On Tuesday I was given the opportunity to participate in a tasting of Starbucks new Blonde Roast coffee. As a Starbucks fan, in addition to being one who never shies away from a cup o’ joe, I happily made my way to the location on Oak and Rush with Jill to see what all the “buzz” (I had to) was about.
Coinciding with the launch of the Blonde Roast is some new packaging for all Starbucks coffees, both in grocery stores and in Starbucks themselves. You can see what I’m talking about above – the new packaging is organized by roast into Blonde, Medium and Dark. Starbucks is hoping that this will allow customers to more easily find their favorite varieties by taste and intensity. Below is a brief break down of how everything is now categorized:
- Starbucks Blonde Roast coffees are lighter-bodied with mellow, subtle and soft flavors. Offerings include: Starbucks Veranda Blend, Starbucks Willow Blend and Starbucks Decaf Willow Blend.
- Starbucks Medium Roast coffees are medium-bodied with balanced, rich and smooth flavors. Offerings include: Breakfast Blend, Guatemala Antigua, Kenya, Pike Place Roast, Starbucks Iced Coffee Blend, House Blend and Organic Yukon Blend.
- Starbucks Dark Roast coffees feature a fuller body and robust, bold flavors. Offerings include: Sumatra, Komodo Dragon Blend, Caffè Verona, Gold Coast Blend – Morning Joe Edition, Espresso Roast, Italian Roast and French Roast.
Upon arriving, we were informed that we’d be participating in a tasting to determine which roast we loved the most. Similar tastings will be going on at Starbucks locations across the country today through Saturday (check out more details here).
We were specifically trying out the Starbucks Veranda Blend. Essentially, any Blonde Roast coffee is characterized by a shorter roast time, which is evidenced by the lighter coloring of the coffee beans.
You might also notice that the brewed coffee is a bit lighter than the others – though this picture doesn’t do it justice. The Blonde Roast is in the top left corner, the Medium Roast is in the top right and the Dark Roast is out front.
We were asked to start by smelling the Medium Roast – Pike Place – and the Dark Roast – Fair Trade Certified Italian – in order to compare the two. I found the Medium to have a nutty aroma, while the Dark had a more roasted, fiery smell, which made sense!
We then went on to smell the Medium and Blonde Roasts for comparison. The nuttiness was definitely there for both, in my opinion, but the Blonde somehow seemed just a bit lighter. The same was definitely true when the tasting began.
What was most interesting to me is that I always drink coffee with milk of some kind, so this was my first opportunity to try and compare several different varieties straight up. Here were my thoughts:
- Blonde Roast: Very smooth, light taste. I could actually see myself drinking it without cream.
- Medium Roast: Slightly more flavorful, but also more acidic.
- Dark Roast: Most robust flavor, and also much smoother than the Medium.
Once we had tried the coffees individually, we were given a chance to try each with a food pairing.
The Blond Roast pairs best with foods that highlight its sweetness. We were each given a petite vanilla bean scone, which, by the way, are absolutely amazing in their own right.
I thought this food and coffee pairing was a winner. Truly, I never imagined that I’d be able to easily sip black coffee, but with the scone bringing out more of the flavor and smoothness of the Blonde Roast, I had no trouble.
Next up was the Medium Roast, which paired with Starbucks new Chicken Sausage Breakfast Wrap.
The wrap itself was amazing. It’s whole wheat and filled with egg, chicken sausage, fire-roasted zucchini, red peppers, yellow peppers and mushrooms, all for 300 calories. It also helped make the Medium Roast less acidic and, by my standards, more drinkable.
The last pairing was for the Dark Roast. Our guide told us that this blend pairs well with the nuttiness of a whole grain bagel. Just as with the Medium Roast, I still found that the coffee itself was not something I could see myself drinking black (unless I trained myself to get used to it), but it was definitely bolder and richer after taking a bite of the bagel.
Coffee and food are just a match made in heaven.
At the end of the tasting, we were given three stickers to choose from, thereby declaring our love.
It should come as no surprised based on my commentary – and the title of this post – which one I chose.
I am mellow. And very glad that I was introduced to the Blonde Roast. Now I’ll know exactly what to ask for next time I’m at a Starbucks.
In other words, later today.
It’s true! Even though the weather outside looks exactly like the snow that recently inhabited my blog’s homepage – Chicago is in the midst of finally embracing winter – Bobby and I will be venturing out to the airport later this afternoon, and you know I’ll be needing coffee to defrost once I get there.
Where are we headed? You’ll soon see! Let’s just say that cuteness is about to ensue.
Are you a Starbucks fan? If so, do you have a favorite blend?