Seriously, Are We Drinking Coffee or Wine?

coffeepairingsAs regular readers of this blog know, I’m a Starbucks guy. Because my work does not require me to be tied to an office, I do a great deal of my daily work at a couple of Starbucks locations, both close to where my wife works (yes, her job ties her to an office).

This routine gets me out of the house so I can stay connected to all kinds of trends, from fashion to human behavior, and it also enables me to enjoy my second-favorite beverage in a welcoming atmosphere.

Before going any further, let me make it clear that I’m not one of THOSE Starbucks people. I do not simply grab a table, plug in the laptop and stare at my computer or cell phone screen. I always buy coffee and often purchase food as well, and during longer stays, I go back for a second drink. Nothing is more annoying than watching people come in, sit down and just take up space without ordering any coffee or food — except for the people who come in, take up space, don’t order coffee or food, AND bring in their own food. That takes a lot of nerve.

Anyway, let’s just say I’m a polite Starbucks guy, and they make a lot of money off my patronage. My gold card proves it.

When I was living in Chicago, one of the larger downtown Starbucks locations was experimenting with occasional coffee-and-food pairing seminars. They’d select a specific day and time, and invite customers in to try one of their food items with one of their coffee blends or coffee drinks. I attended a few, and they were fun.

Before long, “wine-speak” terms like “Reserve” were appearing on packages of limited-edition Starbucks coffees.

Now, Starbucks Chef Stefano Cordova has come up with some very interesting coffee-and-food pairing suggestions for three of Starbucks’ most popular roasts: the light roast known as Veranda, the medium roast known as Pike Place, and the dark roast known as Espresso.

One of the recommended pairings for the light roast is toasted brioche with fresh avocado. As the Starbucks newsletter noted, “The avocado gives the coffee a more robust mouthfeel, making this light roast taste suddenly taste more full-bodied.”

Mouthfeel… full-bodied. Sound like wine terminology?

For the medium roast, one of Chef Cordova’s recommended dishes is a grilled cheese sandwich. Why? Because “the cheese and bread act like cream and sugar in the coffee, making it deliciously smooth and easy to drink.”

Smooth… easy to drink. More wine-speak.

And with the dark roast, one of Chef Cordova’s suggestions is a chocolate truffle. “They balance each other nicely, for a smooth, seamless taste.”

Balance… smooth… seamless.

Seriously, are we drinking coffee or wine here? Frankly, I don’t care, because if my beverage — whether it’s coffee or wine — has most of these attributes, I’m a happy guy.

Here’s is a link to a video featuring Chef Cordova and other food-pairing suggestions for the three Starbucks roasts.

You can drink coffee by itself, just as you can drink wine by itself, and have a fine experience. But in each case, when you can find something complementary to eat with it, the experience is elevated.

Given the choice, I’ll take “elevated” whenever I can get it.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work… here at Starbucks.

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