Does Blonde Roast Have More Caffeine?
Caffeine is probably the most stable compound in coffee as it takes extremely high temperatures to break it down.
During roasting, coffee beans are subjected to varying temperatures to achieve the various roast profiles with dark roasts facing higher temperatures than lighter roasts. Consequently, there is an unending debate about the caffeine level in lighter roasts as compared to dark roasts.
This page discusses what is blonde roast coffee, how to make espresso with blonde roast coffee, and the strength and caffeine content of blonde coffee as compared to darker roasts.
Does Blonde Roast Have More Caffeine?
Yes, blonde roast has slightly more caffeine than darker roasts but unless you are consuming several cups of blonde roast coffee the caffeine difference for a single cup is insignificant. For example, a shot of Starbucks’ blonde espresso has 10 mg more caffeine than a regular espresso shot.
The reason for the slight difference between the caffeine content in blonde roast coffee and dark roasts is that caffeine is fairly stable and withstands heat during roasting. Only a tiny fraction of caffeine is lost during roasting.
Moreover, blonde roast coffee beans are denser and heavier than the darker beans hence for the same grams of coffee, you need more of the darker beans which cancels out the slight difference in the caffeine content.
Studies have shown that caffeine degrades marginally during roasting. The reduction in the caffeine content from a light roast to a dark roast is quite small.
However, other chemical and physical aspects of the bean undergo significant changes throughout the roasting process. The beans lose their density and sweetness and expand in volume as the roast temperature increases.
Therefore, blonde roast beans are heavier and denser but smaller-sized than dark roast coffee beans. To measure let’s say 30 grams of both beans, you need more beans from the dark roast.
Read this detailed guide about how much caffeine is in a coffee bean.
The fact that you need more beans from the dark roast makes up for the difference in caffeine content.
The difference in caffeine content between a blonde roast and a dark roast is negligible when using the same quantity of coffee beans. For example, 30 grams of both roasts have comparable amounts of caffeine.
What is Blonde Roast Coffee?
Blonde roast coffee is a light roast that yields a coffee with higher acidity, notes of sweetness, and a lighter mouthfeel. The beans are denser, dry with no surface oil, and light-brown in color.
A blonde roast accentuates the unique aromas and flavors of the coffee’s origin hence it’s most suitable for single-origin coffee.
Different roasteries have adopted different roast temperatures for their blonde roast. Some roasteries market their blonde roast coffee as “lighter than light” whereas others produce a blonde roast that is more in the medium roast category in terms of roast temperature and characteristics.
Other names for blonde roast coffee are cinnamon roast, light city, half city, and New England. Some people refer to blonde roast as filter roast coffee because it is suitable for filtered coffee.
Roasting Temperature for Blonde Roast Coffee
Blonde roast temperature falls within the range of 356°F-401°F. Some roasteries roast at 400°F and then pull the beans from the roaster on the first pop.
At this temperature, the beans are just starting to heat up. They start yellowing and smoking as they release some moisture and gases.
The color changes to light brown and the beans start to pop (first crack) due to the inner pressure from gases and moisture that is trying to escape. Stopping the roasting process just after the first pop yields lightly roasted beans.
How to Identify Blonde Roast Coffee Beans
Blonde roasted coffee beans exhibit the following physical characteristics
- Hard and dense. Press a bean between your fingers and it is hard to crack because it has lost very little moisture
- Light-brown in color
- Dry. They have no oils on their surface
Blonde Roast vs Medium Roast
Here is a table of the differences between a blonde roast and a medium roast
|Variable||Blonde Roast||Medium Roast|
|1. Roast temperature||356-401°F||410-435°F|
|2. Flavors||Lemony, floral, and sweet||Sweeter and more balanced|
|3. Acidity||Higher about 4.5||Lower about 5.4|
|4. Color||Light brown||Brown|
|5. Mouthfeel/Body||Light and bright||Heavier and deeper|
|7. Brew method||French press, pour-over, cold-brew, aero press||Espresso, French press, pour-over, cold-brew, aero press|
Is Blonde Roast Stronger?
No, blonde roast coffee is milder, less intense, and lighter-bodied than medium and dark roasts. Its flavors are also more vibrant. Blonde roast coffee is not bitter but has more acidity than the other roast profiles. Starbucks blonde roast is sweet and balanced in acidity.
Does Starbucks Blonde Roast Have More Caffeine?
Starbucks blonde espresso has slightly more caffeine than regular espresso. A single shot of Starbucks blonde espresso has 10 mg more caffeine than a shot of regular espresso. Their blonde roast brewed coffee has less caffeine than darker roasts brewed coffee such as the French and espresso roast clover.
See Starbucks blonde vanilla latte which is made with blonde espresso.
Starbucks offers blonde roast espresso and blonde roast brewed coffee.
Starbucks blonde roast brewed coffee has more caffeine than both Pike Place medium roast and Featured dark roast coffees. However, the blonde brewed coffee has less caffeine than Starbucks’ more caffeinated clover brewed coffees such as the espresso roast clover and French roast clover.
The table below shows the caffeine content of some popular Starbucks brewed coffees.
|Type of Coffee||Caffeine in a Tall (12oz) cup||Caffeine in a Grande (16oz) cup|
|Pike Place Roast||235mg||310mg|
|Featured Dark Roast||195mg||260mg|
|Espresso Roast Clover||280mg||380mg|
|French Roast Clover||280mg||380mg|
Since most people desire to maintain their caffeine intake within the recommended levels, they are alarmed by the misleading belief that the blonde roast has more caffeine than dark roasts.
Here is a comprehensive post about the caffeine levels that can lead to diuresis.
Can I Use Light Roast Coffee Beans to Make Espresso?
You can pull espresso from a blonde/light roast but with adjustments to your regular espresso technique. When pulled correctly, a blonde roast espresso is lively and bright with notes of citrus and flowers. It has no bitterness.
On the downside, blonde roasts are harder to grind and have lower solubilities than dark roasts. Pulling a blonde espresso using similar parameters to a dark roast is a sure way to a bad espresso.
7 Important Adjustments When Making a Light Roast Espresso
The adjustments for a light roast espresso should aim to lower the acidity and enhance the extraction due to the lower solubility of the blonde roast coffee beans.
- Use a powerful burr grinder that can handle the hard light roast beans
- Try a finer grind size than that of your regular espresso to enhance extraction
- Allow the grounds to cool down after grinding. Blonde roast beans are very hard to grind and can get very hot when grinding
- Use a bigger ratio such as 1:2.5 to 1:3
- Increase the extraction time to 40-60 seconds to reduce the acidity
- Experiment with lower pressure to reduce the flow rate of water through the puck and increase the contact time between water and the puck
- A higher temperature can also enhance the extraction
Although blonde roast is good for espresso, pulling a light roast espresso requires intricate adjustments no wonder most people stick to the safer dark roast espressos.
We recommend that you read this guide about the factors that influence espresso quality.
Why Blonde Roast Coffee has Become Popular
Fancy names for coffee have been in existence for centuries, probably since the discovery of coffee. For example, coffee roast names such as the Italian and French roasts have been in existence for centuries.
In recent years, blonde roast coffee has emerged and gained popularity among roasteries, coffee shops, and coffee lovers. Some of the reasons for the rising popularity of blonde roast coffee include
- Blonde roast coffee is smoother than dark roasts. It has no bitterness making it the go-to drink for coffee beginners who are learning how to like coffee
- Its higher acidity highlights the unique flavors of its origin hence the popularity of blonde roast coffee in making single-origin coffee, especially, in specialty coffee
- A growing number of coffee lovers prefer the lemony notes of blonde roast coffee
- The rising demand for filter coffee that suits the lighter roasts has made the blonde roast even more popular
- Starbucks’ ambitious marketing of its blonde roast blend has raised awareness about blonde roast coffee
The Problem with Underdeveloped Blonde Roast Coffee
For the same amount of coffee, the caffeine content in blonde roast coffee is similar to that in dark roast coffee. Coffee roasting is a very subjective affair.
Despite the growing popularity of the blonde roast, there is no specific standard temperature to be adhered to by roasteries. Therefore, light roasts from different roasteries end up having very different characteristics.
A light roast from one source can equate to a medium roast from a different roastery. Some roasteries have also introduced “lighter than light” roasts.
Consequently, you are likely to encounter a light roast that tastes grassy and sour which is a sign of underdeveloped or under-roasted coffee beans.
Under-roasted beans are coffee beans that are removed from the roaster before their flavor and aromatic compounds have fully developed. They are very dense and very hard to crack or grind and unsuitable for making coffee.
Coffee roasting involves exposing the coffee beans to high temperatures. The darker roasts are roasted at higher temperatures than the lighter coffee beans. Blonde roast coffee is pulled from the roaster during or immediately after the first crack.
Blonde roast coffee is slightly more caffeinated than medium and dark roasts but the caffeine difference is insignificant unless you are drinking several cups of blonde coffee. The level of caffeine breakdown during roasting is marginal.
The amount of caffeine in coffee depends on various factors and fortunately, you can control some of these factors to determine the final caffeine level in your cup of coffee.
You may want to read our post about the factors that influence caffeine content in coffee.