Does Blonde Roast Have More Caffeine? (Explained)


Does Blonde Roast Have More Caffeine?

Caffeine is probably the most stable compound in coffee as it breaks down at extremely high temperatures. During roasting, coffee beans are subjected to varying temperatures to achieve the various roast profiles with dark roasts facing higher temperatures than the lighter roasts.

Consequently, there is an unending debate about the caffeine level in the lighter roasts and dark roasts.

This page discusses what is blonde roast coffee, how to make espresso with blonde roast coffee, and the strength and caffeine content in blonde coffee as compared to the darker roasts.

Does blonde roast have more caffeine?

No, blonde roast coffee has a comparable caffeine content to the darker roasts as the loss of caffeine during roasting is insignificant. Moreover, blonde roast coffee beans are denser than the darker beans hence for the same weight 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 denser but smaller in size than dark roast beans. To measure let’s say 30 grams of both beans, you need more beans of the dark roast.

The fact that you need more beans of 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 amounts of 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 also call it 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

Bronde roasted beans exhitbit 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
  • Ligh-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

VariableBlonde RoastMedium Roast
1. Roast temperature356-401°F410-435°F
2. Flavors lemony, floral, sweetSweeter and more balanced
3. AcidityHigher about 4.5Lower about 5.4
4. ColorLight brownBrown
5.Mouthfeel/BodyLight and brightHeavier and deeper
6. OilDryDry
7. Brew methodFrench press, pour-over, cold-brew, aero pressEsspresso, french press, pour-over, cold-brew, aero press
Blonde roast vs medium roast

Is Blonde Roast Stronger?

No, the blonde roast is milder, less intense, and lighter-bodied than medium and dark roasts. Its flavors are also more vibrant. The blonde roast coffee is not bitter but has more acidity than the other roast profiles. A Starbucks blonde roast is sweet and balanced in acidity.

Does Starbucks Blonde Roast Have More Caffeine?

Starbucks blonde roast has more caffeine than the company’s Pike Place medium roast and Featured dark roast coffees. However, the blonde roast 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 coffees.

Type of CoffeeCaffeine Amount in a Tall (12oz) cupCaffeine Amount in a Grande (16oz) cup
Blonde Roast270mg360mg
Pike Place Roast235mg310mg
Featured Dark Roast195mg260mg
Espresso Roast Clover280mg380mg
French roast Clover280mg380mg
Ethiopia Clover280mg375mg
A chart showing the amount of caffeine, in milligrams, in popular Starbucks coffees

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 the darker 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 enhance the extraction due to the lower solubility of the roast and to lower the acidity.

  1. Use a powerful burr grinder that can handle the hard light roast beans
  2. Try a finer grind size than that of your regular espresso to enhance extraction
  3. Allow the grounds to cool down after grinding. Blonde roast beans are very hard to grind and can get very hot when grinding
  4. Use a bigger ratio such as 1:2.5 to 1:3
  5. Increase the extraction time to 40-60 seconds to reduce the acidity
  6. Experiment with lower pressure to reduce the flow rate of water through the puck and increase the contact time between water and the puck
  7. 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.

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 roasts 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 consumers prefer the lemony notes of a blonde roast
  • The rising demand for filter coffee that suits the lighter roasts has made the blonde roast even more popular
  • Starbucks’ 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.

Wrap Up

Coffee roasting involves exposing the coffee beans to high temperatures and 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.

The level of caffeine in blonde roast coffee is comparable to the caffeine level in both the medium and dark roasts as very little of the caffeine breaks down during roasting.

The amount of caffeine in coffee depends on various factors and fortunately, you can control some of these factors to determine the final amount of caffeine in your cup of coffee.

You may want to read our post about the factors that influence the caffeine content in coffee.

Patrick

Patrick is first a coffee lover and then a trained barista. His bucket list includes sky diving and sipping on Java in the Himalayas.

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