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A Confession, A Rare Coffee, & A Must-Compare Mocha Match-Up

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
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Are you looking for the nearly-ultimate convenience with your coffee drinking experience for the best possible taste? If so, then here’s the latest on why you should trust the writer, have rare coffee delivered to your door, and discover the winner in a coffee mocha match-up.

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A Coffee Confession

I have a confession to make, and I figure I might as well get it out in the open because it will eventually become that caffeinated white elephant in the room that readers will wonder about on where I stand when it comes to Starbucks.

Yes. I do drink Starbucks coffee…occasionally, and it has the complexity of a toxic dating relationship.

First, there was the 90’s when I first became acquainted with the rush of traveling to scientific meetings. Every morning in some new city it was a quick grab for a cheese Danish or bagel, and a hot venti mocha to fuel me for a morning crammed with some pretty heady research. It was all new and exciting. It felt cosmopolitan. And I wouldn’t trade the experience and memories for the world.

By the early 2,000’s, it was at least a weekly trip to Starbucks using it as a potential client meet-and-greet office while living the freelance writer life. I drank a lot of Starbucks coffee back then, and generated a number of published articles.

Today, I go to Starbucks for only 3 reasons: to stay awake while on the road; to use their restroom; and whenever I have this nagging taste every now and then like a bad kiss from yesteryear that calls to me. I warned you it was a toxic relationship.

Call me a conspiracist, but I have a sneaky suspicion that there are additives in their coffee that makes people like me come back for more…even though we know better. When you consider how additives have been used in the tobacco and food industry for years, it follows that commercial chain store coffee is likely no different. But I digress.

The point of this confession is that I want others who read my reviews to understand that I hold no allegiance to any one coffee brand. I am not compensated or encouraged (nor discouraged) by anyone on what I have to say about coffee (at least not yet). I am not a coffee purist or a coffee ascetic; Although I do appreciate that there exist such coffee drinkers. I believe in free will when it comes to coffee; I try my best to not take sides. And, I can resist anything but temptation.

As I’ve said before, to me coffee is more about the experience than it is about the taste. It slows down time while it quickens our pulse. It brings back memories and promises future possibilities. And it buffers the madness that surrounds us.

Even Coffee Comes With a Patron Saint and a Prayer

What got me thinking about this caffeinated white elephant in the room was an article I read about a study reporting that in the U.S., nearly four out of every five coffee shops are either a Starbucks, a Dunkin’ Donuts or a JAB Holding investing firm that owns the multiple smaller coffee related businesses like Panera Bread, Peet’s and Caribou.

In other words, not unlike the mom and pop bookstores of yesteryear losing out to the big chains, the smallest coffee shops where you might find the biggest flavor have rough times ahead of them—especially in light of COVID-19.

But the risk of going the way of the mom and pop bookstore might not be such a bad thing, because crisis is the mother of innovation.

What’s especially interesting, is that large companies have to show growth. Which is difficult in a market that’s saturated. One way around this is to introduce new products that capture the current customer base and new acolytes. One recent example of this was the introduction of cold brew coffee that turned out to create a new following of coffee drinkers.

But what’s to come after the cold brew coffee begins to lose its appeal? Some speculate that the vision of finding other products to further increase growth is projected to fall upon the idea of offering specialty coffee to their consumers. In other words, better or different beans offering a new flavor to coffee drinkers wanting that something more in next year’s cup of coffee.

As it turns out, a business called SLURP Coffee is offering a multiroaster subscription platform that offers a new program called “Slurp Rare.” Slurp Rare is focused on bringing to subscribers doorsteps, exclusive high-end coffees with unique flavor profiles. Slurp Rare coffees are roasted in Stockholm, Sweden, and then shipped across the globe on the same day.

According to a recent Roast magazine article about the subscription service:

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“Now each month through Slurp Rare, subscribers receive a 100-gram bag of an exclusive, high-end coffee roasted…along with a brew guide, a note from the roaster and a newsletter with comprehensive information on the coffee variety, production and processing details, and the farm and producer from which it came. Customers in the United States can expect to receive their coffees from overseas less than two weeks off roast. The monthly subscription cost, which includes a 100-gram (3.52-ounce) bag of Slurp Rare coffee is € 27.9 (about $31 USD as of this writing), with free shipping.”

This is exciting stuff for coffee drinkers looking for more. Which brings me back to coffee’s Giant Three and the mom and pop coffee shops. One fault they both share is that typically they each have their own signature flavor. And when they do, the palate eventually tires of it and starts roaming the back alleyways looking for something else, something new, something fresh…it’s human nature.

And that, is my true confession—even though I’ve been told that I make very good coffee, I find myself sick of it and dream that someone, somewhere will make a cup of their own concoction just for me…just for the experience.

Approach Your Coffee Like A Shave In The Morning

The Mocha Match-Up

As promised, here is a sip-by-sip comparison between Starbuck’s bottled Mocha Frappuccino and Pete’s Coffee Iced Espresso Mocha

I chose to pit these two against each other because I am already very familiar with Starbucks Frappuccino as it is what I call my “comfort coffee” when I am too lazy to brew my own or in just too big of a rush and need convenience in a bottle. I wanted to match it against Pete’s Coffee Iced Espresso Mocha because they are similar enough in what they offer and also because Pete’s Coffee beans have been my primary staple for my espresso machine for the past 2 years. This is my first experience with Pete’s Coffee Iced Espresso Mocha.

Firstly, Starbucks comes in a bottle, whereas Peet’s is in a can. My preference is always for a bottle over a can because of a typical “tinny” taste in the background.

However, although the Starbucks is 1.5 fluid ounces more than Peet’s, it is disproportionately high in total fat content in comparison. But more significantly, Starbucks has almost twice the amount of sugar. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Starbucks Frappuccino is 190 calories compared to Peet’s Iced Mocha’s 110 calories. Regarding caffeine content: Starbucks has 80 mg of caffeine and Peet’s has 100 mg of caffeine.

The Taste Test

The Mocha Match-Up Comparison Taste Test

I like Starbuck’s bottled Mocha Frappuccino. It does not have the burnt bean taste of a typical Starbucks coffee; But that could be a sugar mask since Starbucks has almost twice the sugar. To my surprise, however, I now prefer the Pete’s Coffee Iced Espresso Mocha. Not only because it is less sweet and fewer calories (and more caffeine), but the chocolate taste is different—almost a malted chocolate taste rather than a milk chocolate taste found in Starbucks. Other than that, they are fairly similar and a fair comparison.

If you either love or hate Starbucks coffees, let us know—and why—in the comments section below.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between coffee and healthy living. For continual updates about the benefits of coffee on your health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Images courtesy of Pixabay and the writer.

References:

Slurp Rare Subscription Focuses On Competition-Level Coffees” by Howard Bryman June 29, 2020 Daily Coffee News by Roast magazine.

Nearly Four of Every Five US Coffee Shops are Now Starbucks, Dunkin’ or JAB Brands” by Nick Brown Oct. 25, 2019 Daily Coffee News by Roast magazine.

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