I Taste Tested Starbucks Komodo Dragon Blend Dark Roast Coffee: Review, Photos

by Nigel Ong

One thing I have learned about Starbucks’ roasts is to always treat them as slightly darker roasts than they originally claimed. For example, a regular medium roast is probably a medium dark roast. 

Will Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast taste the same? I picked up this unique single-origin coffee and tried it out. 

I will review the Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast in this post. As usual, I will brew the coffee three ways and then sample it with popular flavorings. I’ll also compare it against other light roasts and regular coffee.

About Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast

Starbucks does not need much introduction; beginning as a single store in Seattle in 1971, it grew exponentially in the 1980s. This was when Howard Schultz joined the company. He was inspired by Italy’s espresso bars and wanted to bring that culture to the United States.

Today, Starbucks is a global giant. You can find a Starbucks in over 80 countries, with its green Baristas pumping out coffee to fuel millions of people. People see Starbucks as a place to have their morning coffee, a quick lunch, or a place to work and meet.

Starbucks also offers a wide range of coffee roasts that you can pick up from grocery aisles. These roasts were sourced from all over the world and offered in various roast intensities.

One unique offering is the Komodo Dragon Blend. This is a more exotic blend of coffee, combining beans from Indonesia and the Pacific. This creates a bold, exotic flavor profile. 

The Komodo Dragon Blend is named after the Komodo dragon, a nod to the Indonesian islands where some of its beans are sourced. Drinkers mention its earthy, sweet notes and a hint of spice. 

First Impression

I got my Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast bag from a local Starbucks in Singapore, which may explain why the packaging is slightly different. 

Discussion with the Barista, however, confirms that the beans are roasted to the same standard, which means the taste is the same. 

It’s a light roast, using 100% Arabica beans. The description mentions that the coffee has notes of fresh herbs and warm spice, which is common in Indonesian and Pacific coffee beans. 

When I opened the coffee bag, the aroma was intense, with an earthy, sweet smell. The earthiness has a wet dirt smell, almost like you are on the floor of a wet rainforest. 

The beans look even in color and well roasted, to a rather dark intensity. The sizes are also quite similar, showing the beans may have been selected by size before roasting. 

There are also not too many broken coffee beans, meaning you may not have too many over-roasted bean bits inside the roast.

How Does Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast Taste?

To get the most taste out of the Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast, I will brew the coffee three ways: French Press, Pour Over, and Espresso. Here are my reasons:

French Press: French press makes a dirty, murky, full-flavored coffee with floating particles. This should allow me to sample the coffee in all its ‘glory.’

Pour Over With Filter Paper: This method produces a ‘cleaner’ version of the coffee, which should help me to sample more of the subtle notes. 

Espresso: This is a dark roast coffee, which means it may taste very nice as an espresso. Espresso brewing also allows me to concentrate the flavor better.

French Press

Let’s start with a French press brew. I rocked my go-to Bodum Caffettiera for this one, but any French press you’ve got will do the trick here. On a budget? The IKEA Upphetta is a solid pick.

I added about 15 grams of coffee and poured 180 ml of hot water. The temperature is about 185°F (85°C for the metric folks). I gave it a solid 4 minutes to do its magic, then poured myself a cup to start the taste test.

The coffee was intense, with the earthy, wet rainforest aroma staying with me as I sipped the coffee. On your first sip, you should get a hit of bitterness and earthiness that stays with you throughout. 

As I took in a few more sips and the coffee cooled down, I picked up a bit of cinnamon, although the overall earthiness masked it significantly. 

The finish is also long, with a bitter, earthy taste on your tongue long after swallowing the coffee. This is an intense cup of coffee, definitely a dark roast.

Pour Over With Filter Paper

Here’s the setup I am using for my pour-over coffee:

I snagged my pour-over how-to from Starbucks, sticking to a simple 1:18 coffee-to-water ratio. I used water just off the boil for my pours.

The result? It’s a cleaner-looking brew, without many particles floating around. It’s less bitter and smoky compared to what I got from the French press, thanks to fewer sediments. However, it is still bold and smoky compared to regular coffee roasts.

This brew is lighter, cleaner, and has a softer taste. It’s not as bold as the French press coffee, which I miss for its murky, smoky vibes. 

When the coffee is less intense, its natural flavors have space to show themselves and more. I can taste more spices, and the wet rainforest taste turns a little mushroomy. There is also a bit of sweetness, perhaps brown sugar.


For espresso, I whipped out my Wacaco Minipresso GR. I loaded ground coffee beans and hot water into the tool before turning it upside down and pulling out a shot. 

What I ended up with was this espresso that smelled amazing, topped with a rich, thick crema. The crema has a smoky, earthy vibe but is not as strong as your typical espresso roasts.

The coffee’s spicy notes come out more in espresso form, which may appeal to some drinkers. If you enjoy cinnamon in your coffee, you will like the Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast in espresso. 

Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast vs Popular Dark Roasts

Since the Komodo Dragon coffee is a dark roast, I would like to see how it compares against other dark roasts I have in my collection. 

So, I brewed up a cup of each and did a little side-by-side taste test with the Komodo Dragon Rost:

All these dark roasts have their style of flavor, which means picking a clear winner will be tough. I guess I can only choose a winner from my flavor preference. 

In this case, I will again rank Major Dickason as the winner. It has the right balance of flavor and intensity and blends well with my palate. Next comes the Dunkin Midnight and the Komodo Dragon Roast.

I’m not too fond of the Komodo Dragon roast’s overall flavor experience – smoky, sweet, earthy, and spicy. It is also a bit too bitter for my enjoyment. But then again, you may have a different opinion.

Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast vs Regular Coffee

Finally, I would like to compare the Komodo Dragon Roast with the most basic brews- think of the $1 coffees from your local gas station or corner store.

This time, I grabbed an Americano from 7-Eleven and sipped it alongside my Komodo Dragon Roast. 

My take? Do yourself a favor and skip the 7E coffee. Komodo Dragon Roast knocks it out of the park regarding taste and enjoyment. It just hits differently.

As for the 7-Eleven coffee, it was kind of a letdown. It tasted bland and bitter, missing any real depth. I think it is also a bit watered down. The difference between the two was night and day.

Is Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast For You?

After sampling the Komodo Dragon Roast, I would say that this coffee may be a blend but has a rather edgy taste. The earthy, wet rainforest and spicy flavor may not be for everyone.

Flavor-wise, this coffee will work for those who see earthy and herbal notes in their coffee. If you like mushroomy and spicy notes, this coffee will work wonders, too. 

However, you are better off avoiding this roast if you prefer something else. There are less edgy dark roasts, which are easy to drink and not too experimental in their flavors, such as the Major Dickason Roast.

The roast also has similar issues with many typical Starbucks roasts – roasted darker than needed, but perhaps to mask issues with the beans. 

There is a reason why Starbucks is called ‘Charbucks,’ and this roast is probably contributing to the moniker. This also makes the coffee a bit too smokey for my liking and likely has masked some of the coffee’s natural notes.However, understand that this is my opinion of the roast, and you can only know if you like the coffee by trying it out yourself. If you are ready to take the plunge, try the Starbucks Komodo Dragon Roast. Pick up a bag here.

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