Coffee Review: Starbucks Guatemala Casi Cielo – 2018 Passport Series

I was picking up a drink at Starbucks and noticed there was a new displayer about the new Passport Series, the displayer has a tag line “Familiar favourites. New discoveries.”. I asked the barista about it but she didn’t seem to know a lot, other than “it came in last night”. From what I can understand, the Passport Series will be a seasonal offering. There are 4 varieties in this series and the Guatemala Casi Cielo is the first of the four.

Normally I don’t pay attention to Starbucks bagged coffee because they are not great (in my opinion), the quality of the beans are inconsistent and they are mostly burnt. Starbucks also adds their signature caramel flavor to it and I cannot taste the differences. Even their Reserve brands are using fewer single origins and they are a little more expensive 🤑 than I want to pay.

The Guatemala Casi Cielo caught my attention because:

Single Origin ✔️
Central America ✔️
Medium Roast ✔️
Seasonal Harvest ✔️
$19 a pound!! ✔️

This coffee has many of the characters of the Reserve brand, yet it is priced under $20. I was skeptical since it is “limited”, I cannot afford to let this go. I used a pour-over on it and it was excellent. I am going to use an Aeropress at the home lab….

Going through the usual procedures, I use 20g of beans with 200g of water. Water temperature is set to 96C. In the pre-infusing stage, the bloom is quite visible and smells like cocoa. As I pour more water into the bloom is growing quicker. I have to slow down the pour to prevent over-flow. As I stir the coffee, I can smell the sweetness of citrus and the chocolate all together very well balanced.

The reverse Aeropress is easy and effortless, I prefer it more due to the immersive brewing. After giving it a few small sip, I find the Aeropress version offers a much more flavorful cup. To be honest, I find each version has it’s own advantage. The pour-over extraction is quicker and it gives it a deeper citrus taste versus the Aeropress gives it a kick of coffee bitterness.

Overall, this coffee is one of the best I have had from Starbucks that I would like to get some more. It is very bright, well balanced, great body and easy to drink. The citrus/lemon profile and the cocoa is a great combination. I would recommend this.