Blonde Espresso Vs Regular: Which Roast Is Stronger?

Head spinning from all the options in your local Starbucks? Well, we have bad news because there's now 3 different types of espresso to choose from. 

Starbucks now offer their signature espresso, blonde espresso, and decaf. Decaf is pretty self-explanatory - it's their traditional espresso without the caffeine.

But what exactly is the Starbucks blonde roast? How much caffeine does the Starbucks blonde espresso have? Do people prefer blonde espresso?

In this guide we'll answer those questions and give you the full breakdown of Starbucks blonde espresso vs regular espresso so you can decide whether it's worth switching next time you order.

1. Power Play: Caffeine Kick Of Each Roast

The blonde espresso has a higher caffeine content than the standard espresso. There’s 85mg per shot in the blonde espresso and 75mg per shot in regular espresso. That also goes for Starbucks espresso roasts.[1]

Does the 10mg more caffeine in a blonde espresso make much of a difference? Well, in a shot, no. But if you compare it to brewed coffee then you can really see the difference in caffeine levels.

The blonde roast will contain 680mg, and their house espresso blend made with dark roast regular espresso beans will have 600mg.

That 10 mg will add up when you order larger drinks, giving you higher caffeine content in your cup of joe.

Verdict: Higher caffeine levels make blonde espresso stronger than regular espresso.

2. Flavor Frenzy: What Do They Taste Like?

You’ll get a vastly different flavor palette with dark roasts compared to blonde roasts. 

A blonde roast comes with a slightly mellow flavor and a less bitter taste. 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 espresso has a much bolder and more bitter taste, but 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: Regular espresso gives you a stronger flavor in your drinks compared to blonde espresso and a lingering finish. 

two shots of espresso being extracted from machine

3. Acidic Adventures: Tanginess Of Each Roast

In the tantalizing realm of espresso, acidity takes center stage, with blonde and regular varieties revealing their unique tangy tales.

Picture this: with each sip of blonde espresso, your taste buds embark on an exhilarating rollercoaster ride, as zesty and vibrant flavors dance upon your palate.

Meanwhile, regular espresso embraces a smoother, mellower acidity that intertwines with its robust profile. It's like comparing a zesty citrus burst to a gentle morning breeze. 

Just like choosing between a thrilling adventure or a peaceful stroll, the acidity level in espresso lets you craft your ideal coffee experience, tailored to your taste buds' desires.

Verdict: Blonde espresso tends to be more acidic than regular espresso.

4. Shades Of Espresso: What Do They Look Like? 

Despite the fact both types of bean are dark brown, the color and appearance of the two drinks can vary because of the roasting process.

Blonde espresso beans are typically roasted at lower temperatures and for less time than regular espresso beans. This gives them a lighter color and a matte finish. 

Conversely, dark roasted beans are roasted for longer at higher temperatures to give it a more noticeable dark brown color.

The oils are formed from the process when the roast coffee beans become less dense as it comes to the surface. This gives them a shinier appearance than the blonde roast coffee beans.  

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

5. Bean Origin: Tracing The Journey Of Each Roast 

The origins of a coffee bean will massively impact the flavor.

The growing climate and conditions in Latin America, India, Africa, and the Middle East all produce excellent coffee, but the flavor will vary in every region.

The growing conditions can also impact how much caffeine each bean has. 

The standard espresso uses a mix of arabica or robusta coffee beans that complement each other to create a blend of different flavors. 

The beans usually have their origins in the Coffee Belt in Latin America or Africa, which gives them some caramel notes and acidic flavors.  

A Starbucks blonde espresso drink uses Latin American and East African coffee beans which produce more citrus and smoother tastes. 

The blonde espresso 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: The blonde roast espresso beans from Latin American and East Africa give you slightly sweeter flavors, whereas a regular dark roast espresso has chocolate, nutty flavors. This makes a blonde espresso a lighter drink.

person holding roasted coffee beans

6. Perfect Partners: Pairings For Each Roast

Light roast and dark roast beans have noticeably different flavors and work well in different drinks.

Blonde roasts have a lighter body and a more mellow flavor. This means they works well with iced coffees or an Americano if you want to taste all the notes.

Blonde and light roast coffee works better in drinks with a more subtle flavor, giving you the chance to really taste the roast. 

Dark roasts and regular Starbucks espresso work better in Starbucks Frappuccinos, mochas, or flavored lattes because it has bolder tastes that complement flavors better. 

Its intensity will match better with mildly sweet syrups and drinks.  

Verdict: Regular espresso is better for coffee because it has sweeter flavors. Blonde espresso is better in subtle tasting drinks.  

7. The Art Of Roasting Blonde & Regular Espresso 

The roast levels of the two beans are what really separate these two drinks.

A blonde espresso is roasted for a shorter 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. 

Dark roast 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 has a shorter roasting time and produces lighter flavors. Dark roast espresso is roasted longer and produces bolder, stronger tastes. 

different levels of roasted coffee beans

8. Brew For Your Well-Being

When it comes to coffee beans it's difficult to quantify exactly what defines healthy.

Blonde espresso roast beans are grown differently to regular espresso coffee beans so naturally they will have a slightly different impact on your body. 

If you're comparing calories of blonde espresso vs dark roast coffee or regular espresso then there's no difference between them.

They all have pretty much zero calories, so choosing a light roast espresso won't help you lose weight. 

When it comes to caffeine levels blonde espresso based beverages are stronger than regular espresso drink. This is due to the roast levels, and you could argue that they're slightly worse for you generally. 

However, there is a positive health benefit to blonde espresso beans because of the light roasting method.

Blonde espresso beans have a lower roast level than dark roast coffee beans. This means they have higher antioxidant levels which are beneficial to your body. 

Verdict: Espresso blonde roast has higher levels of antioxidants so it's healthier than dark roast coffee beans.

9. The Price Of Perfection: Cost Of Each Roast

Starbucks blonde espresso roast is made using South American and East African coffee beans.

Given the transport costs, and the fact that the blonde espresso is quite a new roast, many coffee drinkers might expect to pay more. 

However, the blonde espresso roast is actually the exact same price as regular espresso. This means coffee lovers can try the new(ish) blend without paying extra. 

Verdict: The Starbucks blonde and regular espresso drinks cost the same amount.

two shots of espresso

What Is A Blonde Espresso - Is It Really Stronger? 

Starbucks are the world's leading coffee chain and it's their innovation that's kept them on the top spot.

Their expert tasters and baristas literally created a new type of coffee drink, the blonde espresso, by mixing two types of beans. 

The Latin American and African beans are lightly roasted to give you the blonde espresso, but it isn't like any other light roast.

The blonde espresso sits apart from other dark roast, medium roast, or light roasted beans, giving you a unique option many coffee drinkers enjoy. 

Starbucks introduced the blonde roast onto the menu on January 10th, 2012. It was advertised as having a sweeter taste and a higher caffeine content. 

A blonde espresso has 85mg of caffeine while a regular espresso has 75mgThis is because it’s a lighter roast and more caffeine is retained.  

Roasting coffee for longer will burn away more moisture from the bean, and with it the caffeine.

A common misconception is that regular 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 selection of Latin American and East African coffee beans for their light roast.

These roast better at lower temperatures than their usual medium roast beans, and give a sweeter flavor with a spice and cocoa undertone. 

The price is exactly the same for a blonde espresso or a regular espresso, so if you enjoy an extra kick in your coffee then you'll get better value from the Starbucks blonde espresso roast.

two shots of regular espresso

Regular Espresso - Why Is It Still The Favorite? 

The Starbucks signature espresso - the house blend - has been available since Starbucks began trading in 1971.

They use dark to medium roast beans which are purposefully roasted longer for a more intense flavor. which creates a rich palette consisting of nutty, caramelly flavors.  

Most cafes outside of Starbucks will offer darker roasts as their signature blend instead of light roasts or medium roast beans.

This is because of the strong coffee profile darker roasts deliver in their drinks.

So why is a regular espresso still so popular compared to a blonde espresso? Well the answer is simple, each shot of regular espresso compliments the different drinks it's in.

Starbucks have chosen their beans well and the espresso base balances the flavors of the other ingredients. 

This means that cappuccinos retain their bold flavor in the bed of foam, flat whites have a rich but strong coffee flavor, and lattes are able to retain their subtle but bold taste.

That's why coffee lovers keep coming back to Starbucks.

regular shot of espresso on a table next to a book and camera

How To Make Blonde Espresso At Home (Tips From A Barista)

All espressos (whether blonde espresso or regular) 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.

The good news is that you don't need an espresso machine to make blonde espressos, but the bad news is that you won't be able to exactly copy the signature Starbucks espresso brewing method unless you have a coffee machine at home.

However, there are a few other coffee recipes which show you how to make a blonde espresso at home (without espresso machines).

Light roast coffee 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 preparation method, we recommend using a coarse grind to extract the flavors better.  

  • 1
    Grind your light roast coffee beans as the water boils. Ideally your beans should be from East Africa or Latin America. 
  • 2
    Use approximately 5 teaspoons of ground coffee and place it into the mug (you can use more coffee if you want to make the blonde espresso stronger). 
  • 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 if it's your first time. 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 blonde espresso! 

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

Related Blonde Espresso Vs Regular Questions

Is a blonde roast the same as a cinnamon roast? 

No, blonde roast is not the same as cinnamon roast. Blonde and cinnamon roast beans are both lightly roasted and produce sweet floral tastes. However, cinnamon roast is used to describe coffee that is removed as early as the first crack of the bean.[2]

Is blonde roast only for espresso drinks?

No, blonde roast is not only for espresso drinks. In fact, it's very versatile! You can use blonde roast coffee in any variation of coffee brewer. It works best in pour-over methods, as they have more time to extract the flavor palette.

Is blonde espresso the same as a blonde roast? 

In terms of roasting, a blonde espresso and blonde roast are pretty much the same. The differences come down to how you brew the coffee. Blonde espresso is more concentrated and made using an espresso machine. Blonde roast is made using a drip coffee maker, French press, or pour-over.

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

A triple shot of Starbucks blonde espresso has approximately 225mg of caffeine.

Which Roast Do You Favor?

Blonde and regular espresso coffee recipes have a lot of similarities, but the roast level of a blonde espresso gives it a few extra benefits compared to a regular espresso - it gives you sweeter tasting coffee and a bigger kick in your morning java. 

In terms of blonde espresso vs regular espresso, you will find that a normal espresso gives you stronger tasting notes complimented by sweeter flavors.

However, coffee enthusiasts who like citrus flavors and a more subtle coffee will definitely prefer the Starbucks blonde roast.




Kayla Stavridis

Head of Marketing

Kayla Stavridis
Kayla Stavridis is a coffee enthusiast and Head of Marketing for Barista HQ. She blends her professional insights and experience with a deep passion for all things coffee. Kayla offers a unique, hands-on perspective on coffee culture and trends. You can find her sipping a cold brew with just a touch of milk on the beach in the afternoon and a Corona with lime in the evening.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... Cold Brew

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1 thought on “Blonde Espresso Vs Regular: Which Roast Is Stronger?”

  1. Can confirm today at Denver Airport we were charged 1.15 extra for Blonde Roast. Every other place yes, but pretty upset about it costing more here.

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