The ‘Languages’ of Wine and Coffee Are Merging

grapes with coffee beans,breadHappy National Coffee Day!

In honor of this special occasion, I’m beginning my day where I start most days: at my neighborhood Starbucks shop.

(If you must know, I typically order a tall dark roast with just a little bit of room, to which I add a splash of half-and-half. And, since I’m a long-time Starbucks gold card holder, I almost always go back for a free refill as I do my morning work, much of it performed online with Starbucks’ complimentary WiFi service.)

Why am I writing about coffee in a wine blog? Because the two beverages share an increasingly common language, especially when it comes to higher-end coffees and wines. Beyond that, Starbucks — the world’s leading seller of coffee — has been testing the sale of wine with the hope of bolstering evening sales at its shops.

I first wrote about Starbucks “romancing the vine” in this 2009 blog, describing the new type of shop the company had opened in its hometown of Seattle.

Earlier this year, I posted this update about the effort, noting how Starbucks has expanded its testing of coffee shops selling wine.

Since I’m a dark roast guy, I often try new coffees as they find their way to Starbucks shops or the company’s website. More and more, reading the description of a specific type of coffee is much like reading the description of a specific bottle of wine. Even terms like “Reserve” have found their way into coffee’s lexicon.

Case in point: Starbucks’ Reserve Panama Carmen Estate. Not only is the wine designated as a “Reserve,” a term inferring higher quality, but its specific place of origin — the Carmen Estate in Panama — is noted.

Even the “story” of the wine that Starbucks shares sounds much like one of our Vinesse wine tasting notes: “For the first time, we have the opportunity to bring you an offering from Panama’s acclaimed Carmen Estate — a family-owned business that produces some of the world’s best specialty coffees. For three generations, the Franceschi family has taken great pride in selectively picking only the ripest, bright red coffee cherries at their absolute peak of flavor.”

If that makes you want to know even more about the coffee, Starbucks is happy to oblige: “The coffee is nurtured and milled in the Volcan Valley. This mountainous micro-region, on the narrow isthmus between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, offers rich, loamy volcanic soil. Cool, frost-free nights give way to dry, sun-drenched days, creating ideal conditions for growing the quintessential Panamanian coffee: a bright, lemony acidity in the cup with a nutty sweetness.”

“Bright, lemony acidity.” Sounds a bit like Sauvignon Blanc.

“Nutty sweetness.” Sounds like a good Port, or perhaps a Cream Sherry.

Then there’s Starbucks’ Reserve Brazil Fazenda Apucarana, which is described as having “subtle sweet berry aromas with flavor notes of raisin and chocolate.” Not unlike many a California Zinfandel or Italian Amarone.

Sounds like a good way to start the day…. until I can get those flavors from something on my wine rack — or at a Starbucks shop that sells wine — at a more, ahem, appropriate hour.

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Posted in Editor's Journal
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