Pros: Smooth, a bit creamy, basic in a good way, not bitter
Cons: Probably too basic for someone liking complexity in their coffee.
The Bottom Line: A perfect coffee if you don't want a mouthful of flavors. The best starter coffee (for new tasters) I've had so far.
Tens of millions Americans and a few hundred million people on the planet use coffee every day. We drink it too, but I think in reality most of us are users.
Of this massive number of coffee people, there is a large subset that drink “premium” coffees for lack of a better word—premium meaning single bean coffees or blends that do not use the oversized Arabica beans that make can/brick coffee so bitter and metallic.
Since the near universality of Starbucks (for a while there was a Starbucks in the Forbidden City in Beijing), another sizeable subset have moved from can/brick coffee to drinks containing some amount of premium bean coffee (lattes, cappuccinos, coffee buried in milk and sugar and caramel and other dessert “coffee-like” beverages). And another subset is curious to make the leap from can/brick or seriously doctored coffee to tasting the real, adult version of the daily fix.
Starbuck’s Sulawesi is the perfect coffee for a neophyte to try.
I was put off at first. When I bought my first pound, it was the only single bean coffee in the store. Sulawesi is an Indonesian coffee and I generally despise coffee from this region because of an endemic, strong bitterness. I’m not big on compromising by buying a blend, so I pulled up my big girl panties and tried it. I was very surprised.
Sulawesi tastes like coffee. That’s it. If I needed a baseline to describe the essential coffee taste—uncomplicated but fundamental, I’ve found it.
It is very smooth; it feels almost creamy in fact. There is very little acid in the bean compared with other coffees regardless of region. This means that the bitterness is slight, so the main flavor problem a neophyte would have is eliminated here. Further, there is no strong aftertaste.
I never drink my coffee very hot, it is usually a few steps higher than warm. I also continue to drink the coffee as it cools, never reheating it (that has ruined flavors for me). Unlike many of my standard favorites, the coffee never gets skunky as it cools.
I need to rate the coffee at 4 stars instead of the five I might give it because for a more seasoned coffee drinker, it may be boring to the palate. All the same, it has now become something I buy regularly.