Our favorite bougie coffee chain is getting even bougier—that's right, we're talking Starbucks. As if expensive cold brews and seasonal espresso drinks weren't enough, Starbucks has taken itself to a whole new level of classiness—in the form of Starbucks Reserve

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Allen Peng

What Is Starbucks Reserve?

The first of these premium Starbucks cafés went up in Seattle in 2014, and they have been spreading ever since. The Reserve café in Chelsea, Manhattan opened earlier this year, and has proven that Starbucks is officially joining the new hipster-loving, cold-brewing, slow-dripping, pour-over, third-wave coffee community. 

All of the rare, reserve blends are roasted in small batches at the original Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle, Washington and are shipped to the various Reserve locations and select Starbucks stores that are popping up around the country. 

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Allen Peng

The Reserve Story

Not only are the storefronts chic, sleek, and just as bougie as you would imagine, they aim to promote the personality behind each cup of coffee. The Starbucks Reserve story emphasizes the growers, pickers, roasters, and servers, trying to bring the small-business feel to a brand that is anything but small.

Members of the company travel to different countries to sample blends from a variety of coffee bean farms, searching for unique flavors and engaging in a lengthy tasting process. The result is a selection of rare blends with individual stories, traveling carefully from farm to table—or mug.

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Allen Peng

Putting The Trend to The Test

The question is, are these newer, trendier, rarer coffee blends really better than the Pike Place Roast and caramel macchiatos that we've all grown to know and love? One Store Manager and barista raved about the brand, saying the unique blends and expensive brewing machine (the "Clover") are a fresh and exciting addition to the Starbucks experience—

"I think the Reserve coffee is AWESOME because you get to drink/serve coffee made of beans from all over the place... It's really cool. And people love getting coffee from the Clover because the machine makes a single fresh cup of coffee at a time. And that really heightens the flavor and deliciousness of the coffee."

Allen Peng

I went to the newest addition to the NYC Starbucks culture to see if my extra $2 can really change my coffee experience. The layout is chic yet cozy, as dim lights give off an almost nightclub-esque vibe.

The coffee itself is rich, bold, and everything we all claim to love in our dark roasts. Unfortunately, I'm no coffee connoisseur, so my $4.50, 10oz cup of Starbucks Reserve Sumatra (which was described to be full of maple and toasted marshmallow flavor tones) was difficult compare to my daily caramel iced coffee (loaded with cream and sugar).

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Allen Peng

For the rest of the coffee drinking world, the Starbucks Reserve brand offers a unique and personal experience with each individual cup. If your pockets are feeling a little full and you're willing to splurge in the name of caffeine, this roasting revolution could be just what you need. As one barista says, "Once they go black (Reserve) they don't go back".

coffee, beer, wine
Allen Peng