I Am Mellow.

by Jenn (eating bender) on January 12, 2012

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?


1 Megan (Braise The Roof) January 12, 2012 at 10:27 am

Hmm, I hadn’t heard about the new blend. I know for sure that I’m a dark roast girl, though. :) It’s funny- that’s the ONLY roast that I’ll drink black! The lighter the roast, the more I need milk or cream. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

2 Jenn (eating bender) January 12, 2012 at 10:30 am

That is interesting! I wish I was that way, truly. I think it’s because I do prefer really dark roasts over medium, but always with cream — I’ve just made my taste buds way too used to having something in the coffee.

3 Annie January 12, 2012 at 11:20 am

there are better coffees here in san francisco but i do go to starbucks for a cheap coffee and some snacks!

their breakfast items are amazing

4 Jenn (eating bender) January 12, 2012 at 11:23 am

Agreed – I have yet to meet a breakfast item I don’t like! As for San Fran coffee, all I have to say is Blue Bottle. I had a latte from there when I was on my honeymoon. It was heaven! Have you tried it?

5 Annie January 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm

oh definitely! i don’t know anyone that hasn’t tried it over here. however i read an article about the top 8 coffee places in san francisco and bluebottle made 7th. since that article i’ve been trying a lot of different types of coffee here in san francisco!

6 Jenn (eating bender) January 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

Very interesting! That’s awesome.

7 Erica January 12, 2012 at 11:36 am

Are you visiting those adorable nieces of yours?? If so- have SO much fun! I saw the pictures on instagram and was SO jealous. I am a bucks fanatic. I think the blonde roast is yummy. Glad you enjoyed

8 Jenn (eating bender) January 12, 2012 at 11:51 am

It does involve those adorable nieces! I’m seeing Miss Claire, my niece from Kansas City. So excited!! And glad to hear you are a fellow ‘bucks fanatic. :)

9 Kristie January 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I’m usually more of a latte girl if I’m buying it because I like the way I make coffee at home in the french press, but I’d definitely be a blonde roast girl if I did get it at Starbucks. I used to get it from there and always think it was so nasty, but then I realized that each time they were giving me french roast (and I really can’t stand french roast blends). Sounds fun though! I always like a bit of half & half or cream in my coffee myself.

10 Jenn (eating bender) January 18, 2012 at 9:37 am

I’ve had French press coffee before — and agree, it’s amazing!

11 BroccoliHut January 12, 2012 at 5:37 pm

I’m not a regular at Starbucks…but that’s more of a cost-saving strategy than anything else. I’m afraid to go more often for fear that I would get hooked!

12 Jenn (eating bender) January 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

Very true — luckily my “habit” is not daily or I’d be in serious trouble. :)

13 withasideofhope January 13, 2012 at 6:14 am

I am a fan of Starbucks but sometimes I find that their coffee is too bitter. I like Pike’s Place roast. I would really like to try some of their new coffees. They sound great :)

14 Jenn (eating bender) January 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

Pike’s Place is definitely one of my go-to roasts when I’m there!

15 Jordan January 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I love coffee but unfortunately it hurts my stomach :( However I do love a Starbucks bathroom when walking around any city hehe

16 Jenn (eating bender) January 18, 2012 at 9:39 am

Haha yes – the bathrooms are key! :)

17 Barbara Davis January 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I’m definitely a bold blend kind of girl (so much so that I named my blog after it). I tried the new blond blends today and think they will be great for people who don’t like super strong coffee.

Great blog, beautiful pictures!

18 Jenn (eating bender) January 18, 2012 at 9:40 am

That is so cool – your blog looks great, Barbara! Look forward to reading more. Thanks so much for stopping by and for the kind comments on my blog. :)

19 Leng January 13, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Hi Jenn!

That’s cool that you got to experience a coffee tasting event. I always wanted to do that.

I like some of their drinks. the vanilla latte’s are good. I also like their lunch boxes. For coffee, I prefer the lighter roasts. I’d probably be a blonde roast.

Free coffee and free food = awesome!

20 Jenn (eating bender) January 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

Hi Leng! So great to hear from you! Their vanilla lattes are my all-time favorite. :)

21 Emily @LivingLongfellow January 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm

How fun to take part in a Starbucks tasting. I always go for the dark roast. I don’t know if this is even the least bit accurate, but the dark roast doesn’t seem as bitter to me as the light roast. I’ll really though drink any of their coffees :)

22 Jenn (eating bender) January 18, 2012 at 9:47 am

I think it’s totally dependent on our taste buds! But you’re right — the dark roasts are usually pretty smooth. It’s the medium ones that can be bitter!

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