The Starbucks Reserve Experience. Was It Worth It?

It’s overrated. You will pay $10 for a cup of coffee. The drinks are exactly the same as a regular Starbucks.

These are all comments I have heard about Starbucks Reserve, and ones that kept me from going for a long time; well until now. Of course, assumptions and negative comments affect what we consume, where we go, and how we live; but I decided to give Starbucks Reserve the benefit of the doubt.

As an avid coffee drinker, I do find myself looking for local coffee rather than visiting a Starbucks. Since they are on about every corner, I often pick up a cup of coffee from Starbucks out of convenience. I will say that every time I travel to Seattle, the place where the coffee giant originated, I always look to local coffee shops for a good latte.

While Starbucks does have some tasty drinks, I think the coffee can be hit or miss. Aside from human errors that affect the drinks, one of the most common critiques of Starbucks coffee is the bitter taste. It’s almost as if the beans are roasted a little too long. Regardless, I do drink Starbucks coffee fairly often and have found a few go-to drinks that I enjoy.

What’s The Deal with Starbucks Reserve?

In 2014, the very first Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room opened in Seattle. Since then, Starbucks has expanded these roasteries and bars across the world. Starbucks Reserve highlights the rarest, most unique coffee that Starbucks has to offer. Here customers can understand more about where the coffee is sourced and indulge in drinks that cannot be found in traditional Starbucks locations.

Starbucks Reserve is about more than simply coffee, it’s designed to be an experience. Roasting beans, brewing coffee, and carefully crafting signature beverages; Starbucks Reserve focuses on creating an atmosphere for those who want more than just the average coffee shop experience. Think about it like a winery, where you can see the source of the grapes and truly grasp the time and dedication it takes to produce a fabulous bottle of wine. At Starbucks Reserve, customers witness the transformation from coffee beans to a premium cup of coffee.

Was It Worth It?

It was 100% worth the visit.

I’m not going to lie, you will pay a premium for a drink from Starbucks Reserve. A regular Caffe Latte at Starbucks will run you anywhere from $3 to $5 depending on the size. At Starbucks Reserve, a Caffe Latte ranges from $4 to $5.50, and that does not include any syrups or other add-ons. You will notice even higher prices on the drinks that you cannot find at a traditional location.

I went into the experience knowing that I had to try an Affogato. For those who do not know, an Affogato consists of one or two shots of espresso poured over a scoop of ice cream. In addition to the Affogato, Starbucks Reserve serves several other drinks including ice cream, coffee flights, and more.

Aside from this drink combining two of my favorite things, I was thoroughly impressed. The ice cream is not overly sweet but compliments the espresso very well. As the ice cream melts, this delightful mixture of coffee and cream starts to form in the bottom of the cup. In my opinion, the espresso was more smooth and less bitter than what I have gotten from a regular Starbucks location.

The atmosphere in the Starbucks Reserve Bar differs from that of a traditional location from the menu to the coffee and more. This establishment is geared more toward those with a true appreciation for a premium cup of coffee rather than the occasional drinker. To get the full experience, I recommend finding a comfortable place to enjoy your coffee and observe the care and attention the baristas put into each drink.

In addition to the great atmosphere, our barista was also incredibly knowledgeable and explained the true differences between the traditional locations and a Starbucks Reserve. Next time, I definitely plan on trying the “Siphon Experience” which uses a siphon brewer to showcase the changes throughout the brewing process. This experience completely changed my assumptions about Starbucks Reserve and I fully intend to visit again in the future.

5 Things You Need for a Spooktacular Night In

It’s that time of the year where the weather cools down, the blankets come out, and pumpkin spice takes over the world. To me, fall means enjoying a good night indoors with my family, friends, or significant other. Here are five things to help you spend a Halloween-inspired night in:

1. Gather Your Favorite Candies

Regardless of age, I think everyone enjoys Halloween for one reason; the candy! Nowadays, there are so many different candy brands that it can be difficult to choose just one. Pick up a few bags of your favorite candies to indulge in throughout the night or invite some friends and do a candy exchange.

2. Prepare a Scary Good Meal

Cool fall weather calls for a warm, homemade meal. While you may not have all day to cook a pot roast, there are a bunch of quick, delicious meals to make for the occasion. For instance, pick up a couple pizza crusts and toppings to make personal pizzas for everyone to enjoy. If pizza isn’t your thing, check out these other scary good recipes.

3. Watch Spooky Movies

Whether you enjoy horror, animation, or thrillers; there are plenty of movies to help you get in the Halloween spirit. Netflix offers a variety of movies to choose from. Indulge in a spooky Netflix Original like Bird Box or have a Scream marathon; the choice is yours. If you don’t have any streaming services, check out Freeform’s 31 Nights of Halloween schedule to find the featured movie of the night.

4. Make a Cup of Hot Chocolate

Throughout the fall and winter I drink an excess of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. On a night in, I like to snuggle on the couch with a big mug of homemade hot cocoa and whipped cream. Want to know the best recipe for hot chocolate? You can find it on any can of Hershey’s Cocoa Powder. Give it a try and thank me later.

5. Decorate Pumpkins

Pumpkin decorating can be a fun activity for all ages. Grab some pumpkins, a carving set, and any other craft supplies to make the best jack-o-lantern on the block. Make it a group activity and challenge your friends to see who can carve the best pumpkin. Whichever way you slice it, pumpkin decorating is great way to get in the spooky spirit.

This list is not exhaustive and there are so many other fall-inspired activities to do throughout the season. Start fall off right by spending a fun night indoors making memories with the people you care about most.

Nothing Bundt Pumpkin Spice Goodness

I am not a Texas native. In fact, I spent most of my life in Southern California before making the big move. Getting acquainted with the new environment, I finally discovered Nothing Bundt Cakes and was instantly hooked.

Founded in Las Vegas, Nothing Bundt Cakes has changed the game for readily available, delicious cakes. From a full size bundt to the little bundtinis, Nothing Bundt Cakes are delicious. These cakes come in a variety of flavors like Red Velvet (my personal favorite), Lemon, and more. Want to know the best part of the experience? There are free samples available every time you visit!

In addition to the classic flavors, Nothing Bundt Cakes carries a seasonal flavor every month or so. Can you guess the fall flavor? Yes, of course it’s Pumpkin Spice. Now, I know that pumpkin spice has completely taken over the world, but pumpkin plus Nothing Bundt Cakes equals pure perfection in my mind so I had to try it.

The pumpkin spice cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes is absolutely to die for. Each bite of moist cake features a hearty pumpkin flavor with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. The cream cheese frosting piped on top compliments the cake perfectly, adding a new layer of texture and sweetness. This cake provides the fall flavors that we all know and love. Pair the bundt cake with a hot cup of coffee or tea and enjoy.

This fall favorite is only in stores for a limited time. Make sure to snag your own pumpkin spice bundt, bundtlet, or bundtini before time runs out!

The Truth About Pillsbury’s Place & Bake Brownies

We all know and love those delightful Pillsbury sugar cookies with festive designs perfect for nearly any holiday. Did you know Pillsbury recently debuted the latest product in a long line of quick, easy desserts?

Introducing the new Pillsbury Place & Bake Brownies.

These new Place & Bake Brownies make baking even more simple and include 12 brownie pieces ready to pop right in the oven without any mess. The brownies come in a few varieties: Chocolate Fudge, Peanut Butter, and Marshmallow. While I wanted to try all of them, I had to settle for the Chocolate Fudge brownies because my local Target did not carry the others. Regardless, I bought the brownies and headed home eager to test them out.

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This product is very similar to the other Pillsbury desserts in that they are ready to bake right out of the package. What I love most about Pillsbury is that even the most novice baker can make these desserts. Opening the package, it was interesting to see the brownie pucks all packed together. I resisted the urge to eat the brownie dough and moved on to breaking apart the brownie rounds and placing them in a muffin pan.

It does specify on the package that you should place the brownie rounds into baking cups, but of course I ran out, so half of the brownies had baking cups and the other half did not. In the end, this did not make a difference and I found the brownies easy to remove even without the baking cups. The package also says to bake the brownies at 350 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes; however, I let them bake a couple minutes longer because they were not completely done in the middle. I recommend baking the brownies for the initial 20 minutes and then adding time if necessary, as ovens may vary.

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Whether you enjoy baking or not, the Pillsbury Place & Bake Brownies are perfect if you need a quick dessert. Forget all the preparation time and dirty dishes, the Pillsbury Place & Bake Brownies provide a delicious treat without all the hassle. There are so many ways to spruce these brownies up including adding marshmallows, cookie dough, and more. I placed Oreo cookies under half of the brownies, and it was amazing! Even though I could not try the other variations, I will be on the lookout to try them in the future. I highly recommend you give these brownies a try on your next grocery trip.