April 16, 2012

Review: Starbucks Pike Place Roast K-Cups

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Starbucks got their start back in 1971 in Seattle, Washington. Their first store opened on Western Ave. and was later relocated to Pike Place in 1976 where it remains to this day. Despite being the 2nd store to bear the name, many still consider this to be the 1st and longest-operating Starbucks location in the World. Today we continue our Starbucks K-Cups review series with a K-Cup which was named after this historic location: Starbucks Pike Place Roast K-Cups.

Something we've noticed with the Starbucks K-Cups is that the aroma during brewing seems fairly consistent with only intensity & some subtle nuances being the key differences. Such is the same here as brewing these K-Cups resulted in the signature Starbucks aroma filling the room once again. A closer inspection of the final brewed cup revealed smoky notes of hickory in the foreground with scents of cocoa underneath. We also detected a slight oily characteristic present in the aroma at times.


Body had plenty of reddish hues at all times and kept reminding us of similar color notes which would be present in a glass of red wine. There were colors of medium brown with notes of burnt sienna present and bursts of deep red revealed themselves when held in front of a light source. Acidity was present with a sharp bite at first which quickly mellowed in the middle only to come back slightly in the finish. Definitely noticeable, but not too distracting.


Flavor seems to have quite a bit going on as we detected a wide range of tastes starting with the usual notes of cocoa/chocolate which were blended with slight hints of molasses hiding underneath. As expected, we got smoky hickory flavors which even had very faint nuances of licorice at times with a slight overall earthiness to the cup. Mouth feel was smooth with a light oily feel overall and we only detected a predominance of the "burnt" notes during the aftertaste which lingered on for quite a while afterwards.

  • Aroma - 10 - Once again, signature Starbucks aroma during brewing, closer inspection revealed notes of cocoa & smoky hickory with a slight oily scent at times.
  • Acidity - 8 - Sharp bite at first which quickly mellowed only to come back again on the finish.
  • Body - 9 - Medium brown with an almost wine-like appearance. Light reddish tinges with notes of burnt sienna with shades of deep red when held in front of a light source.
  • Flavor - 10 - Nicely complex, lots going on here. As with other Starbucks K-Cups, we continue to detect cocoa/chocolate & hickory with hints of molasses, but we detected faint tastes of licorice and a slightly stronger earthiness overall than before. Very pleasing.
  • Mouth Feel - 8 - Smooth with a light oily feel overall. You only get the overly "burnt" notes in the aftertaste which seems to linger on longer than previous offerings in this line-up.
  • Coffee Drinker - This one falls in the middle as medium roast in Starbucks line-up and we feel it's a well-rounded contender for your average Starbucks fan. If you like bold medium roasts or are a casual dark roast drinker, you'll probably enjoy this. If you've been living under a rock & haven't tried Starbucks coffee before, we suggest starting here before jumping head-first into their darker roasts.

Overall Rating: 95 - Excellent

Overall, we know we're going to get mixed reactions to this review just as we did for some of the other flavors we recently reviewed in this line-up. We'll have some folks that will say "once you've tried Starbucks coffee, they're all the same" while you'll have others that claim there's only 1 particular roast/flavor that's worth trying and you'll have more that will say they just can't stand the burnt notes in Starbucks coffee and steer clear away from it as much as possible. We understand those reactions and hey, everyone's entitled to their own opinion. After all, we base our reviews on our own tasting experiences and nobody experiences coffee the same way, so there are bound to be things we detected that others won't & vice-versa.

All that taken into consideration, we really enjoyed this K-Cup and thought it was a well-rounded addition to the other Starbucks K-Cups we recently reviewed. Do we think Starbucks has maybe a few too many similar choices on their coffee menu? Of course, but it's always better to have more choices than none at all. We liked how this coffee seemed to fall in the middle where it wasn't too intense yet didn't seem too weak. We liked the ongoing flavors of cocoa & hickory which seem to be Starbucks signature "taste" across their range and think this flavor is worth a try. If Starbucks decided to name it after their longest-operating & most famous location, they must have done so for a reason. We think this flavor is one that will appeal to most average Starbucks fans and is worth a spot on anyone's weekly morning line-up of coffee selections.

Starbucks Pike Place Roast K-Cups will work in all Keurig brewers and are available in 16-packs for $13.98 USD at Wal-Mart in USA or 10-packs for $10.99 CAD at various grocery stores across Canada. Some Starbucks shops in USA & Canada might also be selling these K-Cups.

A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review. We would also like to note that we purchased a box of these K-Cups ourselves for the purpose of this review.

Read how we review and rate single-serve coffee and other single-serve coffee beverages here.

Read More in: K Cup Reviews | Keurig & K-Cups | Reviews | Starbucks Single Serve Coffee

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Posted by Jay Brewer at April 16, 2012 5:43 AM
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