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Youve Got To Taste The Coffee

Paul Schlossberg
Recently you read about my trip to see the Starbucks Reserve Bar at The Domain in Austin. The store was so busy that day, my decision was to wait for another occasion to taste test one of the new Reserve Coffees brewed with one of the (seven) brewing methods featured there.  

My second visit began about 1:00 p.m. when we walked in the store. There were very few seats available. Every seat at the coffee bar was taken. Most of the tables were occupied with groups of two or three. Some folks were actively engaged with their laptops or tablets. The full house, not quite standing-room-only, made me think that "Coffee has become a place to be."

Now it was my turn to decide on the specific coffee beans and the brewing method. For the beans it was Guatemala Santa Isabel – described as having tastes of citrus, chocolate and honey. My brewing selection was Clover Brewed. Let me quote the menu, "Highly precise, the Clover brewer utilizes a full-immersion brewing method paired with vacuum extraction to bring out the coffee's flavors." This order was for coffee, not a specialty drink. It was time to really taste the coffee.  

My wait time, after ordering and paying at the counter, was about five minutes. There were at least five or six people waiting for their orders. Because this was a specially brewed coffee order, it was made for me at the Reserve Bar instead of at the (usual) barista station. The baristas at the Reserve Bar counter worked fast and with purpose. It was obvious to me that they had mastered these new brewing methods.

The barista called my name and handed me the sleek black cup. The Reserve cup is clearly different from the usual white Starbucks logo cups. It reinforces the fact that you've ordered a different cup of coffee. Anyone seeing you with this black cup also knows that you're drinking something new and different.  

My question to the barista was "How long does the Clover brew take from start to finish?" Her response, "About two minutes."

Since the store was crowded, we made our way to the seating outside. It was a nice cool day. We sat down away from the heat of the fire pit.

Now it's finally time to taste the coffee. It was rich, smooth and strong. This is definitely an addition to my list of preferred coffees. But, next time, my plan is to try another coffee bean and a different brewing method. They've shown me that there is a lot more to learn about coffee beans and brewing.

Get out of your office! Go taste-test some unique and different coffees. Even if you do not live near a Starbucks Reserve location, you will find other excellent coffee shops in your area. Maybe it will be an independent shop with only one location. You can find small chains, operating just a few locations. Check out their menus. Taste test some coffees made with varieties of beans you've never had before. You've got a lot to learn about coffee.

Your shoppers are expanding their coffee horizons. They want a better coffee experience. You cannot afford to be late on the coffee learning curve. Go out of the office. You've got to taste the coffee.


Paul Schlossberg is the president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX area, he can be reached at or 972-877-2972 or

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