If you’re not thrilled with the bitter taste of dark roast coffee, you might want to try Starbucks’ Blonde Espresso.
What are the differences between regular espresso roast and blonde espresso? And is Blonde Espresso stronger than regular coffee?
Find out as we uncover the subtle secrets of Starbucks’ lighter roast.
What Is Blonde Espresso?
Starbucks is famous for its dark roasted beans. Building on a long tradition of dark roasted coffees, they crafted drinks that add syrups and sauces that pair well with the dark brews.
But the times they are changing, and Starbucks has changed with them, to a certain degree.
Starbucks introduced a coffee that’s lighter roasted, their Blonde Espresso. This is a type of coffee that’s more in line with the preferences of coffee enthusiasts following the third-wave coffee trends. And to make it hip and cool, they call this light roast their Blonde Espresso beans.
In plain terms, Blonde Espresso at Starbucks refers to coffee beans that are roasted lightly when compared with their regular espresso.
Blonde roasts are also less dark than their medium roast beans. The term isn’t used in the coffee industry in general – it’s a Starbucks-specific term.
How does Starbucks create its Blonde Espresso?
They start with a blend of beans from Latin America and East Africa. Then they roast them for a shorter time and at lower temperatures.
Less intense, these beans avoid the bitterness sometimes associated with coffee. And they appeal to a wide range of coffee lovers who are looking for a different tasting experience.
If you’re wondering what other coffee shops call their light coffee roasts, it’s actually a bit complicated. There are lots of terms for light roasts.
Depending on the country and the coffee shop, you might see them called by a variety of names such as Cinnamon Roast, New England, Full City, or Half City.
Is Blonde Espresso Stronger than Regular Espresso
The Blonde Roast is promoted as having smoother tastes, with less bitterness. But the question persists: Is Blonde Espresso stronger than regular espresso beans?
If you’re asking about strength in terms of how much caffeine is in these beans, you may be in for a surprise. The Blonde Espresso is slightly stronger in caffeine levels, for both brewed coffee and espresso.
What are the differences in caffeine levels?
Here’s the caffeine content you can expect from different roasts and brewing methods:
- Pike Place Roast, brewed coffee = 155 mg of caffeine
- Veranda Blonde Roast, brewed coffee = 180 mg of caffeine
- Blonde, espresso shot = 85 mg of caffeine
- A regular shot of Starbucks espresso = 75 mg of caffeine
So in terms of caffeine levels, you can see that a shot of Blonde espresso has slightly more caffeine per serving, about 10 mg of caffeine. The Pike Place roast has a bit less caffeine.
Of course, how much caffeine is in a coffee drink depends on how long the barista pulls the shot for, as well as other factors.
The caffeine level also depends on how the coffee was brewed. For instance, coffee brewed in a French Press method will have more caffeine. But these numbers do give you a general idea that the Blonde Roast has a bit more caffeine.
But what about taste? Does that extra caffeine content change what you get in the cup?
Actually, when it comes to flavor a blonde roast won’t seem as intense as its darker cousins, medium or dark roast beans.
That can seem surprising since it has more caffeine. Why doesn’t it taste as intense?
Well, even though there is more caffeine, remember that the beans were lightly roasted. They have slightly less body and less bitterness. These two factors combined mean that a light roast seems, well…lighter.
We’ll be talking about tastes in the cup in a minute. For now, let’s briefly talk about how coffee beans are roasted and what makes these light.
How Are Beans Roasted Blonde
The Starbucks Blonde Espresso Roast refers to coffee beans that are roasted for less time and at a lower temperature than a dark roast espresso.
Specifically, a dark roast is when coffee beans are roasted at about 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In contrast, Starbucks caps their Blonde Espresso roasting temperature at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Right here you can see a big difference in the temperature between the Blonde roast and dark roasts.
Different from the long roasting time they use for their regular coffee, Starbucks stops the roasting time shortly after first crack for their Blonde Espresso.
First what? Does coffee crack? Yes, it does.
When coffee beans are roasted, the heat builds up inside the bean and starts to break down the bean structure. At about 10 minutes into the roasting process, the heat has built up so much that the beans start to crack.
This is an exciting moment when you’re roasting coffee. At first crack you can actually hear the beans begin to have these little explosions inside the roaster.
It sounds a bit like popcorn popping. After a flurry of cracking, which happens at about 11 minutes into the process, the coffee quiets down.
At this point, coffee is generally considered to be roasted. This is a light roast, or a Starbucks Blonde Roast. To reach medium or dark roasts, the roasting time would continue on, up to around seven or eight minutes more than for the Blonde roast.
Beans that are roasted for less time, like the Blonde roast, look a bit dry, and there’s a reason for this. As they are roasted longer, the oil inside the beans starts to come out and coat the surface.
As the beans get to the point of second crack, or a second cracking period, the oil comes out at a faster rate. That’s why very dark roasted beans look shiny, because they’re coated in their own oil.
Blonde Espresso VS Regular Espresso
How are Blonde roasts different from a regular espresso? Basically, in two major ways – flavor and appearance.
The most obvious difference in flavor between a Starbucks Blonde roast and a regular espresso is the level of bitterness.
Bitterness in coffee develops during roasting, and a long roasting process creates a coffee with a very defined bitterness.
A short roasting process, like in the Blonde Espresso, avoids the bitter notes. A cup of coffee with this roast should be smooth.
Generally, in a roast that’s not as dark you can notice some hints of citrus in the taste. Is this Blonde Espresso stronger in terms of fruity taste?
Yes, the Blonde Espresso is brighter than darker roasts. The most common citrus notes in the Blonde roast are lemon and orange.
You might love the unexpected zing in this type of espresso.This espresso is also subtly sweet, although you might feel the need to add some sugar to balance out the citrusy notes.
The chocolatey notes that you find in a coffee that’s roasted dark, or your typical espresso coffee, will be absent in this kind of espresso.
And of course, the flavor of a cup of coffee changes what you will pair it with.
Best paired with
What types of drinks do well when they’re made with Blonde Espresso or regular espresso?
Ingredients that pack a punch, like toffee nut or vanilla syrups, go well with the lighter Blonde Espresso. Also, almond milk pairs very well with this kind of espresso.
If you want to try a Blonde Espresso in a drink, order one of these:
You can also request a Blonde roast anywhere you would normally ask for their signature espresso. You may not want to cover your Blonde Espresso roast with heavy syrups or sauces, like chocolate, since it would drown the flavors of the more delicate coffee.
Related Read: Starbucks Espresso
As you would expect, a Blonde Espresso roast is less dark in color than the shiny, oily beans that you normally see in a darker roast. But don’t expect a California blonde in your bag.
These beans are still quite dark by the standards of most coffee shops. Blonde Espresso beans will look a bit dry, but that’s only because the oil inside the Blonde coffee hasn’t seeped out of the beans.
Wrapping Up: Is Blonde Espresso Stronger?
Is Blonde Espresso stronger? In terms of caffeine, yes. In terms of taste, you can expect a bright taste that’s less bold.
You can decide for yourself if you like it, and you’ll see if the Blonde coffee becomes your next big coffee love. You might find yourself craving the bright taste it gives to certain drinks.
Or you might love to sip on it black. If you crave some sweetness with your Starbucks Blonde Espresso Roast, mix it up by trying different sweet syrups or sauces.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Starbucks Blonde Espresso taste like?
You might notice the bright notes of the Blonde Espresso in comparison with regular espresso. Some coffee drinkers highlight that the Blonde Espresso has sweet citrus flavors and a smooth body.
The citrus flavors tend towards lemon and orange. Many Starbucks fans and coffee drinkers love the notes of sweet caramel in lightly roasted beans. And of course, a lighter roast like the Blonde Espresso avoids the bitterness so common in darker roasts.
How to order a Blonde Espresso Roast coffee at Starbucks
If you’re ordering espresso drinks at the store, you can ask the barista to swap the regular roast for a Blonde Espresso.
If you’re ordering on the app, it’s as easy as going to the Espresso & Shot Options tab and selecting Blonde Espresso. You can also request a Blonde Espresso in any of your favorite espresso-based drinks.