It was almost about 2 weeks after the launch of their 50th store in Chennai, that Star Bucks which is considered the most celebrated coffee brand in the world, had invited a few food bloggers & media for a Coffee Tasting Session with India’s first Starbucks Coffee Master, Vibhor Mishra, at Phoenix Market City, Velachery.The Starbucks India is a 50-50 partner with Tata Beverages which is Tata & Sons company.
I had to make my way through a crowded Starbucks to reach a neatly laid out table at the far end of the cafe, for the coffee tasting session. The crowd looked excited and enthusiastic about being in Starbucks and made me realise that the Starbucks fever is catching up in Chennai.
The outlet has both indoor and outdoor seating and on any cool day I would prefer to sit outside than inside. The staff was smiling and eager to serve which is what is most important in the hospitality industry. The decor of the cafeteria is welcoming with neatly laid table and benches.
After the formal introductions, Vibhor explained in detail what it takes to become a Starbucks Coffee. He explained that the Coffee samples have to get approved by Starbucks Trading Company in Switzerland. The Coffee used by Starbucks India is procured from Tata Coffee Plantations, especially the Arabica which is grown at 900m above the sea level, in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka and then it gets roasted in Vishal Nagar.
Explaining the concepts behind coffee making, he stressed that there are four fundamentals to it.. i) Proportion ii) Grind iii) Freshness and iv) Water. RO water should be used for making a coffee as the mineral content in water interferes with the taste. He mentioned that the stores use espresso roast (darker roast) and the retail outlets sell the medium roast.
Later on he skilfully demonstrated the making of coffee using a Pour over set and a French Press. The Pour over set has been exclusively launched for Chennai, understanding the passion people here have for coffee. The set comprises of a cone cup on top with an additional filter to go with it and a jar to collect the brewed coffee. In a pour over 30gms of freshly ground coffee is placed in the filter placed in the cone cup and a little water is added which allows the coffee to bloom. The coffee is allowed to rest for about 30secs after which 80z or 237ml of hot water is added slowly in the centre for 4-5mins. The pour over coffee had an intense flavour and aroma. One can order a pour over coffee at the Starbucks outlet and enjoy the experience of coffee getting brewed in front of them. It’s a coffee for people who do not like a latte and would prefer an Americano but I must tell you that the flavour and the strength is a distinguishing factor.
The entire process of making a Pour Over Coffee itself was gratifying. The pour over coffee set are available for Rs.1700 and the filters used in the making are priced at Rs.150 for 15filters. The pour over coffee is remarkably different from the filter coffee that the Chennaites love but the taste is definitely inviting which Chennaites should try. The pour over coffee is paired with Java Chip Chocolate Cookies, which were equally tasty.
The pour over coffee powder is finer and the French press coffee is coarse. For making a French Press coffee 180ml water is used for 10gms of coffee. The 8C French Press is also priced at Rs.1700 and makes 8cups of coffee. The coffee blend for French Press and Pour Over is available for sale through retail outlets at Starbucks and is priced Rs.750 for 250gms.
Other than the coffee tasting experience we had a chance to taste a Basil Tomato & Mozzarella Cheese Sandwich which had the freshness of tomatoes, a polish of basil pesto, topped by strings of cheese, sandwiched inside a seeded, Rye Bread. The bread itself had so much flavour, it was earthy and soft. The Chaptpata Paratha wrap was equally good. It had a tangy paneer and vegetables filling inside a paratha which was grilled. We also got to taste a Java Chip Frappuccino which is what I loved the most as I love the cold coffee blends. This had coffee, chocolaty chips, bittersweet mocha sauce, milk, ice and whipped cream.
After tasting the three items other than the coffee tasting experience, I realised Starbucks is just not about coffee, as there’s a decent range for veg and non veg indulgence in their food menu. I’m looking forward to more of Starbucks indulgence along with my family and like I said earlier, I would like to sit out and enjoy the evening breeze.