Blonde Espresso vs Regular Espresso: What’s the Difference?

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Blonde espresso has taken over the coffee industry. But many coffee drinkers still aren’t clear on what blonde espresso is and how it differs from regular espresso. 

So, blonde espresso vs regular espresso: what’s the difference? Blonde espresso roast is lighter than regular espresso roast and has a sweeter flavor. As simple as that sounds, blonde espresso has stirred up controversy in the world of coffee fanatics ever since Starbucks popularized the roast style.

Read on to learn more about the differences between blonde espresso and regular espresso and whether it’s worth it to go blonde. 

What Is Blonde Espresso?

Blonde espresso is a light roast espresso. Since the coffee beans in blonde espresso get roasted for a shorter period, the coffee has a sweeter and smoother flavor than traditional espresso.

Coffee roasters sometimes call this type of coffee a cinnamon roast. Although many people assume this name refers to the coffee’s flavor, it describes the pale brown color of the lightly roasted coffee beans. To avoid this confusion, Starbucks opted to call their light roast blonde. 

Blonde espresso first entered the mainstream when Starbucks released it in 2018. Before Blonde espresso, Starbucks had released the Blonde Roast and Veranda Blend in 2012, kicking off the light roast trend. 

Today, Starbucks blonde espresso roast is a permanent fixture on the Starbucks menu and continues to be heavily promoted by the company. The lighter roast has gained popularity, and now other coffee roasters have started experimenting with their takes on blonde espresso. 

Blonde roasts are divisive in the coffee community. Some drinkers love the sweet, smooth taste and think it elevates classic espresso beverages such as lattes.

Other coffee fans are vehemently against the blonde roast trend, arguing that blonde espresso roast has a bland, uncomplex flavor. Blonde roast detractors sometimes say that blonde espresso roast is coffee for people who don’t like coffee.

Whether you approve of the trend or not, blonde roast doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. 

Blonde Espresso vs Regular Espresso: What’s the Difference?

blonde espresso vs regular

When deciding on an espresso roast, it is helpful to understand its unique qualities. Blonde espresso and regular espresso have some key differences that separate them, including their flavor, color, caffeine level, and more. 


Blonde espresso has a noticeably different flavor than regular espresso. Blonde espresso has a much sweeter flavor and is less bitter than traditional espresso roasts. 

Some coffee roasters compare the blonde espresso flavor to caramel or sugar: light, sweet, and simple. On the other hand, regular espresso has a rich, heavier flavor. 

Regular espresso is more bitter than blonde espresso, but the darker roast allows the coffee to take on a more complex flavor. Coffee roasters typically describe traditional espresso as having a smokey or chocolatey taste.


The color differences between blonde and regular espresso are pretty obvious. Blonde espresso beans have a much lighter color than regular espresso. Traditional espresso beans are roasted for a long time and therefore have an extremely dark brown color. Some espresso beans look black.

Blonde espresso beans are roasted for a very limited time and thus aren’t that much darker than the coffee bean’s original color. The lightly roasted beans have a pale brown shade, quite similar to the color of a person’s natural blonde hair.

Caffeine Level

It is a common misconception that darker coffee beans have more caffeine. The opposite is true. The more you roast a coffee bean, the less caffeine it will have. Therefore, blonde espresso contains slightly more caffeine than regular espresso. 

For instance, a shot of the Starbucks signature espresso has 75 milligrams of caffeine, whereas a shot of the Starbucks blonde espresso roast has 85 milligrams of caffeine. This difference is small at first but can quickly add up once you start drinking beverages with multiple espresso shots.

The American Food and Drug Administration advises that the maximum amount of caffeine that an adult can safely consume in one day is 400 milligrams. Based on the Starbucks caffeine servings, you could have five shots of regular espresso and still be within the safe daily caffeine limit. However, five shots of blonde espresso would exceed that recommended amount. 


Blonde espresso is also more acidic than regular espresso. Generally, the lighter the roast, the more acidic the coffee will be. 

The Starbucks blonde espresso has a pH level of 4.5. In contrast, the signature espresso only has a pH level of 5.5. 

If you have a sensitive stomach or struggle with acidic food and beverages, you may want to avoid blonde espresso and stick to the darker roasts instead. Check out our post for our recommendations on the best espresso beans.

Starbucks Blonde Espresso Menu Items

Starbucks has made blonde espresso a permanent item on its menu, so ordering blonde drinks is fairly easy. You can request that any espresso beverage on the menu be made with blonde espresso instead of the signature espresso.

To order a blonde espresso drink, all you have to do is include the word “blonde” in your order. The barista will know what you’re talking about. If you are placing a mobile order, you can modify any espresso beverage to have it made with a blonde espresso shot.

For the full luxury blonde espresso experience, try out the blonde vanilla latte. The light, sweet taste of blonde espresso perfectly complements the vanilla flavoring. 

You can also buy blonde roast beans for brewing coffee at home. Starbucks offers bags of whole bean coffee in both Blonde Espresso and Veranda Blend. They also sell an instant coffee version of the Veranda Blonde Roast. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about blonde espresso. 

Is blonde espresso healthier?

Blonde espresso is not healthier than regular espresso. This lighter roast version of espresso is both more caffeinated and more acidic. Drinkers should use caution when adding blonde espresso shots to their beverages since the caffeine level is higher, and the acidity can irritate your stomach. 

Does blonde espresso have sugar?

Blonde espresso by itself does not have sugar. The roasting process for blonde espresso naturally creates a sweeter flavor than regular espresso.

Since blonde espresso has a sweet and smoother flavor than regular espresso, you may not need as much cream or sugar as you typically use in coffee. For this reason, some people prefer blonde espresso if they are trying to cut down on sugar. 

What’s the difference between a latte and a blonde latte?

The only difference between a latte and a blonde latte is the type of espresso used to make the drink. Starbucks baristas usually make lattes with signature espresso and blonde lattes with blonde espresso.

You may prefer a blonde latte if you want a latte with a sweeter and lighter taste. However, if you want a richer taste with less acidity, the traditional latte is your best option. 

Is blonde espresso white coffee?

Blonde espresso is not the same as white coffee. White coffee refers to coffee beans that are intentionally under-roasted. This means that white coffee has an even lighter roast than blonde espresso. 

Final Thoughts

So, blonde espresso vs regular espresso: what’s the difference? Blonde espresso and regular espresso are both great coffee options depending on your personal needs and preferences. 

A light roast espresso is perfect if you want a smooth and sweet coffee taste that works well in lattes. Regular espresso is gentler on your stomach and offers more dynamic flavors, making it a good choice for straight espresso shots or cappuccinos. 

Overall, blonde espresso is an interesting coffee concept and a testament to the innovation of the contemporary coffee industry. 

Try a blonde espresso drink the next time you’re at Starbucks, and let us know what you think!

Not a fan of the blonde espresso and like to make regular espresso at home? Then check our post How to Make Espresso: 4 Brewing Methods to learn how.

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