Starbucks Goes Blonde, a tasting event

Starbucks Roast Spectrum

Peet’s isn’t the only coffee company to introduce a new light roast in an effort to appeal to an even broader customer base. Starbucks has also jumped on the light roast bandwagon with a new category of light roast coffees: Blonde roasts. There are two coffee blends in this lineup – Veranda and Willow (also available in decaf) – and both are blends of South American beans. They have slightly different flavor profiles, but both are very lightly roasted and aim to produce a bright, mild coffee with a very clean finish.

I was able to attend a coffee tasting at a local LA Starbucks to compare the new Veranda Blonde roast to the medium (formerly known as mild) Pike Place and dark Fair Trade Italian roasts. No surprise: the Blonde roast was much, much milder than the other two, but it was great to have them side by side. Pike Place is a pretty mild coffee, and it seemed much more full-bodied compared to the Blonde Veranda. I personally prefer bolder coffees, though several of the other tasters at the event loved the lighter Blonde coffee.

Starbucks Coffee Master

Starbucks Coffee Tasting

We did a few food pairings with our coffee. A Petit Vanilla Bean Scone paired well with the Veranda, where the sweetness of the scone really mellowed the bright coffee. We paired a new breakfast item, a chicken sausage wrap with mushrooms and peppers, with Pike Place, where the peppery taste of the savory wrap blended nicely with the coffee. We also paired a whole grain bagel with the Italian, a pairing I can’t recommend as the smoky coffee over-emphasizes the nutty whole grains, rather than balancing them (unless you really love whole grain flavor, then go for it).

The Blonde roasts will be offered as drip coffee in the mornings, alongside Pike Place and whatever the dark roast offering of the day is. Starting around noon, Blonde will be available as a pour-over (since only Pike Place is brewed all day) or in the Clover, if the store has that option. Depending on how popular the Blonde roast are at any given store, they may be brewed longer.

I am bold.