Posts tagged starbucks

Coffee shoot-out results

Well, someone commented that matching up the Starbucks Christmas blend against 5 Senses blend is like trying to get the Malaysian football team to play against Brazil or something.Well, a shootout is a shoot-out.

Well, in the end, that may be true. It’s 5 Senses by a 4-0 score (and out of 4 tasters too).


Pop open the 5 Senses bag and you get immediately hit with that aromatic caffeinated goodness that coffee is all about. The Christmas blend from Starbucks, well, it has that coffee aroma but it doesn’t hit you in the face so much. Pour the beans into the grinder and it doesn’t offer up much aroma either. Grind up a couple of shots worth of 5 Senses and your kitchen is guaranteed to smell like a coffee shop. 5 Senses 1, Starbucks 0.


I can’t say when the Christmas blend was roasted but I managed to pull quite a number of shots with crema on it. This contrasts with many of the other Starbucks coffees where pulling a shot with any volume of crema is close to hitting the lottery or something. It’s fresher than their other coffees but against the 5 Senses is like night and day. A friend whom I’ve given the coffee in ziplock bags labelled A and B commented — pull one shot and you already know which one is fresh and they other not. Again, the score is not pretty. 5 Senses 1, Starbucks 0.


Guess which coffee tasted over-roasted and a bit burnt? Don’t need to say more do I? All four tasters including myself came to the same conclusion. The Starbucks Christmas blend tastes like burnt Christmas pudding or something. Bitter, burnt flavor was prevalent, hiding the generally spicy flavors that the beans had. After a couple of shots, I had to resort to adding syrup to my coffee which doesn’t bode well. On the other hand, four out of four agreed that the medium bodied 5 senses really had that nutty, fruity smoothness that comes from careful blending and roasting of select beans. Again, it’s a 1-0 score.

Finally, let’s talk economics. a 1kg bag of 5 senses will set you back about RM190.  They’re only a week old from roasting though and compared to the Christmas blend which retails for about RM40 for 250gm bag (or RM160 per kg), the numbers don’t stack up well. For only a few more ringgit (18% to be exact), you get coffee that’s guaranteed fresher, more aromatic and full of flavor. If you’re counting espresso shots, it’s RM2.67 per double-shot for the 5 Senses and RM2.25 for the Starbucks Christmas blend. Knockout!

I know that 5 senses is my Christmas coffee this year and years to come. So much so that I’m getting my bag of Yirgacheffe single origin the week before Christmas. If you don’t agree with me, swing by my place and let me pull you two shots and you’ll taste the world of a difference.

If you’re coming in to our Studio for your photography sessions, I’ve got 5 senses for ya!


Starbucks Via

Instant Starbucks coffee?



The main draw of Starbucks has been the “Third place”. A place to hang-out, to meet friends, business associates, to ponder the meaning of life and the universe, that sort of thing. To turn that experience into a instant cup of coffee you make at home just doesn’t seem like it would work. Introducing Starbucks Via!

To me, it doesn’t.

Let’s get back to basics. The coffee at Starbucks is average. Worse on some days and better on some. The beans aren’t the freshest and the barista’s skill plays the other part. Some days, I actually insist the barista remake my latte or cappuccino. Instant Via tastes quite poor actually. I actually find it’s made from over-roasted beans and it tastes overly bitter, flat and lifeless. You pay RM12 per cup because it’s the whole experience. The ambiance, the place, etc. I can’t see myself paying RM2.50 for this tiny satchet that doesn’t really taste much better than Nescafe Gold! Two strikes.

If you’ve taken the red pill in the world of coffee then you would know the truth out there. Stale beans make lousy coffee. It’s unfair to compare Via to my week-old roasted Five Senses of which the difference is like night and day. I compared to Nescafe Gold and Alta Rica as well as house brands such as First Choice and Jusco selects.

The results? Not good. They all taste rather similar. I would have expected the Via to stand out a bit. After all, there’s a taste promise that goes with the Via. In Italian, Via can have many meanings, but for me, Starbucks Via means way, and it’s way out the door. Doesn’t make my coffee grade one bit.

Last Week Coffee reviews…

The past month or so, I’ve been treating myself to more expensive black liquid… no, no, not the petroleum variety but the caffeine packed stuff. Since I usually have time to make and enjoy my coffee on weekends, I figured no point getting some el cheapo coffee. Anyways, late April I got the Colombia Nariño El Tambo Black Apron exclusive but just last week, I was recommended by my regular Barista to try the Rwanda Blue Bourbon. So of course I did. Anyways, the Colombian, well, tastes like most latin American coffee I’ve tasted, kinda chocolately with a hint of citrus. Somehow I did not taste any floral notes that were claimed. The Rwanda Blue Bourbon on the other hand was quite good. I like my coffee bold but the Rwanda has complexity and body that I savor in a coffee. I also make them extra thick…

Both are quite good but somehow the Rwanda Blue Bourbon suits my taste better. Goes well with many simple breakfasts or heavier Malaysian fare too which is another advantage!

Current Coffee @ new house

Well, a new home needs a new coffee flavor for the mornings so this time round, we’ve gone Sumatran with the daily blend being the Starbucks Sumatra blend with it’s intense flavor and morning jump-starting capability — just the thing to get you going in the morning.

Weekends are supposed to be more relaxing so the Saturday and Sunday coffee calls for an earthly, aromatic and herbal coffee. Obviously weekend treats means the coffee must be good since I have time to savor it a bit. We’ve also gone to Sumatra, actually, to Siborong-borong on the shores of Lake Toba to be exact! Delightfully intense but low-acidity, it’s just the thing for a relaxing Saturday or Sunday morning – Starbucks Black ApronSumatra Siborong-borong.

A Starbucky workplace

Where else to work when you’re at the customer site and you need a change of scene?

Low-fat milk latte, extra hot, hazelnut syrup, to-Go!

PNG Caffeine

Well, for Mother’s day, I decided to get Mom the usual bag of coffee. However, it can’t be any regular coffee you can find year-round. It had to be some limited or seasonal bean or blend. I know she likes things bold so I went with Starbuck’s Papua New Guinea Estate. Having tasted it, it’s rather juicy with a strong aroma that has hints of herbal essences. Good breakfast coffee but it’s not so acidic so it may be a good start for those with stomach problems but need a caffeine jolt in the morning!