Take your love for coffee to the next level at Starbucks Reserve at S Maison, which offers the “Coffee Experience Bar,” a sit-down demo on snazzy ways to brew coffee.
Through the Coffee Experience Bar, one can make coffee through four special methods—Pour-Over, Chemex, Clover and Siphon—and watch while the baristas perfect the brews.
“People can learn more about premium coffee flavors through these brewing methods,” explains Celine Lichauco, Starbucks senior category food specialist. “Our ‘coffee masters’ are trained to answer questions about the coffee’s acidity, their origin and which food to pair them with.”
Since Filipinos usually order sweet and creamy Frappucino blended beverages, Lichauco encourages diners at S Maison to order premium coffee instead off the Reserve menu—separate from the traditional Starbucks menu, which is also available.
Diners are also advised to get out of their coffee comfort zone and take it hot and black, to appreciate its unique notes and flavors.
For now, the full Coffee Experience Bar is available only at S Maison, a branch classified as a “Starbucks Reserve.”
There are several Starbucks Reserves in the Philippines; it’s the brand’s answer to the “third wave coffee movement,” a concept that highlights serving artisanal brews from special-origin beans, often in hip cafés frequented by coffee connoisseurs.
Apart from the Coffee Experience Bar, the Starbucks Reserve at S Maison also offers a pleasant view of Manila Bay—a refreshing vista in urban Manila. S Maison is the swanky mall at Conrad Manila, a new hotel at Mall of Asia complex in Pasay.
Starbucks Reserves carry exclusive coffee blends not found in the usual Starbucks.
Say, if you’re tired of the usual Americano, Starbucks Reserve offers a tall, dark and exotic Colombian for a change of flavor.
We recently took the black coffee-tasting challenge at S Maison, facilitated by coffee master Hero Bonyad. His first rule: Smell and slurp—don’t sip.
“Cup your hand over the coffee, hold the cup close to your nose and inhale,” Bonyad instructed. “Then slurp. Slurping sprays coffee across the entire palate, letting subtle flavors and aromas reach your nose.”
Slurping without showering hot coffee all over one’s face takes practice, but it indeed does wonders in terms of better-tasting coffee.
Our first cup was the Starbucks Reserve Cape Verde Fogo Island, a blend from Africa brewed via the Pour-Over method.
Bonyad poured hot water, just off the boil, into the coffee grounds in a ceramic cone lined with a paper filter—always make sure it’s damp so that the coffee won’t taste like paper, he said.
Cape Verde coffee has a delicate floral aroma with notes of lime acidity. It has a sweet, floral finish highlighted by the lemon macaron it was paired with.
Next was a cup of El Salvador Monte Carlos Estate coffee brewed using the Chemex method. It is similar to the Pour-Over, but makes use of a glass decanter where coffee is steeped in hot water. The brew is filtered after a few minutes, producing a clean coffee taste.
El Salvador coffee has a piney herbal aroma, and a full-bodied flavor with notes of red apple and cane sugar—perfect with a salted caramel macaron.
“The Coffee Experience Bar is for anyone who wants to chill and watch coffee being brewed,” Lichauco explained.
And since people hang out at Starbucks to study, work, date or catch-up anyway, why not have a capsule coffee class, too?
In between slurping coffee and munching macarons, we were introduced to an intimidating bulky machine: the Clover.
It is a brewing system with an innovative Vacuum-Press technology that digitally controls brewing time and temperature to produce a full coffee flavor.
It also looks like a device from a chemistry lab, but it produces really good coffee one cup at a time, said coffee master Annie Alcantara.
With a few clicks, she brewed a cup of Colombia San Fermin, and instructed us to look at the top of machine: The discarded coffee grounds in the shape of a pancake started floating, leaving us with a satisfying serving of Colombian coffee with notes of tropical papaya and black currant.
And then there’s the Siphon method, an awesome (and photogenic) way to brew coffee using halogen lights to heat water from a coffee chamber into a glass globe. This process gave us a cup of Burundi Murambi, an exquisite Africa coffee with hints of lemon, black tea and cinnamon.
You can mix and match the brewing methods with the beans, adds Lichauco.
Take time to enjoy this novel coffee experience at the chic S Maison Reserve, which features warm industrial interiors and paintings depicting the Filipino countryside.