Vancouver loves coffee – this is no secret. The ways coffee can be produced means coffee connoisseurs of different varieties exist. With no fewer than 5 coffee brewing methods at the new Starbucks Reserve Bar at Pacific Centre, chances are your preferred brewing method will be accommodated at this location, the largest Starbucks in Canada. A couple days ago I watched the siphon coffee experience in action and describe it in photos below.
Disclosure: I was invited to a media preview prior to the grand opening. All opinions are my own.
Siphon Coffee Experience:
Amongst brewing methods, time and gravity tend to be the main drivers of coffee. With siphon ($10), one adds an element of pressure-induced vacuums into the mix. A siphon coffee experience at Starbucks Reserve Bar starts with you meeting a Coffee Master, including a formal handshake and a welcome to a special edition Starbucks location.
This handshaking is pretty essential because the first step to a siphon is to heat up a volume of water atop a fancy heater (note: most home guides on the Internet simply substitute in a burner).
Once the water heats up, an upper vessel with a coffee filter is added on top, tilted at an angle to let the water continue to heat freely.
The Coffee Master appears to do everything without a thermometer which is pretty impressive. Once the water is close to boiling, the top vessel goes on for real and you can watch the boiling water from the bottom vessel get pushed upwards through the filter to the cooler climate of the upper vessel. Stirring happens pretty often now.
As the bottom vessel nears boiling out the remaining water, coffee grounds are stirred into the top vessel. The stirring process mixes the grounds into the water producing a coffee mixture.
With impeccable timing, the Coffee Master removes the entire siphon away from heat just as the bottom vessel finishes boiling out the water to the top vessel. More stirring commences, and then a vacuum takes over with the cooling air condensing steam into water, pulling the coffee through the filter in the top vessel and landing in the bottom vessel residue-free.
The final step of the brewing process is to let the remaining coffee drain and pour the contents of the bottom vessel into a serving pot which then pours into a glass and gets served on a Reserve Bar-branded tray.
The entire process takes about 10 minutes, most of which is spent watching water boil. During this time, you're treated to a pretty hospitable conversation with the Coffee Master. You're introduced to the small-lot coffee farm that worked with the Reserve Bar to produce the coffee beans and you can get to know the tasting notes of the coffee.
Starbucks Reserve Bar in CF Pacific Centre:
A quick look at Amazon at this point indicates an entry price of about $75 to get started with siphon brewing at home. However, the equipment at Starbucks Reserve Bar looks pretty legit, so I wouldn't fault you if you'd rather stop by the largest Starbucks in Canada. It just opened at CF Pacific Centre on December 10th 2018.
Here you'll find a gorgeous interior with lots of strong design accents and a stellar wall of coffee labels on the back wall that looks pretty impressive. I can't wait to see students flock in and cover the tables with a layer of textbooks and laptops.
It's at a Reserve Bar that you can also get your coffee served in an actual mug. My biggest gripe about most Starbucks locations is the reliance on paper cups for customers dining in. The Reserve Bar has a variety of glassware as evidenced by the Juniper Latte and Matcha Lattes shown below.
You can also get hot food at this Starbucks Reserve, and I'm not just talking pressed paninis. This mac and cheese was gooey and surprisingly al dente. My expectations for non-sandwiches at coffee shops are always low.
Despite the alternative brewing methods, you'll still have the entire Starbucks menu you're used to. Don't let the "Grande-only" prices of the big menu scare you. You can still order drinks in tall and venti sizes at the prices you're used to.
The main menu draw at a Starbucks Reserve Bar is the option to choose your brewing method using high-quality equipment and a high class of "Starbucks Experience". I've always been more of a sit-in kind of consumer so the glassware and finer ambiance of this location (and the location in Mount Pleasant) are right up my alley.
One-liner: A Starbucks Reserve Bar offers a wider variety of coffee options with legit glassware and a marvelous interior that makes regular coffee look luxurious
Highlight: Siphon Coffee Experience
Price per person: $3-$15
Would I go back? Yes.