•Komodo Dragon•

One of the best and most rewarding parts of being a Coffee Master for Starbucks is whenever I get the opportunity to share what I’ve learned to both my customers and my partners. I love being able to do public tastings, but there is something about helping a partner do their first tasting, a right of passage every partner is allowed during their training period.

For this tasting, I was inspired by a new product Starbucks began selling a few days ago: organic avocado spread. Because the spread is filled with subtle notes of spice and garlic, I figured it would pair perfectly with the Komodo Dragon blend, an Asian dark roast blend that I adore.

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The Komodo Dragon is an extremely powerful blend; like most roasts from the Asia/Pacific growing region, Komodo Dragon has the unique, spicy properties the land grants them. As soon as the water hits the fresh grounds, an aroma of Indonesian petrichor explodes from the brew, similar to a stroll through the deep forests of the growing region right after the rain. Komodo Dragon is a blend that will wake you up before you ever take the first sip, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. To any new partners out there: be sure to try Komodo Dragon in your stores today! Until next time, farewell.


•Iced Willow Lemonade•

If you are from the South, you most likely have a deep-rooted acceptance of our erratic weather patterns; Louisiana can and will try and fit all four seasons into one week, sometimes even in the same day. In addition to the making outfit choices unbearably difficult for everyone, the ever-changing temperature makes it very difficult to decide what kind of coffee you want to drink: Hot and steamy, or iced and refreshing?

Luckily for us, Spring has arrived and with it a near-constant wave of heat (our spring might as well just be referred to as ‘Colorful Summer’). Because of this, I thought I would reintroduce a mixed-coffee beverage I devised during my training to become a Coffee Master: Iced Willow Lemonade!Lemonade

This drink, similar to an Arnold Palmer, is made up of equal parts lemonade and iced coffee. I use the Willow Blend for the iced coffee due to the natural acidity of the blonde roast. Willow Blend also has, in my opinion, an extremely accurate name; the woody notes of the blend give a nice, earthy taste and pairs extremely with with the lemonade.

If you want a little extra kick to your beverage, this drink tastes amazing with muddled blueberries and gin. It becomes the perfect drink for a hot summer day, whether it be poolside or just on your front porch. Paired with an Iced Lemon Pound Cake and some fresh blueberries, you simply cannot go wrong. Hope you all enjoy it! Until next time.

•Sun-Dried Ethiopia Sidamo•

I cannot even begin to describe how excited I was to learn that this blend of coffee was coming to regular, non-reserve Starbucks locations. Unlike standard blends, such as Veranda, Espresso, and Breakfast, which consist of beans from various locations all roasted together to create a specific taste, reserve coffee is coffee that comes from a single origin point, and due to its rarity, is sold primarily online and in special reserve coffee locations.

Occasionally, however, certain reserve coffees will makes its way to all stores due to some type of promotion, in this case, the Sun-Dried Ethiopia Sidamo blend is being promoted due to its incredible popularity and its connections to the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, something I’ll touch upon another day.

But this blend, oh this blend. It is incredible. As soon as you open the package, a wave of dark chocolate and pepper hits the back of your palette. The aroma is enough to wake you

A typical set-up display of the Sun-Dried Ethiopia Sidamo blend found in most Starbucks locations.
up from a groggy day, but when brewed, nothing compares to it.

Because of this blend’s unique sun-dried (natural) method of washing, in which it is laid out in the sun whilst still inside the coffee cherries, it absorbs all the flavor of its fruit, providing the drinker with a rich, juicy taste of chocolate and fruit. Because this coffee takes on the natural flavors of the coffee cherry, I would highly recommend pairing it with a piece of Ghirardelli Intense Dark Cherry Chocolate (Ghirardelli has many, many chocolate flavors that pair well with coffee blends, definitely a go-to brand of mine).

Pick up a pound of Sun-Dried Ethiopian Blend coffee as soon as you can. Because of the nature of reserve coffee, it won’t be on the shelves for very long, and if you are a true coffee drinker, you shouldn’t go without having tasted this blend. Until next time, farewell. 

~A Study In Thought~

I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately: school, life, work, family, friends, death, the future. No matter how hard I try to clear my mind, an infinite number of thoughts cloud my psyche. My depression is rearing its ugly head again, and I find myself worrying about needless things once again. I’ve always felt that my creativity and imagination was a great asset of mine but sometimes it just leads to unnecessary stress when I think too much about things that aren’t there.

In order to stave off the boredom, and the writer’s block that my whirlwind of emotions tend to lead me to, I decided it would be best to type this post in the Starbucks I work at. I know

Hot Chocolate will always the perfect drink for thinking thoughts.

what you’re thinking: “You go to work on your days off?” Yes, as lame as it sounds I tend to find myself constantly drifting to this little café almost every day, regardless of whether or not I’m working (this is a phenomena that occurs to most baristas, I promise). Something about the aromas wafting around the little niches of the lobby and the clattering of milk pitchers calms me down and clears my mind. This Starbucks has truly been my home for the last year and a half, and I think its my go-to place to think all of my thoughts away.

So to the people who find themselves reading this post (seriously, thank you guys for taking the time out to read these), how do you go about clearing your mind of the clutter that fills it? Any places you tend to find yourself, activities that you do to ease the day-to-day monotony? Be sure to let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you all. I hope your days are treating you well, and your coffee is as strong as God Himself. Until next time, farewell.

~A Study In Death~

Yesterday, a friend of mine passed away after a three-year battle with cancer. She is the second friend I have lost these last two years, and it is no way easier to process the pain I feel. So being a writer, I decided the best way to handle this would be through my words. 

Coffee has, for centuries, played a gigantic role in many aspects of people’s lives. In particular, coffee always seems to show up in places of social gatherings. And in the South, there may not be a more culturally significant gathering of people than at a wake or a funeral. 

Long believed to have restorative properties (which, thanks to science, we now know as caffeine), coffee has the ability to bring life back into people on the brink of exhaustion. I think this is why it always seems to be present at events surrounding the death of others. 

Coffee has definitely provided me comfort these last two days, and I’ve been inspired to do more research on this topic. Perhaps I’ll revisit this “Study in Death” some day. Until then, I bid you all ado. 

*In Memory of Lupe Lara. May you join the Stars*

Photograph by my friend, Elise Granier

•Rwanda Hingakawa•

So the very first international coffee I’ll be covering in the blog is the Rwanda Hingakawa blend. 

Named after the women of the Gakende District of Rwanda’s Northern Province, Hingakawa is the embodiment of women and coffee.

 Balanced by it’s subtle floral notes of lavender, honeysuckle, and peach, Rwanda Hingakawa’s medium taste provides a soft, pleasing taste to the palette. Rwanda Hingakawa pairs extremely well with vanilla flavoring, and I highly recommend drinking it with a vanilla bean scone. Hope you enjoy it!

~A Study In Leaves~

During my training as a Coffee Master, I also had to study a ton about tea. Well, not so much had to as wanted to, but studying tea has helped me a ton with identifying the flavors found in coffee. One important taste factor I discovered when researching teas was the difference between whole leaf teas and bag teas.

Whole leaf teas are teas that are left ungrounded, and release a remarkable amount of flavor notes that are lost in the grinding process. Bagged teas, on the other hand, are heavily processed, and more often than not are simply the dusty, tea-leaf remnants at the bottom of tea barrels. While bags are certainly convenient, and more popular in cafe industries, whole leaf teas will almost consistently provide a richer, more flavorful journey for any avid tea drinker.

Sadly, bagged black tea never truly gives a full flavor profile.

~A Study In Foam~

My Very First Successful Tulip

Latte art, originating in Seattle, Washington, has become a form of competitive art experienced by baristas around the world. Created when the heavy microfoam of steamed milk blends with shots of espresso, competitions are hosted around the world to discover the best of the best latte artists. In particular, Japanese and Korean cultures study latte art intensively, classes available to teach those interested how to create everything from hearts and tulips of swans and scorpions.

I began doing latte art a few months ago, mainly so that I could tell whether or not I was foaming the milk correctly. A properly made latte, one that tastes perfect in every way, should always be able to yield some form of art, whether that be a tulip or even something simpler, like a round, white dot. Next time you go to your local coffee shop, ask your barista if they can make latte art. If they can, I guarantee you will make their day a little brighter.


Welcome to Malawi and Magnolias, an online diary of a barista battling an endless desire to travel. Being a college student, I rarely have the means (or the money) to travel everywhere I would like to go, but a year ago I discovered a unique way to explore the cultures of the world: Coffee!

calebWorking for Starbucks, I was allowed to pursue and obtain a certification known as Coffee Master, and while I successfully completed the initial certification process, the knowledge I gained and the passion I ignited led me down an endless path of growth. Knowing this is just the beginning for me, my dream is to travel around the world, studying the culture of places I journey to through their coffee. No matter where this journey takes me, however, I’ll always have a deep love for the South.

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope that you will continue on and join me on my journey around the world, filling out our Coffee Passports along the way and learning a little more about Southern culture.