glad to learn so much about coffee at the end of the day which I am sure will help me in my ongoing Coffee Diaries expedition where I am hunting down the best cafes in Mumbai. We were fortunate to witness the launch of their new beverage “Flat White” where the blend of double shot espresso with milk was rich and flavoursome. Major Cohen further mentioned that the three coffees which we tasted today – Veranda, India Estates Blend, and Sumatra – will lose their flavour when blended with milk whereas this new beverage with roasted espresso is different. It will not lose its flavor with milk.
Starbucks events never cease to surprise me where every experience makes me understand more about their culture. I look forward to many more such delightful experiences.
My succinct version:
Type of Café: Fine dining, Wifi, Great coffee.
Quality of coffee: 4.5/5
WiFi: 3.5/5 (A Caveat – Their Wifi does not work properly with Apple devices)
Place for professional meet ups: 5/5
Occasional workplace: 5/5