Ask any serious coffee drinker to describe what Starbucks coffee tastes like and likely they'll use one of the following adjectives: bitter, bold, harsh, ashy, burnt.
But that'll supposedly change early next year when Starbucks rolls out its new light roast Blonde coffee. The coffee company promises that the new coffee will be milder in body and less acidic than either Breakfast Blend or Pike Place (its two lightest roasts to date). Do you know what this means? You can have a tall Blonde first thing in the morning! (Sorry! It's late in the day and I couldn't resist.)
Seriously, what it really means is that there may actually be coffee offered at Starbucks that doesn't taste like it's been burnt to a crisp. Here's coffee expert Andrew Hetzel explaining why he thinks introducing a lighter roast at Starbucks could work:
A lighter roast allows consumers to taste the actual coffee and less of the carbons that can occur with darker roasts ... Coffee purists tend to prefer a lighter roast.
Starbucks has never tried to hide the fact that it purchases coffee beans at a variety of price points (i.e., sometimes very cheaply), which means it relies on dark roasting to hide the many defects -- thus the harsh, ashy flavor. And it gets away with it because so many of the drinks at Starbucks incorporate milk, whipped cream, and flavorings, all of which help to mask the overpowering taste.
But now Starbucks wants in on the brewed coffee market, currently dominated by companies like McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts. To be a bigger player in this field, it has to give the customers what they want. And what the customers want is: lighter, milder roasts. Thus, Blonde (offered in two blends, Veranda and Willow) was born.
I've got to hand it to Starbucks, introducing a lighter roast is one of their best ideas yet: As someone who loves coffee but can hardly stand the taste of Starbucks, I welcome any idea to improve the coffee experience -- particularly one that doesn't involve piling more fat and sugar on top just so it can go down that much easier.
Image via Starbucks