Adam Campbell-Schmitt
January 09, 2018 10:15 AM

With so many coffee, tea, and espresso items on the menu (not to mention a bevy of seasonal and secret beverages) Starbucks is known for offering customers choices. Beyond the stable of lattes, mochas, and drip coffees, the Seattle-based chain also insists each customer make whatever modification necessary to their order and goes so far as to put their names on their cups to keep it as personal as possible. Now that espresso menu has, effectively, doubled as Starbucks is rolling out a Blonde Roast espresso in all of its U.S. stores today. The new product marks the first time the company has offered a choice other than the Signature roast that has been a staple of the brand since its founding over forty years ago.

Similar in some respects to its Blonde Roast coffees—the Veranda and Willow blends—Starbucks has sold since 2012, the Blonde Espresso is a lighter, brighter flavor and color (even down to the beans themselves). After the success of those earlier coffee roasts, the Starbucks team “decided to break the rules a bit” when it came to espresso, a spokesperson for Starbucks said via email. The beans are a combination of regions, starting with a base of Latin American coffees for body and East African coffees for “acidity and citrus notes.” That combination, according to a Starbucks Barista Champion we spoke with, lends well to the Blonde Espresso’s use in iced drinks and espresso-forward beverages.

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We were offered an early taste comparison of the Blonde and Signature espressos and indeed experienced those citrus notes along with caramel and less robust bitterness than the darker, Signature Roast. The difference was most present in the iced Americano and the Flat White, with the Blonde Espresso giving the former a more refreshing, tea-like finish and both taking on a nuttier and less-rich feel while sipping.

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If Blonde Espresso doesn’t sound like a foreign concept to you, that might be because the roast was offered in foreign markets previously, debuting in Canada last winter. The new espresso was also tested in the Austin and Tampa markets last spring before the company decided to take it nationwide.

Starbucks new Blonde Espresso is available in handcrafted beverages in all U.S. stores today.

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