The official holiday pour of your red-cup refill, Reserve Christmas Blend is a medium roast that comes through very mild—perhaps even watery. More charitably, you might call it thin-bodied by design to stay drinkable for decaf types fueling up for, or from, a long day of exploring a city on their winter break. If you don’t usually drink coffee, here’s one that won’t clobber your palate, though you’ll still get your caffeine fix. However, java heads won’t find much to cheer their Christmas in the low-test stuff.
The taste gets off to a soft start, with nothing at the forefront beyond a woodsy aroma more evident on the tongue than the nose. A lot of nut comes through after that, hand in hand with more wooden notes, like these beans just copied their homework from oak barrels and can’t explain their work. Eventually, the drink reaches a moderately vigorous body with a pleasant bitterness, but we never detected the ginger or lemon that Starbucks suggests. Maybe it’s mild enough to make you happy with a latte, whipped cream, and other carbo-loading winter adornments, but taken on its own, you have to ask what Starbucks was saving this one for.