My Tasting of Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Medium Roast Coffee Beans

by Nigel Ong

Starbucks is more than just its regular roasts. It also carries many single-origin roasts and some limited releases. One of the more popular single-origin roasts is the Guatemala Antigua.

With over 13,000+ positive reviews on Amazon, this roast certainly has its own legion of fans. Curious, I picked up a bag to try it out myself. 

In this post, I will open a fresh Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Roast bag, brew it three ways, sample it, and then compare it against other relevant coffee roasts in my collection.

About Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Roast

Starbucks was first founded in 1971 in Seattle, Washington. It was later taken over by Howard Schultz, who then took the company to become a global coffeehouse chain. 

Starbucks is known for selling high-quality coffee beans and its cozy coffeehouses. The brand is also committed to quality, innovative beverage creations and the experience it offers in its cafes.

The philosophy is to turn a Starbucks coffeehouse into a “third place” between home and work for customers to relax or connect.

The range of Starbucks roasts is broad, catering to diverse tastes and preferences. They offer three main roast profiles: 

  • Blonde (light), 
  • Medium, and 
  • Dark. 

You can also get Starbucks coffee in beans, grounds, and capsules. There are also instant coffee and RTD (Ready To Drink) versions.

One notable offering from Starbucks is the Guatemala Antigua roast. This roast is sourced from the Antigua Valley of Guatemala, known for its rich volcanic soil, cool climate, and elevation. 

This single-origin coffee is celebrated for its refined complexity, balancing elegant acidity, full body, and rich flavor notes of cocoa and subtle spice. 

First Impression

My Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Roast bag comes in an 8.8-ounce bag, or 250 grams if you think in metric. The coffee bag has what you would expect: a foldable tab and a one-way valve to keep the coffee fresh. 

My bag also has a newer design. It is simpler compared to the older ones. Checks with a Starbucks barista confirm that aside from the design, the coffee and roasts remain the same – the taste should not change.

The Guatemala Antigua is a medium roast made with 100% Arabica beans. Starbucks listed the coffee as having the flavor notes of cocoa and baking spice. 

When I opened the coffee bag, it released a robust aroma with a bit of smoke. I could sense undertones of sugary and malt-like sweetness, which were inviting. There’s an aroma of cocoa, too, and it’s quite strong.

I then poured out the beans and took a look at them. They look uniform in size, with a small amount of broken beans. Evenly-sized beans show quality, as the beans would have to be picked and graded before roasting. 

They also roast better since evenly sized beans mean less burnt or under-roasted beans. These should result in better-tasting coffee.

Looking at Amazon reviews, drinkers enjoy the smoothness and creaminess of this coffee. Some complained about the price, but since this is a single-origin coffee, the price will be slightly higher than regular blends.

How Does Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Roast Taste?

For brewing, I will brew the Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Roast in three ways:

French Press: This brewing style makes a murky, full-flavored coffee with floating particles. This should allow me to sample the coffee in its full flavor.

Pour Over With Filter Paper: This method produces a ‘cleaner’ version of the coffee without too much oil and particles floating about. This should help me to sample more of the subtle notes. 

Espresso: Espresso is coffee in one of its most concentrated forms. I look forward to tasting new flavors I could not detect in regular brewing forms. 

French Press

I brewed my French Press coffee using the Bodum Caffettiera. I stuck to a 1:12 coffee-to-water ratio, using 15 grams of coffee with 180ml of hot water at approximately 185°F (85°C). 

After a quick stir of the grounds, I let it brew for 4 minutes before pouring.

As I poured, I noticed the coffee was slightly dark brown with a hint of transparency, resembling typical medium roast coffee. Its aroma was quite enticing, with notes of coffee and spices.

Tasting it, the coffee’s flavor echoed its aroma. It was mellow and smooth on the palate. The body and smoke were present, adding depth to the coffee without smashing my palate flat.

As I continued to sip, I noticed crisp cocoa notes and a clear bitterness that nicely balanced the classic coffee taste. There were also some spices, possibly cinnamon or allspice.

The aftertaste was decent, leaving a lingering sensation of cocoa. With each sip, I occasionally detected some sweetness, which was a nice experience for my taste buds.

I can see this coffee enjoyed in colder mornings, as the spice and cocoa notes would be quite comforting. 

Pour Over With Filter Paper

For my pour-over coffee setup, I used the following:

I brought together 20 grams of coffee grounds with 360ml of hot, off-boiling water when brewing. Temperature-wise, I aim for 185°F (85°C).

I pour the water in slowly to slowly extract the coffee. The whole brewing process took around 4 to 5 minutes. I like what I see from the brewing – the more delicate and clean pour-over coffee than using a French press.

The filter paper also appears to help tone down the brew’s smokiness and bitterness, probably because the filter paper captures some of the oils and finer particles. 

As a result, the coffee has less sediment, too. I confirmed this by examining the bottom of my transparent glass coffee cup.

Lighter smoke helps the more subtle flavor of the coffee to stand out, making it more enjoyable to some drinkers. From this cup, I can pick up more cocoa and spicy notes with sporadic bursts of acidity. 


I first ground the Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Roast beans and loaded the coffee ground and hot water into my Wacaco Minipresso GR. This is a portable, hand-operated espresso device. 

I then turned around the machine, released the piston, and pumped a shot of Espresso out.

What I got was a great cup of Espresso. It has a creamy, rich layer of crema. Aroma-wise, it is mild and lacks the burnt, smoky scent you usually get with darker roast espressos. Instead, I picked up a bit of a spicy note, too.

I found the Espresso pleasant, with the spicy notes making the coffee nice to sip. It, however, does not have the intense kick that many espresso lovers look for. This is, after all, a medium roast.

This is an espresso I can slowly sip and enjoy, as it is not intense. You definitely would not see the need to gulp this down.

Starbucks Guatemala Antigua vs. Popular Medium Roasts

It would be interesting to see how the Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Roast stacks up against other popular medium roasts in my stash.

For this comparison, I lined up the following coffee alongside the Guatemala Antigua Roast for a taste test:

I brewed these coffees with my French press and drank one cup after the other. After trying it all, I would say the choice may be whether you like edgy or rounded flavors. 

The Community and Green Mountain roasts are blends, which I believe are blended to produce a rounded, even, comfortable taste. The Guatemala Antigua and the CBTL roast is less rounded and has a more edgy taste.

The earlier groups may be more enjoyable if you like a more ‘regular’ coffee taste. If you are more experimental, the latter will appeal more.

As a coffee drinker, I enjoy lighter, not too-smoky coffee with hints of sweetness and chocolate notes. 

Because of this, I would go with the Guatemala Antigua roast. Surprisingly, the cocoa and spicy notes are a nice combination I enjoy most.

However, I would keep the Guatemala Antigua coffee for colder days. If I just want a regular go-to to get me going, I would reach out for the American Classic roast.

Is Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Roast For You?

This is how I would sum up Starbucks Guatemala Antigua Roast. It is a rather ‘edgy’ single-origin coffee, roasted to have flavors of cocoa and spices. 

As a result, I think this roast may not be something everyone will enjoy. In fact, I don’t think Starbucks intended for the coffee to be enjoyed by the masses, either. 

If you enjoy experimenting with coffee flavors or like coffee with spicy notes, this roast will be something you can try. Thanks to its spicy notes, this roast will also be a nice coffee to sip on cold winter mornings. 

However, this roast may not work for you if you enjoy a more regular, rounded coffee. It’s too edgy in flavor, and the spicy notes may turn you off.

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