Not to brag, but I believe I am uniquely qualified to tackle this particular topic.
I often start my work day at our neighborhood Starbucks coffee shop, where I typically order the featured 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 writing, which then gets sent to designated recipients with an assist from Starbucks’ complimentary WiFi service.
Since last I wrote about the coffee-and-wine connection, I’ve noticed that the two beverages are sharing an increasingly common language — especially when it comes to higher-end coffees and wines.
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 coffee 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 coffee 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” is exactly the kind of description you’ll find for many Sauvignon Blanc wines.
“Nutty sweetness” is a common description of Cream Sherry and some Port wines.
Starbucks described its Reserve Brazil Fazenda Apucarana as having “subtle sweet berry aromas with flavor notes of raisin and chocolate.” That sounds like a zesty California (red) Zinfandel to me.
Generally speaking, people who like lighter coffees will gravitate to lighter wines. Those who prefer bold dark roast coffees will like bold wines (usually reds). And those who prefer sweet coffee drinks like the Starbucks caramel macchiato or a flavored latte will gravitate toward sweeter, dessert-style wines.
The more types of coffee you like, the more types of wine you’ll like. Keep an open mind… and an open palate… and you’ll open yourself up to many new and delicious vinous experiences.