We sit here in Austin, Texas, the last place one might expect a small batch, upscale coffee bar. As we sip on a Vanilla Crème Anglaise Macchiato and Juniper Latte, we pour over their special reserve menu. You won’t find your typical frappuccino on the menu here. They have more than 6 ways to brew and serve coffee at the Reserve Bar. Clover brewed, pour-over, cold brew, coffee press, nitro cold brew, and the two coolest ones, in my opinion, Chemex and Siphon.
This location, as well as the other Reserve locations, are easily 2-3 times as big as your typical Starbucks. All Starbucks Reserve Bars in the country, in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and now Austin, are modeled after the revered Roastery in Seattle. Starbucks reps emphasize the Reserve Bars’ “sensory experiences” and “intention,” which can feel a little hollow until you walk up to the bar yourself. When the baristas swizzle, steam and shake your drinks, both hot and cold, you can’t help but feel like you’re sitting in a front-row seat at a show. Coffee geeks are welcome to debate the differences in taste between coffee brewed via siphon and Chemex with the baristas.
Besides the size, design, and menu, even the cups are different and you won’t find a green apron here either. Look out for the Coffee Master behind the bar, they have gone through an extensive program and are the most knowledgeable about coffee.
One of Starbucks’ newest editions to the Reserve Bar menu is the Nitro Cascara Cloud. The coffee giant has been utilizing the dried fruit of the coffee cherry in several of its new drinks this year, including the Cascara Latte. This drink is made with nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee, vanilla bean syrup and a cold foam that is made with milk and cascara syrup. It’s topped with cascara sugar. For coffee fans, this drink is supposed to have a dark chocolate body with hints of berry and a rich, port-like flavor, according to the company.
Earlier this year, Starbucks introduced the Melrose, the coffee chain’s play on a Manhattan, to its Roastery locations. The drink is made with cold brew and cherry bitters and topped with a maraschino cherry. The company said that this beverage has gained a loyal following among customers. It is available in select Reserve Bar locations.
While most “dirty chai” drinks are made with a chai tea latte and a shot of espresso, Starbucks’ take on the beverage is made with a blend of chai and milk and topped with the chain’s Nitro Cold Brew.
Starbucks tested affogato, an Italian-style dessert in which a scoop of ice cream is “drowned” in a shot of hot espresso, in 10 Reserve coffee bars and several Starbucks stores in February. As part of that test, the chain also offered the Cold Brew Float. This beverage is made with Starbucks Reserve Cold Brew and a scoop of ice cream from the Mora Iced Creamery, a creamery in Bainbridge, Washington.
At the Reserve bar, baristas are also bartenders. Although these drinks are alcohol-free they are based on traditional bar favorites. Along with the Melrose, Starbucks’ play on a Manhattan, the Seattle location also serves up and Emerald City Mule and a Cascara Lemon Sour. The Emerald City Mule contains ginger beer, burnt cinnamon syrup, fresh lemon and cold brew, and is topped with an apple slice. The Cascara Lemon Sour is cold brew shaken with Woodinville Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup and fresh lemon. It is garnished with a Luxardo cherry and Cascara sugar.
Curious for more info about Starbucks Reserve? Watch the video below!