The process involves using unroasted small-lot Rwandan coffee beans that are hand-scooped into oak barrels that first held bourbon, then used to age gin by local craft distillery Big Gin in Seattle.
“We started with the coffee, our bright and lively Rwandan beans,” says Jennifer Galbraith, Starbucks manager of product development for R&D. “The beans absorb the botanical essence of the gin, bringing out its bright citrus notes with a sweet caramel finish. The resulting cup is rich, nuanced, and unlike anything we’ve tasted before.”
The sparkling new non-alcoholic beverage is a twist on the classic gin and tonic. The slow-steeped Gin Barrel-Aged Rwanda coffee concentrate, ice, and a few dashes of lime bitters are all shaken together, then finished with tonic and a lime garnish.
“When you go to take your first sip, you’ll smell the quinine from the tonic and the botanicals from the gin and the coffee,” Galbraith says. “Then you taste the orange and lemon, finishing with caramel notes from the coffee and the barrel. It weaves together like a piece of fabric and leaves you with a light, refreshing flavor.”
For now, the Starbucks Reserve Gin Barrel-Aged Cold Brew and whole-bean coffee is only available at the Reserve Roastery, for a limited time.