January 22, 2013

Review: Starbucks Guatemala Casi Cielo K-Cups


When Starbucks started releasing some of their seasonal coffees in K-Cup format last year, it got our hopes up that they’d eventually release ALL of their seasonal coffees as K-Cups. First came the excellent Anniversary Blend K-Cups quickly followed a few months later by the equally magnificent Christmas Blend K-Cups and our recent discovery during an in-shop visit proves that Starbucks Seasonals are going to be a common occurrence in the land of Keurig. This past week (Jan 14-18, 2013) saw the release of what we’re reviewing today: Starbucks Guatemala Casi Cielo K-Cups.

This is great news for Starbucks K-Cups fans and we couldn’t be happier. With a total of 3 seasonals within the past 4 or 5 months, it truly appears that Starbucks have decided to make their entire seasonal series in K-Cup format which means we’re in for some cups of awesome in the coming months ahead. Spanish for almost heaven, Casi Cielo has remained a favorite amongst fans and is a premium coffee harvested from the Antigua region of Guatemala. Billed by Starbucks as a medium roast & having hints of lemon with satisfying dark cocoa notes, we couldn’t wait to give this one a try. Lemon & dark cocoa? Not exactly 2 flavors you’d expect would pair well together, but Starbucks claims it’ll work for virtually any dish from the main meal to desserts.


Once again, Starbucks have given the packaging and foil lids special treatment for these K-Cups as fancy scroll work designs adorn the packaging while the primary flavor’s logo is replicated in gold foil on the matching K-Cup lid. As with their Christmas Blend, they’ve also decided to include the “vintage year” of 2013 on the packaging & lid as well.


Brewing these K-Cups resulted in strong dark cocoa aromas with smoky hickory notes and mild hints of earthiness in the background. Flavor was a pleasant match to what was described on the packaging. Things kick off with mild citrusy notes up front, then the acidity gives you a slight sour note like lemons and the grand finale is a mix of smoky notes topped off with dark cocoa that follows through to the aftertaste. Truly a remarkable taste experience which we could see pairing well with the aforementioned dishes. Foodies are once more in for a food-pairing treat and should have fun seeing what does (or doesn’t) pair well with this coffee. 

Body was dark brown in color with shades of orange & red tinged in hints of gold/amber around the edges when held in front of a light source. It reminded us of the color scheme used on the packaging, so kudos to that. Acidity in Starbucks’ seasonal K-Cups never ceases to amaze and catch us off-guard with the Casi Cielo being no exception. When we saw lemon mentioned as a flavor note, we were sure acidity would be ramped up but such wasn’t the case. Instead we got just enough to give us a hint of citrus while the remainder was surprisingly smooth while keeping things lively. Mouth feel was as pleasing as the acidity with a silky smooth texture and more dark cocoa notes in the aftertaste. 

  • Aroma – 10 – Strong dark cocoa notes with smoky hickory aromas are present with mild hints of earthiness in the background. We liked how the cocoa notes still managed to cut through the smoky aromas.
  • Acidity – 10 – Much like the other Starbucks seasonals, acidity was simply amazing. Just enough to give things a citrusy twist while the remainder is surprisingly smooth & lively. No harsh notes whatsoever.
  • Body – 10 – Dark brown with notes of orange & red tinged with hints of gold/amber when held to a light source. Reminded us of the colors used on the packaging.
  • Flavor – 10 – Mild citrus notes up front accentuated by the acidity which gives some sour lemon notes follow by some hints of smoke that culminate in more notes of dark cocoa that follow through all the way to the aftertaste. We can see how the citrus and cocoa notes would pair with a good variety of dishes.
  • Mouth Feel – 10 – Surprisingly smooth with a silky texture that had more dark cocoa notes in the aftertaste.
  • Coffee Drinker – Suited best for those who like mild citrusy coffees or those who like strong dark cocoa notes. If that’s your cup o’ Joe, then you’ll think these K-Cups are almost heaven indeed.

Overall Rating: 100 – Excellent!


This… this is simply unheard of… 3 separate seasonal coffees, all from Starbucks no less, ALL of which scored a PERFECT 100?!? What wondrous dimension of flavor did we get transported into? What splendid sorcery is this? Usually a coffee company has the damn near impossible capability of recreating a coffee as excellent as its best blend, but to do so 3 times in a row, one right after the other? Minds = blown. We often riff on Starbucks and jokingly call them Charbucks since most of their coffees have such a strong smoky dark roast taste with tons of oily notes throughout, but now that they’ve had lightning strike 3 TIMES in the same spot, we think it’s safe to say they slapped us upside the head so hard with their seasonal K-Cups that we’ll never doubt their ability to produce exceptional coffee again.

While some of their regular K-Cup line-up does sort of taste the same, we can DEFINITELY say that’s not the case with their seasonals as each seems to be exquisitely unique in its own rights. We’ve yet to try any of the Starbucks Reserve single-origin coffees, but if they ever decide to make those available in K-Cup format, we’ll be on them quicker than frost on an Alaskan windshield during winter. If the remainder of what’s to come is anywhere near as outstanding as what we’ve seen to date, truly epic things await those who dare seek them out in the coming months. Then only question that remains is when can we expect to see Vue Pack versions?

Starbucks Guatemala Casi Cielo K-Cups will work in all Keurig K-Cup brewers and are available at both American & Canadian Starbucks shops for a limited time in 12-packs for roughly $12.95 USD & CAD (Pricing may vary).

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 on our own for the purpose of this review.

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

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Posted by Jay Brewer at January 22, 2013 7:43 AM
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