After buying beans intermittently from Starbucks for years, and being disappointed each and every time by the overly roasted flavors, reminiscent of gasoline, I decided to try a bag of their new, prestigious, single origin beans…one last time. Truth be told, it was actually pretty decent. However, when I analyzed my decision, many bags later, I decided that the reason the beans were palatable now was due to a mental flavor comparison of their older, signature blends that were of low quality (lots of broken beans), and quite over roasted.
The beauty of single origin beans are their subtle flavors, apparent in lighter roasts. As the bean roasts and turns to a medium dark brown with a bit of an oil sheen, the complex flavors begin to fade, and the roast character is prominent. Starbucks single origin beans are all at least of this color, if not darker, with the Peruvian coming in at a solid, moderate dark brown with light surface oil. “Any origin characteristics have become eclipsed by roast at this level.” Check out our post on this.
In addition to this, there are other flavor contributors being roasted over, such as the processing method used on the beans, “usually the single largest contributor to the flavor profile of a coffee.” as well as the microclimate and soil or terroir.
So, if the beans are fairly good, buy them, drink and enjoy the coffee, but don’t be deluded into thinking you’re getting your complex flavors’ worth.
Decriptions of roast color and character taken from the glossary of coffee and espresso terms.