Starbucks Thinks You Might Prefer Blondes, Debuts New Lighter Roast

Apparently Starbucks has had enough of people telling it to just “lighten up, man,” as they’ve announced they’re debuting a “Blonde Roast” brewed coffee in all their U.S. stores. It’s being called “mellow and approachable,” as opposed to the other darker, high-strung and standoffish roasts.

The Seattle Times notes that Starbucks has tried to go light in the past, with the 1998 Breakfast Blend, but customers weren’t impressed.

“While we thought it was light, (customers) were really telling us it wasn’t all that light,” Andrew Linnemann, director of coffee and tea quality and formulation told the paper. “We had to look at it in a completely different way without that roast element. It wasn’t part of our normal pattern either, so we had to learn a lot about ourselves and our customers, how do we do this so we’re not delivering something that’s under-roasted and raw and not tasting like anything.”

Starbucks says they tried out 80 versions of light brews before coming up with The Veranda blend, which has “a touch of cereal, a little bit of grain, a little bit of milk chocolate.” Another blonde roast, Willow, has “a touch of crisp acidity, light bodied, light intensity, but flavorful and very approachable.”

The mellow move is in response to what consumers want, says Starbucks in their announcement, saying 40 percent of coffee drinkers prefer lighter roasts.

Let’s hope that “burned coffee from the bottom of the pot taste” doesn’t carry over to the new roasts, eh, Starbucks?

Starbucks brews up something mild. Will customers prefer Blonde? [Seattle Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Thresher says:

    It will still taste burnt. I think that happens when they open the bags or something.

  2. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    “a touch of cereal, a little bit of grain, a little bit of milk chocolate.”

    Sorry. That ain’t coffee.

  3. Cat says:

    “a touch of cereal, a little bit of grain, a little bit of milk chocolate.”

    And a bit nutty?

  4. Coffee says:

    “Veranda”? “Willow”? Ahahahaha…I love these names…they sound like a female hygiene product line. I want to be in that brainstorm session…”Breeze”? “Tuscany”? “Riviera”? “Zephyr”?

  5. Dallas_shopper says:


  6. clippy2.0 says:

    People who complain about starbucks coffee often remind me of my wife, who complains that her mocha tastes too much like coffee and burnt chocolate and not enough like hot choco. Seriously, it’s coffee. It should taste like coffee, not sugar!

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      That sounds a lot like seafood. I know many people who like fish, as long as it doesn’t taste like fish.

    • MaliBoo Radley says:

      I disagree. I happen to love their espresso. The problem is that their drip coffee also tastes like espresso. When I drink a cappuccino/latte/mocha, I expect a strong coffee flavor from the dark espresso roast. When I go for a cup of drip coffee, I expect a milder flavor.

      Taste is, of course, subjective. Your view on the Starbucks is valid for you. But you have to understand that others might disagree. Their difference of opinion doesn’t make them wrong.

      • denros says:

        You should order an espresso macchiato if you’re into the flavor of the actual coffee (breve, if you don’t mind the extra couple calories). All their espresso-based drinks are made with far too much milk. Macchiato translates to “marked” in italian – as in, espresso marked with a dollop of foam (though some people , such as myself take liberty by adding a bit of steamed milk just to set off my favorite notes in the coffee).

        • MaliBoo Radley says:

          I actually used to work as a barista. The breve disgusts me. Only made 2 of them in my “career”. The macchiatos are fine, but not my, uh, cup of coffee. I actually like the large amount of steamed milk. Since it’s all down to personal taste, I think I’ll stick where I am.

    • FigNinja says:

      I love good coffee with little or no adulteration. Starbucks just tastes burnt to me. I’m lucky I live in a town with better options.

  7. Nogling says:

    Having a roommate who works for Starbucks pays off.

    The willow blend is pretty darned tasty. And is the only Starbucks coffee I’ve ever had that didn’t taste burnt. Of course, it’s still ridiculously overpriced, but having that roomie means we get a free pound a week. As coffee-addicted as we all are, that’s been a serious savings.

  8. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I tried it this morning and wasn’t impressed. I don’t want burnt-tasting coffee, but the blonde roast had a weird tangy taste to it.

  9. Cat says:

    “Blonde Roast”

    Why is the image in my mind Paris Hilton on a spit?
    I approve!

  10. cameronl says:

    It won’t make me choose Starbucks over a local independent coffee shop, but if I’m stuck with a group that insists on it, it’s good to know they’ll have something that I might tolerate.

  11. Cat says:

    I like my coffee like I like my women…

  12. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    I wanna be Director of Coffee and Tea Quality and Formulation when I grow up.

    Now doesn’t *that* sound impressive!

  13. The Twilight Clone says:

    Thanks for the press release / advertisement!

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      Because a large company known for its over-roasted coffee giving in to market pressure after decades has no consumer-based interest at all, right?

  14. AllanG54 says:

    I heard they’re trying these lighter roasts to compete with Dunkin’. I couldn’t care less because I make my coffee at HOME.

  15. c_c says:

    I generally prefer lighter (or at least medium roasts) … more complex flavors IMO – if they’re good beans. A lot of companies dark roast the bejesus out of crappy beans because they don’t taste that good to begin with.

  16. Chooi says:

    I tried it this morning. It’s actually pretty good and is the first time I’ve had a cup of their coffee that didn’t taste burnt. However, it’s still not as good as Tim Horton’s :D

  17. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    I would like a fiery red-head coffee, please.

  18. SerenityDan says:

    It tastes like Coffee flavored water

  19. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I tend to like my coffee thick enough to cut with a knife. So the “burned” taste that people whine about I apparently can’t even detect. All the coffee shops are essentially the same to me – SB, Caribou, Dunn Bros, whatever. No differentiation as far as I can tell.

    …but what amazes me is that with all the apparent people who “hate” that “burned” taste…why do they keep going there and buying the stuff?

  20. Earl Butz says:

    Charbucks does not know how to do a light roast. This will fail like the last attempt.

  21. Cacao says:

    Here is the secret. The reason Starbucks coffee tastes burnt is because they roast all different types of coffee beans together. Other coffee houses, they realize that bean A only needs 30 minutes roasting, bean B 20 and bean C 40. So they roast those beans individually and mix later. Instead, Behemoth mixes them all together and roasts them for 40 mins. Result: beans A and B get overroasted and you get that burnt flavor.

    • blueman says:

      Well, nice theory. But wrong.

    • Saxmoore says:

      I’d hate to be the guys that has to sort the beans after they’re all mixed together and roasted. I wonder if he has to do it one bean at a time, or if experience lets him do several at once.

  22. t2fastspin says:

    I don’t really think we have time for a handjob, Joe.

  23. Beaver6d9 says:

    Breakfast blend is pretty acidic, even if it is lighter. Imagine a waffle house coffee if it were brewed properly, you wouldn’t like it if you are used to making standard underextracted coffee at home. Personally, the veranda was a little too smooth for me. I expected a bit of an acidic kick at the end

  24. trencherman says:

    Why not just offer a medium roast? I don’t like dark roasts–they all taste burnt…you can’t taste the differences between coffees of different countries/regions. Also, dark roasts don’t have as much caffeine as medium roasts do.

    • Beaver6d9 says:

      they do, it’s their pike place or whatever it’s called. It’s the one they have all the time and also one of my least favorite. I kinda miss the house blend they used to always have going.

  25. u1itn0w2day says:

    Lighter roast = lighter price, right?

  26. FrugalFreak says:

    other words, cheaper weaker coffee for same money.

  27. Endgame says:

    I like my coffee burnt, if you don’t like it go to Dunkin Donuts. I don’t see Starbucks having problems keeping customers with what they got, ahh, now I’m going to have to deal with more shleps in line ordering Blondes and Egg Mcmuffins.

  28. thomwithanh says:

    I’m a fan of their more robust blends and only tried because they were giving out free samples, not my usual cup of joe, but not bad at all. Might make for a good compromise when I’m visiting mom, who only goes for the lighter coffees…

    What I would really like, is if they brought back the Kenya blend… THAT was good