Enjoy the caffeine kick but can’t bear the espresso taste and often find yourself reaching for a glass of water to wash away the bitterness?
If this sounds like you, the blonde espresso might be your saving grace.
Have I got your attention?
The age-old espresso is typically brewed with dark roast coffee beans. It’s rich, bitter, and comes with a broad spectrum of flavors that coffee lovers everywhere crave.
So when Starbucks added blonde espresso to their endless menu of coffee drinks, people were understandably confused.
What exactly is a blonde espresso, and what makes it different? If you want the lowdown, keep on reading because in this article I have all the answers.
What Does Blonde Espresso Mean?
Okay, so what is so special about blonde espresso?
There is nothing inherently unique about blonde espresso beans. When you pull back the veil of marketing hype, it’s just a coffee bean that hasn’t been roasted for as long as the regular ones.
Because it’s so lightly roasted, a good amount of the bean’s natural sugar and acidity stays intact.
Lightly roasted coffee isn’t any new. Coffee roasted at the lighter end of the roasting scale was previously referred to as Cinnamon Roast.
But that caused a bit of a problem. At large coffee chains such as Starbucks, this failed to resonate with customers due to the association of Cinnamon with taste rather than with the color.
What Roast Level Is Blonde?
Blonde espresso is a lighter roast with a sweet and delicate flavor compared to coffee roasted for longer. Coffee roasted at this level typically has higher acidity (brightness) and a lighter body.
Depending on the origin of the coffee, some floral and citrus notes will also shine through.
Whereas dark roasted coffee, especially going towards the “charred” levels, will typically lose most of its acidity and origin characteristics.
But, you can expect a fuller body and more sweetness due to the sucrose and other compounds in the bean caramelizing at higher temperatures.
Right before the first crack!
There are various levels of “cracking” during the roasting process that roasters listen out for.
The first crack happens at temperatures around 196 °C (385 °F).
This marks the very beginning stage of a very light roast. Subsequent cracks are more of a crackling sound rather than a distinct crack.
– the blonde roast never makes it past the first crack.
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Is Blonde Espresso Stronger?
They are stronger in caffeine but not necessarily in taste.
As a general rule, lighter roasted coffees tend to contain slightly higher caffeine levels. But due to weight and volumes, the brewed drinks often contain practically the same amount of caffeine. For most people, it’s not noticeable.
But buying whole coffee beans is slightly different. Take Starbucks’ blonde roast as an example.
You can expect 360 milligrams of caffeine compared to only 260 milligrams in regular Starbucks dark espresso roast and 310 milligrams in their medium roast coffees.
What’s The Difference Between Blonde Espresso And Regular?
Okay, if you’ve gotten this far, you should already have a good idea of the key differences between blonde espresso and regular.
But here’s a quick summary of the key differences to jog your memory.
The most significant difference between blonde espresso and regular is the roasting profile.
Blonde espresso beans are roasted for a very short time at a lower temperature and generally don’t reach the “first crack” stage.
Regular espresso beans are roasted for considerably longer. They are in the dark or French roast range, which is at the end of the roasting cycle.
Dark roasts experience more of the “Maillard reaction.”
Which basically refers to the caramelization of sugar and reactions with the beans’ amino acids that produce buttery, caramel flavor notes while the citrusy notes are lessened.
The density of the coffee bean is also another noticeable difference.
When brewing coffee with dark roast, the coffee tends to be “thicker” due to the oils the charred beans contain.
Because dark espresso beans are roasted for longer, they release oils as they crack, which leaves a shiny sheen on the fresh coffee beans.
It’s these oils that add thickness to your brewed coffee.
The color is a big giveaway. And the name is rather fitting because the color of the blonde roast is, well, blond.
They’re very pale in color compared to the almost black dark espresso beans; if you held both in your hand, even a rookie would be able to tell them apart.
The dark roasted coffee beans also tend to have a very oily and shiny appearance due to the oils and other compounds oozing through the cracks when roasted.
You’d think that a more “stronger” tasting dark roast would have more caffeine, but surprisingly, the lighter roasts tend to contain the most.
This is a common misconception. The rich taste of dark roast coffees leaves the impression that it is a stronger coffee, but it’s just taste, not factuality.
And It makes perfect sense when you think about it.
Because lighter roasted coffee doesn’t make it past the first crack and is roasted in lower temperatures, much of the caffeine is still locked inside.
On the flip side, dark roasted coffees have had a large amount of their caffeine content “burnt” away. So a stronger taste does not mean more caffeine.
The flavor profile is significantly different between blond and dark roast coffees.
Lighter roasts, specifically blonde roasts, are much tangier, with a sweeter taste and intense scent, which some people find more palatable.
On the other hand, darker roasts are far less complex and offer a richer, almost charred taste.
If you’re accustomed to drinking dark roast coffee, you might not enjoy the subtle flavor notes of blonde espresso.
You’ll probably find blonde espresso to be a bit on the bland side in comparison.
Blonde Espresso Only At Starbucks?
When Starbucks added blonde espresso to their menus back in 2012, it was the first time in over 40 years that a new type of espresso had been introduced.
Since its appearance, Starbucks blonde espresso has quickly gained a loyal following and a staunch crowd of haters.
Today, blonde roast coffees aren’t just a “Starbucks thing.” You can walk into almost any high street coffee chain and order the equivalent shot of espresso.
Purchasing bags of blonde roast whole coffee beans is also possible.
And you will find many brands have jumped on the bandwagon and renamed their Cinnamon roast and light roasts blonde to capture some of the market share.
Starbucks Whole Bean Coffee—Starbucks Blonde Roast Coffee—Veranda…
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Blonde Roast: The Bottom Line
If you enjoy regular espresso, you should try a blonde roast, even if it’s just one time. The lighter taste profile might be a surprise if you’ve only ever drunk “classic espresso” pulled with dark roast coffee – but it’s definitely one that will grow on you.
You may find that you can enjoy your coffee without adding any creamer or milk because the light roast stands by itself and doesn’t need any additives.
Blonde roast coffee is perfect for an Americano and works well brewed in a French press or AeroPress.
Next time you pop into your local Starbucks ask for a blonde espresso roast in your vanilla latte- what have you got to lose.