I just bought a half-pound of Starbucks to get me through the snowstorm and gave their seasonal roast, Casi Cielo, a shot. I am legitimately impressed. I knew I was in for something different when the usual setting of "4" on my grinder was way too fine. The darker the roast, the finer the grind, and Starbucks ain't called Charbucks for nothing.
After two blown shots, I was amazed to find the coffee requiring a grind in the "8-9" range. Holy crap! So, I knew it was going to be different, but good? I was about to find out.
It's good! Like, really good! This is easily the best Starbucks coffee that I've ever tasted in espresso. Whereas other times, I bought Starbucks because my Black Cat hadn't arrived in time, or I was unable to make it to Updike's Newtowne or Coffee Exchange, with this, I don't feel as though I'm missing out by drinking it. It's very rich and smooth, always good for espresso, but actually has some fruity bite to it. It's an excellent choice for espresso, be it doubles or singles. I haven't tried a triple, but if it works in a double, it usually does well in a triple, too.
Now, I know that I'm late to the game with this. Starbucks introduced Casa Cielo over three years ago. But that knowledge only leaves me more confused. If Starbucks knows enough to make this, why haven't they applied this to their other coffees? Or their in-house espresso? While I still prefer my favorites (UpTowne, CofEx, and B-Cat), this is a legitimately good coffee and everything Starbucks makes should be like this.
Starbucks Casi Cielo Coffee: RECOMMENDED
And just for fun, here's a picture of some latte art that I poured into a cup of Casi Cielo. It was tasty.