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What is a Blonde Espresso? (A Sweet Take On The Classic)

We all get stuck in a rut from time to time. Have you ever stopped and realized you’ve been enjoying exactly the same coffee for months or even years without considering any alternative option?

Whilst I am a big fan of the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” I am also keen on “variety is the spice of life!”

The giant coffee chain Starbucks, although they have a huge myriad of sweetened drinks, constantly adapting and including various seasonal varieties, actually don’t include a lot of versatility where it comes to the espresso roast they use as a base for all these coffee drinks.

Thankfully, this all changed when they branched out in late 2017/early 2018 when they introduced the blonde espresso roast to their permanent menu. This is the first, lighter roast coffee bean to make a name for itself across all Starbucks coffee shops.

The Blonde Espresso is a mellow and sweet alternative to the signature dark roast coffee usually used to brew espresso. It lacks bitterness yet still packs a whole lotta flavor into the Starbucks coffee drinks and is the perfect choice for first-time coffee drinkers.

what is blonde espresso

Starbucks Blonde Espresso

The blonde roast coffee sold at Starbucks is a lighter roast coffee bean that can be used to make espresso drinks. Starbucks typically uses a dark roast bean to brew their signature espresso and this is a blend of beans from Latin America and Asia/Pacific, expertly crafted to give an intense burnt caramel flavor with a hint of molasses.

Although Starbucks often features different coffee bean options at different branches, the blonde espresso roast is a rare addition to their permanent menu so can be substituted for any espresso option across all coffee shops.

The new blonde espresso was introduced as a menu item in Canada in 2017 and in the USA since January 2018.

The Coffee Beans

The blonde light roast are Latin American coffee beans with toasted malt and baking chocolate notes. The beans are light cinnamon in color and smooth in appearance. They are dryer to the touch compared to oily dark roast beans and have a strong aroma. The coffee they make is lighter in mouthfeel and thinner comped to medium or dark roast beans.

The Roasting Process

To get coffee beans from the freshly processed, green beans through the roasting process, they are subjected to varying temperatures and different lengths of time in the roaster. As the beans warm up they start to expand and eventually crack. This can be heard as well as seen on the surface of the beans. The coffee beans undergo two cracking stages before they are roasted into a flavorless mass of carbon.

Very light roast beans are removed just before the first crack occurs. Light roast ones are removed at the start or middle of the first crack stage. Medium roast beans are at the end of the first crack or just after this, before the second crack.

By the time the second crack occurs the whole beans have lost a lot of their water weight and have darkened in color. Oils are released that gives the beans a shiny surface and these are classified as dark roast coffee beans.

Blonde roast coffee is removed just after the first crack so is darker than the very light roast beans but much lighter than your average espresso blend.


The lighter roast coffee beans hold on to a lot of the bean’s natural flavors as well as lighter fruity and floral notes. As the roasting process progresses a lot of the tastes mature into more intense tastes like caramel, chocolate, and nutty undertones.

The blonde espresso beans are mellow and soft to the tastebuds. Toasted malt and chocolate undertones support citrus notes. It’s easy to drink and subtly sweet so perfect for first-time coffee drinkers. It pairs extremely well with milk as well as lots of other flavor combinations that are found in Starbucks drinks.


The acidity of the coffee beans adds a lot to the flavors that coffee lovers enjoy so much. The blonde roast is high in acidity, sometimes referred to as ‘brightness’ and this helps develop the rich depth of flavors these beans offer.

The downside with acidity is that it can be aggravating to those with stomach ulcers, IBS, or other GI issues. A good way to overcome this issue is to make cold brew coffee as this brewing process minimizes the acid in your brewed coffee.


Although it’s referred to as a ‘light’ roast, the blonde beans are not light in caffeine. The actual amount of caffeine in the blonde roast is around 170mg per double shot espresso whereas the standard, signature espresso contains around 150mg.

If you’re sensitive to caffeine but like the sounds of the blonde roast then opt for a single shot of espresso.

Brewing Process

Espresso is brewed using high pressure as well as hot water to extract a depth of coffee flavor. The pressure created by the espresso machine helps bring out the natural fats found in the coffee beans and they create a thick, foamy layer on top of the drink called the ‘crema’.

A typical espresso shot is brewed over 25-30s. This can be enjoyed as is, topped up with hot water to make an americano, or steamed milk added to give a latte.

If this brew time is concentrated to 15s you get a thick, intense shot that’s surprisingly sweet. This is called a ristretto and is often used to make a flat white.

A longer espresso shot gives a larger drink that can end up bitter. This creates a good base for a cappuccino when topped up with steamed milk and milk foam. It can also be used to make a macchiato if milk foam is dolloped on top.

Pairs Well With…

The sweetness and balanced flavors of the blonde roast pair well with milk and helps to accentuate the natural sugar flavors. It’s delicious in most espresso-based Starbucks coffee. A really good pairing is the blonde vanilla latte which creates an ice-cream type coffee.

It’s a really good option for coffee newbies as the flavors are sweet and full but not overpowering. It is a nice light option that mixes well in a mocha or even as an iced coffee on a hot summer’s day.

You can order these drinks from your local Starbucks coffee chain or buy a bag of whole beans to brew at home.


Starbucks blonde espresso is a lighter roast coffee bean that takes the bitter edge off Starbucks espresso drinks. It’s subtly sweet, rich in flavor, and pairs well with pretty much everything! It’s a great option for someone who is new to the world of coffee or for anyone who enjoys a lighter yet still flavorful cup of java.

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