What it’s Like to Visit a Starbucks Reserve Coffee Bar
Marketing marvels exist in so many ingenious ways, don’t they?
There’s the start-ups that end up going gangbusters (Facebook), the solutions that soon become sensational successes (Dave Ramsey), and the institutions we see as commonplace that got that way because they refused to be common at all (Chick-fil-A).
And then there’s Starbucks.
Photo – Starbucks Reserve Coffee Bar experience menu
Starbucks – a Dot on the Over Fifty Timeline
When I think about it, I feel as though Starbucks brought about such a monumental shift in existence that it almost deserves a dot on the very timeline of every Over Fiftyer’s life. Life before carpool. Life after carpool. Life before cell phones, and life after.
Life before Starbucks. Life after Starbucks.
Of course, before Starbucks, we could drive around town with coffee from our local convenience stores. But why spend the money when what we could bring from home was just as good.
So, when the green umbrellas went up outside a coffee shop with a drive through window? And they were mixing the coffee with frothed milk and peppermint syrup? Oh, yeah. America was down for that, all right.
Photo – barista prepares our tray
There Were Skeptics
As much as I loved my new favorite treat (peppermint mocha), and as much as I dearly hoped this trend would continue, even I leaned a little to the side of skeptical.
Would enough people really want to pay $4 for coffee? And when other coffee shops started popping up, would they gain enough of the market share to force the frontrunner out of business altogether?
Photo – the siphoning starts
Starbucks Keeps on Perkin’
Silencing every skeptic out there, Starbucks just kept right on perkin’ and puttin’ out a consistently delicious cup of coffee.
After being the first to introduce a seasonal pumpkin spice latte to the menu, the chain has now sold over 200 million of them in 15 years. Then came the Starbucks app, followed by order-ahead.
New Yorkers are about to become the first to enjoy the brand’s new “Starbucks Pickup” store, dedicated to in-app orders only. Are you skeptical about whether that one will work?
Yeah. Me neither.
Photo – carefully measured ground Reserve coffee is whisked lightly into very hot water
Starbucks Sets the Standard
Though my millennial son disagrees, Starbucks holds up a consistent standard that’s hard to beat. Granted, it’s super fun to visit small-town Texas coffee shops, and it’s a unique thrill to have coffee on the deck at Mozart’s in Austin.
However, there have been times in my coffee-life where I’ve walked away wishing I hadn’t spent my coffee-money where I just did.
That never happens to me at Starbucks.
Photo – our own tray of 3 small coffee pitchers and 2 substantial mugs, perfect for very hot coffee
Reserve Coffee Bars Aren’t Everywhere
So, when we moved to Dallas to an apartment within walking distance of the first Starbucks Reserve coffee bar, the experience quickly found its place on my mental “list” to be saved for the most opportune moment.
I mean, I know I get excited about this kind of thing, but Reserve coffee bars only exist in 12 of these 50 United States! Texas just happens to be home to three of those locations, and I can walk to one of them? Somebody pinch me.
Guess you can tell. I could hardly wait for National Coffee Day.
Photo – the xotic Reserve coffees served for our experience were from Ethiopia, Hawaii and Guatemala
Is it Good?
Of course, now you’re wondering. Is Brenda blowing smoke? Maybe she’s just being blonde and sanguine and getting us excited for nothing? Is it even good, for crying out loud?
Yes, it’s good. It really is good. But, I think when you’re in Dallas, Plano or Austin, you should try it for yourself. Don’t even think about taking my word for it, all you Skeptical Susies out there.
Perhaps you can celebrate an occasion, make it a date night, even take the kids when they’re in town. This coffee bar thing is a unique experience, and whether you’re as big a fan as I am, you surely don’t want to live your whole life saying you haven’t done it.
My poor, wonderful man. That’s pretty much how I talk him into a whole lot of our adventures.
But, if you ask him about it, I think he’ll agree.
This was fun.
Photo – coffee descriptions on back of each card, like “creamy and smooth milk chocolate notes with an almond sweetness”
Now that I’ve assured you the $12 / person cost for the Reserve coffee bar experence is worth it, here are a few tips that might help to know before you go.
1.Pay at the register.
Although it may look like patrons are supposed to take a seat at the bar and order from there, you actually must place your order and pay at the register, just the same as if you were asking for your non-fat-oat-milk-latte-extra-hot.
2.Take your receipt.
Take your receipt and find a seat on a stool at the coffee bar. The barista may not greet you right away if he’s serving someone else, but he knows you are there and will set up your tray momentarily.
3.Don’t be shy.
Reserve coffee bars are one of those prime places for people who work outside a traditional office, which means they’re typically pretty full. If someone else is sitting in front of the Clover equipment, it’s totally appropriate to ask them to switch seats or move down. Customers who have paid for this experience get first dibs. It’s not a bit fun to ask someone (in our case, two guys with laptops) to give up his or her seat, but if you don’t, you (a) won’t get to see the siphoning, and (b) the barista won’t be able to offer a commentary or answer your questions. (I hope Starbucks will consider trying to improve this part of the Reserve experience. We would have greatly preferred for the barista to make that ask on our behalf.)
4. Think ahead if you want something sweet.
Texas wineries offer little crackers at tastings, but a pumpkin muffin probably goes better with coffee. So, if you think you might want to cleanse your palate between Ethiopia and Guatemala, go ahead and purchase something before you start the siphoning experience. We were already seated and watching the water boil when I remembered how much I love scones and muffins and lemon loaf and all that kind of Starbucks whatnot with my coffee.
5. Plan your bedtime.
Eeeeeeeeek. There’s nothing more miserable than realizing you had too much caffeine just about the time your head has already hit the pillow. Starbucks Reserve coffees are very smooth and unassuming. So don’t assume you can drink three of them at 8:00 and be asleep by 10:00. Probably not gonna happen. I don’t want you cussin’ me in the night, neither, sayin’ I didn’t give you enough forewarnin.’
So, consider yourself forewarned, my coffee loving friends.
A Nice Place to Sit and Visit
Really, it is just so great that Starbucks offers a drive-through and a pick-up. Sometimes we need to get the coffee and move on down the road.
But the best way to enjoy a great cup of coffee is to sit a minute, sip a while, and share some time with someone you love.
Yep, I think that’s a great way to market this marvel.
Encouraging a life filled with everyday intentional adventure, including some Reserve-d time for you and a friend,