What Is Blonde Roast Coffee? (A Guide To Lighter Coffee)

It’s been ten years since Starbucks first launched its light roast.

So let’s finally answer the question: what is Blonde roast coffee?

In this article, I’ll give you an overview of Blonde roast coffees. I’ll explain what it means, how they taste, and what they are best used for.

Let’s get straight to it!

What Is Blonde Roast Coffee

blonde roast coffee in glass jars

The short answer is that blonde roast coffee is simply lightly roasted beans.

Calling them “Blonde” is specific to Starbucks. But almost any coffee shop has light roasts. So, if you like Starbucks Blonde roast, you might also enjoy light roasts from local shops.

Starbucks introduced Blonde roasts in response to a lot of customers saying they would prefer a light roast coffee.

And the light roasts have become a staple.

With the rise of specialty coffee shops, light roasts have actually come to dominate the coffee world.

Most specialty shops roast lighter for the more nuanced flavors and higher acidities.

Back when I was a barista, we actually only roasted lightly. We didn’t have any dark roasts at all.

Let’s take a closer look at the most important aspects of Blonde roast coffees.

How do they roast Blonde coffees?

As I hinted at earlier, Blonde roast coffees are lighter than other coffees.

You can think of Blonde coffees as light roasts.

Green coffee beans are placed in a roaster and given a roasting profile. 

There’s a whole science to roasting, but really what you need to know is that they are essentially toasted to the roaster’s desired level.

Think of roasting coffee beans like baking cookies.

For a crispy, crunchy cookie, you would raise the temperature, and the time your cookies spend in the oven.

But for chewy, softer cookies, you would lower the temperature and let them bake for less time.

Dark roasted coffee is left in the roaster for a long time and at a higher temperature. Light roasts are taken out sooner and roasted at a lower temperature.

Some specialty shops even create specific roasting profiles for each one of their light roast coffees.

In my experience, baristas and roasters love talking about their coffees. Asking your barista about their different coffees is a great way to get a feel for what roast level and profile you enjoy.

BOTTOM LINE
Blonde roast coffee is just light roast coffee. That means that Blonde roast coffees are roasted for a short time and at a lower temperature than medium or dark roast. Sometimes Blonde roasts are called Cinnamon or New England.

How does Blonde roast coffee taste?

woman drinking coffee

Let’s continue with our cookie analogy.

If you have a crunchy chocolate chip cookie, most of your experience is going to be the crunch and the rich flavor of the chocolate chips.

And that’s fine.

But if you’re like me, then you prefer a somewhat chewy texture.

A chocolate chip cookie that’s cooked for less time and at a lower temperature will have a softer, sometimes gooey inside.

Have you ever noticed that you can taste more of the ingredients that way? My grandmother used to use a lot of salt in her cookies, and I could taste the salt when the cookies were soft.

But you can’t taste the ingredients in a crunchy cookie.

Blonde roast coffees are like chewy chocolate chip cookies. Darker roasts are like crunchy cookies.

In lighter roasted coffee, you get more unique flavors. Ever wondered how roasters get their tasting notes?

They use a lighter roast to bring out more citrus and floral notes in the coffee.

Another added benefit is being able to taste differences between coffee-growing regions.

For example, Africa is known to have more acidic coffee that can taste like pink lemonade. On the other side, Central America grows coffee that tastes more chocolatey and like citrus.

The best way to taste those flavors is to roast them lightly.

Blonde roasts are usually best suited for pour-overs or for making cold brews. But you can really make any kind of coffee with them.

IN A NUTSHELL
Blonde roast coffees have more unique flavors than darker roasts. That’s because they retain more of the bean’s characteristics through the roasting process. Darker roasts burn off a lot of the unique profiles.

How acidic is Blonde roast coffee?

blonde roast coffee

There are two things to consider when talking about acidity in coffee: the actual acidic properties and the acidic taste.

Don’t be fooled. These are two very different things. But we talk about them in pretty much the same way.

Blonde coffee roast is always more acidic than medium or dark roast.

But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

For example, I mentioned pink lemonade earlier. If I find a coffee that tastes like pink lemonade, I would say that that coffee has a “bright acidity.”

However, if that coffee tastes like I just sucked on a lemon slice, I would say it’s “overly acidic.”

Like most things with coffee, it’s always a balance. Too much acidity in a Blonde roast, and you’ll end up with a pucker face.

Not enough, and your Blonde coffee will only taste bitter and flat.

In terms of which coffee roast level is easiest on the stomach, that’s a different story.

There’s a lot of research out there that has conflicting results. But the bottom line is that you have to figure out what upsets your stomach.

It could be the acidity in a specific coffee or roast, sure. But it could also be the caffeine content or the brewing method.

For example, cold brew actually has very low acidity. Heat draws out acidity, so brewing your coffee cold doesn’t allow the acidity to get into your cup.

Brewing a V60, Chemex, or other pour-over will result in a more acidic cup.

And coffee, in general, is much less acidic than standard sodas or citrus juices.

DON’T FORGET
Acidity means a great range of tastes and flavor profiles. Low acidity doesn’t always mean it’s easier on the stomach.

How strong is Blonde roast coffee?

Strength usually refers to caffeine content. And there’s a misconception out there that Blonde roast coffees have less caffeine than dark roasts.

That’s actually not true.

Blonde or light roast coffees actually have the most caffeine.

There are generally two reasons for this:

  1. Your beans aren’t roasted as long. The higher the heat and the longer the time means less caffeine.
  2. The beans are denser. That means that if you measure your coffee by scoops, you’ll actually end up with more grounds from a light roast than from a darker roast. And more grounds means more caffeine.

The general consensus, though, is that the difference in caffeine level is negligible unless you’re drinking many cups of coffee.

There’s actually another way we can think about strength:

When we coffee folks talk about strength, we mean the body of the coffee.

Body means how filling the coffee feels in your mouth. Sometimes we also call this “mouthfeel.”

A similar mouthfeel to a strong coffee would be cough syrup or juice concentrate. A less strong coffee would be more similar to iced tea or flavored water.

In that sense, Blonde roast coffees are generally lighter than medium roast or dark roast coffee.

IN A NUTSHELL
Blonde roast coffee bean can actually have more caffeine than dark roast. If you’re looking for less caffeine, your best bet is to simply cut back on coffee altogether.

What’s the best way to brew Blonde roasts?

blonde espresso

Okay, time to dispel a big myth:

You can brew Blonde coffee however you’d like.

There, I said it.

And I mean, I really shouldn’t have to say it. But it’s still out there.

You can brew Blonde coffee any way you want: from brewing Blonde espresso to cold brew, anything goes.

If you’re asking me personally, I would tell you that my favorite Blonde roast brews are actually from the Aeropress.

Why is that?

Because Aeropress rewards creativity and personalization.

And because Blonde roasts have so many interesting and unique flavors, playing around with them in an Aeropress is so much fun.

If you want consistency, however, I would recommend using a French Press instead.

French Press brews are easy to repeat and have a few variables that will change how your coffee tastes.

BOTTOM LINE
As always, coffee is about personal taste. So if you find that your favorite Blonde brew is from a pour-over, then that’s totally alright.

Don’t let some internet barista tell you that a Blonde espresso isn’t real.

Blonde roast espresso is as real as anything else.

My Final Thoughts

Blonde roast coffee is Starbucks’ name for a light roast.

Other shops might call it New England or Cinnamon roast, but they’re all pretty much the same thing.

Light roast coffees are more acidic, have more caffeine, and have more unique flavor profiles.

They can be used to brew anything from espresso to cold brew. (And they taste great no matter what!)

I think every coffee drinker should try a light roast at least once.

Happy sipping!

Want to make your own Blonde roast? Check out our article on how to roast coffee beans at home!

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Craig Carey
Craig spent a year as a barista in Denver's specialty coffee world. He spends his days rock climbing, cycling, drinking espresso, and hanging around the Rocky Mountains. He still lives in Colorado.