April 18, 2012

Review: Starbucks Sumatra K-Cups

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The Sumatran region of Indonesia is famous for some of the dark roast coffees it produces and depending on how they're blended, the final results can be anywhere from earthy & herbal to sour & intense. We decided to see which route Starbucks decided to take and continue our Starbucks K-Cup reviews today with their Starbucks Sumatra K-Cups.

Brewing these K-Cups resulted in aforementioned earthy notes with subtle hints of herbal and even floral notes in background. Once again, cocoa is present but oddly enough, the smoky hickory notes seem subdued. Seeing as how this is a dark roast, we were expecting the exact opposite. Hmm... strange.


Body was dark brown with slight shades of orange & red when held in front of a light source, as expected. Acidity was certainly present but not as strong as expected. Rather than starting off with a sharp bite, it built-up from mild to strong on the finish.


Flavor was obviously a bit more intense than some of the other Starbucks K-Cups we've reviewed but revealed yet more of the same flavors that have become synonymous with Starbucks lately... dark chocolate/cocoa was predominant with a slight taste of smoky hickory in the background. Faint notes of molasses were buried underneath but unlike some other Sumatran coffees we've had, there didn't seem to be any sour/bitter flavors present. Mouth feel was smooth at first but became oily quite quickly and remained that way afterwards. Once again, we only detected the characteristic "burnt" notes of Starbucks coffees during the finish/aftertaste.

  • Aroma - 9 - It's beyond cliché now, but "signature Starbucks scent" was present here. We noticed earthy & herbal/floral notes and yet again, more cocoa notes were evident but oddly enough, a coffee we were expecting to have smoky aromas barely had any. Weird.
  • Acidity - 7 - Unlike previous flavors in the lineup, things start off mild and build their way up as you near the finish. Wasn't as strong as expected but still definitely present.
  • Body - 8 - Dark brown with slight shades of orange & red when held to a light source.
  • Flavor - 9 - Strong notes of dark chocolate/cocoa are dominant with slight notes of smoky hickory in the background with faints notes of molasses. The only thing that prevented a score of 7 or 8 in this category was the lack of sour notes which we've seen in previous Sumatran coffees.
  • Mouth Feel - 7 - Smooth at the beginning but quickly turned oily and remained that way. We don't care for oily coffees and were a bit put off by this. As with previous offerings in the line-up, the characteristic "burnt" notes only revealed themselves in the finish/aftertaste.
  • Coffee Drinker - Well, to be honest, this one's a bit of a head scratcher. While some dark roast fans will probably like this K-Cup, we think most dark roast fans will probably complain that it's too weak. We'd strongly recommend looking for a smaller 10-pack before buying a full box. If you don't like "oily" coffees, you should probably stay away from this one... otherwise, have at it.

Overall Rating: 90 - Exceptional

We came VERY close to rating this coffee as "Good" but the only thing that allowed it to squeak out an "Exceptional" rating was the lack of too many sour notes in the flavor. We're used to Sumatran coffees being sour/bitter but this one just seemed mostly full of dark chocolate with a dry taste instead. We can't recall the last time we've tried a Sumatra coffee with those characteristics and were frankly surprised to see that here.

As we said earlier, if you don't like oily coffees, you probably won't care too much for this one as the oils from the roast are quite present & almost overpowering. We can't help but wonder how potent or oily the French Roast is going to be, but all that taken into consideration, if you can bear the oily nature of this coffee & are looking for a Sumatra which isn't too sour, you might want to give this one a try.

Starbucks Sumatra 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 18, 2012 5:09 AM
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