Blonde Espresso Vs Regular Espresso: Which Is Stronger?

Going into Starbucks, you'll notice they offer three types of espresso; regular, blonde, and decaf. Decaf is pretty self-explanatory - it's their traditional espresso without the caffeine. But what exactly is the blonde roast? Does the blonde roast have less caffeine or more of a kick to it?  

If you’re wondering whether the blonde roast could better kick start your morning, follow this guide to find out which is stronger in blonde roast vs espresso and if it’s worth the change. 

The blonde roast was introduced to the menu on January 10th, 2012. It was advertised as having a sweeter flavor with more caffeine. The reason is because it’s a lighter roast; more caffeine is retained.  

When roasting coffee, longer times will burn away more moisture from the bean, and with it the caffeine. A common misconception is that darker roasts have more caffeine, but it’s actually the opposite. The darker roast tastes stronger because of the natural oils that are released through the process - which introduce nutty, bolder flavors.  

Starbucks uses a different selection of beans from Latin America for its blonde roast. They use beans that will roast better at lower temperatures and shorter times. This gives it a sweeter flavor with a spice and cocoa undertone. In summation, a blonde roast has 85mg of caffeine, while a regular espresso has 75mg. The price is exactly the same as a regular espresso. This roast is for people who enjoy an extra kick in their coffee while keeping a sweeter, lighter flavor.  

Blonde Espresso Vs Regular Espresso: Which Is Stronger?

Regular Espresso - Why Is It Still The Favorite? 

The regular espresso - the house blend - has been available since Starbucks began trading in 1971. Their roast is medium to dark; it’s purposefully roasted longer for a more intense flavor which creates a rich palette consisting of nutty, caramelly flavors.  

It's easy to see why it's so popular. Each shot of espresso compliments the different drinks it's in. Cappuccinos retain their bold flavor in the bed of foam, while lattes are more subtle and keep the bold taste. Most cafes outside of Starbucks will offer darker roasts as their signature blend, because of the profile they deliver in their drinks. Coffees should taste strong, and dark roasts deliver that.  

Espressos are prepared by running hot, pressurized water through ground coffee. Espresso uses a fine grind because the water spends little time with the coffee ground, and it allows the grind to mix together to create a varying palette. In terms of caffeine content, a standard espresso has 75mg of caffeine. So, does the 10mg of caffeine make a difference? 

regular coffee espresso

Blonde Espresso Vs Regular Espresso (Differences Compared) 

1. Strength 

As mentioned, the blonde roast has a higher caffeine content than the standard espresso. There’s 85mg per shot in the blonde roast and 75mg per shot in espresso. Does it make much of a difference? Well, in a shot, no. But if you compare it to brewed coffee, the blonde roast will contain 680mg, and their house blend will have 600mg. That 10 mg will add up when you order larger drinks, giving you more caffeine in your cup of joe.  

Verdict: Blonde roast is stronger. 

2. Flavors 

You’ll get a vastly different flavor palette with each roast. A blonde roast comes with a sweeter flavor and less bitter tones. It has a light aroma, and it blends perfectly with a latte. Along with flavors of citrus and florals, you will find it more subtle in your coffee. A dark roast has much bolder and more bitter flavors, and this isn’t a bad thing. You can find nutty and caramelly hints in your espresso, and because of the flavor strength, the bitter edge is taken off in steamed milk drinks like a latte.  

Verdict: Espresso gives you a stronger flavor in your drinks. 

3. Color & Appearance 

Because of the roasting process, the blonde espresso is roasted at lower temperatures for less time. This gives it a lighter color and a matte finish. Conversely, a dark roast is done for longer at higher temperatures to give it a darker color. The oils are formed from the process when the beans become less dense as it comes to the surface. This gives them a shinier appearance than the blonde roast.  

Verdict: Blonde roast looks cleaner than darker roast, but dark roast appears shinier and more robust.  

4. Beans 

The standard espresso uses a mix of arabica or robusta beans (or both!) that complement each other to create a blend of different flavors. They're usually found in Latin America or Africa, giving them a good mix of caramelly, acidic flavors. A blonde roast uses different beans predominantly found in Latin America, which produce more citrus and smoother tastes. The blonde roast comes with lemon or orange undertones, which will provide a different flavor to your morning coffee. In terms of which is better, this is dependent on your own preference. 

Verdict: Blonde roast gives you sweeter flavors, whereas an espresso has chocolate, nutty flavors. 

5. Pairing 

The blonde roast has a lighter body, which means it works well with iced coffees or an Americano if you want to taste all the notes. It works better in drinks with a more subtle flavor, giving you the chance to really taste the roast. A standard espresso works better in mochas, frappuccinos, or flavored lattes because it has bolder tastes that complement flavors better. Its intensity will match better with sweet syrups and drinks.  

Verdict: Espresso is better for coffee with sweeter flavors. Blonde is better in subtle tasting drinks.  

6. Roasting Process 

A blonde espresso is roasted for less time, which means any oils or density which would have been removed remains in the bean. It gives a sweeter flavor because the beans aren’t caramelized as much. The sweet palette comes from only allowing the beans to roast for a short time. Espresso is roasted for longer, meaning its sweetness is taken away. The natural oils in the bean give a bolder and stronger flavor, which wouldn’t appear in a lighter roasting process.  

Verdict: Blonde roast takes less time and produces lighter flavors. Espresso is roasted longer and produces bolder, stronger tastes. 

two shots of espresso

How To Make A Blonde Espresso At Home 

Lightly roasted beans work as well in pour-over, such as a French Press or Chemex. You can use an AeroPress to quickly brew a blonde espresso at home. Another simple method is listed below, along with everything you need to know: 

Grind: Coarse 

Requires: Small Sieve or mesh filter 

Brew Time: 1-2 minutes 

Water: Freshly Boiled 

For this method, we recommend using a coarse grind to extract the flavors better.  

  • 1
    Grind your coffee beans as the water boils. 
  • 2
    Use approximately 5 teaspoons of ground coffee and place it into the mug.  
  • 3
    Pour the hot water over the grounds in circular motions and allow the grounds to bloom. 
  • 4
    Cover and leave for about 1 minute. Leave for 2 minutes if you want a stronger coffee. 
  • 5
    Place a small sieve or mesh filter on top of another cup and gently pour in the grounds with the coffee through it. Tap the sieve on the side to allow any excess coffee into the mug. 
  • 6
    Remove the sieve and enjoy your homemade espresso! 

You can watch how to make a blonde roast espresso from home here:

Blonde Espresso Vs Regular FAQs

Is a blonde roast the same as a cinnamon roast? 

There are similarities. They’re both lightly roasted coffee and produce sweet floral tastes. The cinnamon roast is used to describe the coffee that is removed as early as the first crack of the bean. The blonde roast was originally known as cinnamon roast, but it would have caused confusion between the syrups, and was ultimately changed.  

Is blonde roast only for espresso drinks? 

You can use blonde roast coffee in any variation of coffee brewer. A lighter roast works better in pour-over methods, as they have more time to extract the flavor palette. A blonde espresso would make more subtle tastes in your coffee in comparison to a standard espresso due to the short brew time.  

Is blonde espresso the same as a blonde roast? 

In terms of brewing, a blonde espresso and blonde roast are pretty much the same. You may hear people referring to a blonde roast when they use pour-over methods rather than espresso, as a pour-over produces more coffee. As mentioned above, a blonde espresso is more subtle than a brewed blonde coffee.  

How much caffeine is in 3 shots of Starbucks Blonde espresso? 

In a triple shot blonde espresso, there’s approximately 225mg of caffeine. This is more than in a standard espresso shot and gives you more of a kick for the mornings. If you want less caffeine, order a double (or doppio) shot from Starbucks, which has 150mg.  


Blonde roast has many benefits; it gives you sweeter tasting coffee and a bigger kick in your morning java. In terms of blonde espresso vs regular, you will find that a normal espresso gives you stronger tasting coffee complimented by sweeter flavors. If you like citrus flavors and a more subtle coffee, then blonde roast is perfect for you.