Re­serve – in a league of its own

> Star­bucks Re­serve Stores set to take the cof­fee drink­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to the next level

The Sun (Malaysia) - - MEDIA & MARKETING -

DID you know that Star­bucks Malaysia has a Re­serve Store at the Gar­dens Mall? It of­fers “re­serve or lim­ited-time only” cof­fees be­sides reg­u­lar items on its menu.

One of its kind here in Malaysia for now, its in­te­ri­ors de­pict lit­tle lux­u­ries and small hints of re­splen­dent wooden fur­nish­ings that give an air of a slightly el­e­vated cosy com­fort, un­like its reg­u­lar out­lets. Here, you can en­gage with cof­fee mas­ters over a cuppa, who share a cof­fee ex­pe­ri­ence quite un­like any other ... it’s mag­i­cal.

LIM­ITED-TIME-ONLY COF­FEES Al­ready savoured by many is the Colom­bia La Union 16 cof­fee, the re­sult of ex­tra­or­di­nary beans grown in the town of La Union in Narino. The place of ori­gin it­self is ideal for cof­fee cul­ti­va­tion, sit­u­ated along the equa­tor on high al­ti­tudes in tem­per­a­tures that swing dur­ing the day and night.

A cof­fee rel­e­vant with a clean and al­most sweet cit­rus acid­ity, with a light, del­i­cate body, La Union 16 of­fers one a lovely cuppa that is easy to drink, en­cir­cling zesty, fresh, herb notes that can be en­joyed what­ever your mood. Have it over a book or share it with oth­ers at cosy gath­er­ings - it pairs well with a slice of Star­bucks Lemon Cheese Slice.

An­other “Re­serve” brew Star­bucks cof­fee fans can look for­ward to is the Rwanda Abakun­dakawa cof­fee, cul­ti­vated from a small farm in Rwanda. The word “Abakun­dakawa” trans­lates to “those who love cof­fee”. It de­picts the women of the Ak­abun­dakawa farmer co-op (Fair Trade Cer­ti­fied) who are mak­ing their mark in the cof­fee world, rep­re­sent­ing al­most half of the coop mem­ber­ship. This spe­cial cof­fee rem­i­nisces the past of a peo­ple who went through the civil war. Its aroma sug­gests black tea and smokey scents fused with caramel and light cit­rus hints. It is grown on el­e­vated vol­canic soil and has cap­tured the at­ten­tion of ma­jor cof­fee roast­ers around the world. When had with Star­bucks Or­ange Pop­ping Cake (Hal­loweenin­spired), the com­bi­na­tion sim­ply “sends you to heaven and back”.

Yes, it is that good. And be­cause th­ese two Re­serve cof­fees are pur­chased in small batches, they are only avail­able un­til stocks last. Mean­ing, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Exclusive? Def­i­nitely! While the for­mer is al­ready avail­able at the Star­bucks Re­serve Store at the Gar­dens Mall, the lat­ter will soon be, from Novem­ber.

THE BODY, HEART AND CORE Giv­ing a run­down on Star­bucks Re­serve Stores and Star­bucks Malaysia’s forth­com­ing plans is the com­pany’s Malaysia and Brunei man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Syd­ney Quays.

Quays re­it­er­ates that the Re­serve outlet at the Gar­dens Mall is the sole Star­bucks Re­serve Store ... but not for long. “More Re­serve stores are slated to be opened. We’re look­ing at about 10 in all, over the next five years,” he in­forms.

While in all, there are some nearly 250 Star­bucks Cof­fee out­lets through­out Malaysia, Quays ex­plains the con­trast in the sloth­like and some­what stag­ger­ing set-up of Star­bucks Re­serve Stores. “There is a lot more work that goes into the open­ing of a Re­serve store. We need to build up our ‘cof­fee base’ first,” Quays states, im­ply­ing that reg­u­lar out­lets some­what pro­vide sup­port in the es­tab­lish­ment of a Re­serve store.

“At the mo­ment we have 227 stores (and count­ing) that are op­er­a­tional. Our tar­get is 300 by year-end.

“Mon­e­tary-wise, its costs be­tween RM900,000 and RM1.2 mil­lion to open a Re­serve store – tak­ing into ac­count the size, lo­ca­tion and fur­nish­ing. But look­ing beyond the fi­nan­cial as­pect is train­ing of ‘part­ners’, which re­quires time and ef­fort.

“Yes, cof­fee is im­por­tant at Star­bucks, be­ing the main prod­uct, but the peo­ple mak­ing and serv­ing, the hands that help cre­ate the en­tire ‘cof­fee ex­pe­ri­ence’ is as, if not more, im­por­tant ... to a cer­tain ex­tent,” shares Quays.

“Cof­fee mas­ters can­not be hired. They have to be groomed and trained. They need to work with Star­bucks ground up, learn the ropes and com­pete to be­come cof­fee ambassadors be­fore earn­ing the ti­tle cof­fee mas­ter. Pre­sen­ta­tion skills are im­por­tant, apart from a whole lot of knowl­edge, un­der­stand­ing and shar­ing all th­ese to make a com­plete cof­fee ex­pe­ri­ence for cus­tomers.”

GOOD PEO­PLE, GREAT COF­FEE The pride of Star­bucks Malaysia stands in its 4,000 “part­ners” (em­ploy­ees). Of this, more than 350 have spent hours learn­ing, com­pet­ing and com­plet­ing ex­ams to take on the cof­fee mas­ter’s ti­tle. “You can’t train some­one to be­come a cof­fee mas­ter overnight. It takes time and in­volves a lot of learn­ing - class­room and on the floor, be­hind the cof­fee counter ... about 1.5 years at least,” in­forms Quays. Th­ese and more give rea­son to the rather slow set-up of 10 Re­serve stores across five years com­pared to the rapid open­ing of Star­bucks reg­u­lar stores around the coun­try – “on av­er­age, 25 a year,” re­veals Quays.

None­the­less, in the pipe­line are Re­serve stores that will soon be open­ing its doors to wel­come Star­bucks’ fans and cof­fee con­nois­seurs at Sky Av­enue Mall in Gent­ing High­lands. This will be fol­lowed by Re­serve stores in Pe­nang, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Jo­hor, Ipoh and other lo­ca­tions/ towns (in no par­tic­u­lar or­der).

“In KL, it will prob­a­bly be within a her­itage build­ing as this nicely rep­re­sents the unique­ness of cof­fees or­dered in small batches and avail­able only un­til stocks last. It also rep­re­sents cof­fee steeped in history and a story to tell.

“It’s not about just drink­ing cof­fee any­more. We re­alised that in cof­fee drink­ing, in­ter­ac­tion is im­por­tant,” Quays says.

Star­bucks Malaysia also has plans to in­tro­duce more in­no­va­tive brew­ing styles and ed­u­cate the peo­ple about cof­fee and the in­ter­est­ing in­for­ma­tion one can learn and ap­pre­ci­ate about it. For now, call up the Star­bucks Re­serve Store at Gar­dens Mall and check when their cof­fee mas­ters are in. Then en­gage with them over a cuppa of the two lim­ited-time brews and learn how to talk cof­fee like a boss.

Visit the Star­bucks Malaysia web­site or its Face­book page for more in­for­ma­tion.

From left: A Star­bucks Malaysia ‘part­ner’, Quays and cof­fee mas­ter Aye­sha show­cas­ing the Colom­bia La Union 16 and Rwanda Abakun­dakawa lim­ited-time-only brews served at Star­bucks Re­serve Store, Gar­dens Mall.

Star­bucks Re­serve Store an­niver­sary mer­chan­dise and a cake slice and condi­ments to en­hance the cof­fee ex­pe­ri­ence.

Cof­fee pre­pared us­ing the pour over method.

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