Suzhou Café Review: Starbucks Reserve

By Tess Humphrys, July 11, 2018

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The Place

Suzhou is the latest location for Starbucks’ new initiative; upscale ‘Reserve’ outlets that sell more exotic, small-batch coffee blends. Those on offer here are processed in the massive Shanghai Roastery opened in 2017. 

The Drinks & Food

The menu is somewhat more complicated than at the regular Starbucks shop, and language barriers can make it difficult to choose from the fancy ways to brew your choice of beans. Currently, there are four blends on offer, which can be brewed using a traditional pour over or press-style method or the more mysterious Chemex and siphon methods. 

Slightly perturbed by the name Chemex, which turns out actually to be a specialized version of pour-over, we tried a cup of Hacienda Alsacia from Costa Rica, brewed using a siphon (RMB59), adding a black chocolate crown cake (RMB35) from the delectable-looking selection of desserts. 

It’s fun watching the barista work the lab instrument-like siphon, and the whole brewing process took about 10 minutes. Time, then, to sample the cake – which was tasty, but not as chocolaty as it looks. Other food options include a slightly increased range of Starbucks sandwiches and salads. Served in a stylish black mug on a wooden tray, the coffee had a refreshing bitterness, though it’s debatable whether it was worth the money. 

The Vibe

The impressive central bar area lets you get close to the brewing action, which certainly adds to the experiential vibe Starbucks is going for at the Reserve stores. Tastefully decorated in rich soft greys with shiny copper accents, it’s a pleasant place to hang out and for those who can’t resist merch, there are also lots of stylish products on offer.

Multiple locations, Starbucks.com.cn

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