Coffee lovers can never seem to agree on one thing: what kind of roast provides the best cup? Is it a light and airy blonde roast or a dark and heavy counterpart?

As it turns out, the answer depends on the type of bean used, its origin, and how long it’s been roasted.

The blonde roast from Starbucks is stronger than dark roasts because of their higher caffeine content. However, a dark roast has a more robust flavor, which results in a shaper and more mature coffee flavor.

This article takes a deep dive into the differences between blonde and dark roasts and which one is stronger.

Blonde roast vs. dark roast: the key differences

The blonde roast vs. dark roast is a debate that has been going for some time.

Coffee enthusiasts tend to pick a side, but it may not be as simple as it seems. Let’s compare the two to see who comes out on top:

Difference:Blonde roast:Dark roast:
Caffeine content85mg – 180mg75mg – 190mg
Brewing temperature96 – 98 °C (205 – 208 ℉)92 – 96 °C (198 – 205 ℉)
Grind sizeFine to medium grindFine to coarse grind
Natural oilsAlmost no oilsVery oily
AromaFruity, sweet, balancedIntense, sharp, unique
Brewing techniqueEspresso, pour overEspresso, French press, cold brew

Now that you know about the key differences between these coffee roasts let’s get into the details and find out which is right for you!

What is a blonde roast?

A blonde roast is a coffee that has been roasted for a shorter amount of time than a dark roast. A blonde roast coffee will have more caffeine and a less intense flavor than a dark roast.

In 2012, Starbucks announced its new signature blonde roast, and it has been available ever since.

Starbucks blonde roast.

It’s actually a pretty cool story, as Starbucks wanted to meet the needs of the 54 million coffee drinkers in the U.S. that prefer lighter roasted coffee.

Now that you have a bit of a back story into blonde roast coffee, let’s get into the differences between the blonde roast and a dark roast:

Is a blonde roast less bitter than a dark roast?

Blonde roast coffee is less bitter than dark roast because of the lower roast temperature. Dark roasted coffee tends to have more bitter notes because of the higher temperature they’re roasted to.

If you like a cup of coffee with a more balanced flavor, a lighter coffee roast might suit you better. It’ll make for a more balanced and sweet cup of coffee without any bitterness.

Is a blonde roast less acidic than a dark roast?

When coffee beans are roasted, their size and density change, which affects the flavor of the roast. The darker the roast, the stronger the flavor.

The more coffee beans are roasted, the more they lose their acidity. This is why the blonde roast is more acidic than a dark roast.

Does blonde roast have more caffeine?

Coffee is the drink of champions. If you want to feel mentally awake and focused, you’re going to need to drink some coffee.

However, the type of coffee you drink can enhance or detract from the benefits you get from it. For example, blonde roast coffee will give you a slightly higher caffeine level than dark roast coffee.

Blonde roast coffee beans

Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found in coffee beans. The level of caffeine in a cup of coffee depends on a number of factors, including the variety of coffee beans, the roasting process, and brewing time and method.

Blonde roast coffee has a caffeine content that is slightly higher than the average caffeine content of a dark roast:

  • The average caffeine content of blonde roast coffee is 180mg per 8-ounce cup (0.24 l) of brewed coffee. The average blonde espresso shot has 85mg of caffeine.
  • Dark roasted coffee contains 190mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup (0.24 l) of brewed coffee. For an espresso shot, this comes out to 75mg of caffeine.

Are you interested in learning more about the difference in caffeine between blonde roast and dark roast? You can find more information here.

Blonde roast vs. dark roast: what is the difference in taste?

The differences between a blonde roast and a dark roast are more than just the degree of roast applied to the beans.

Blonde roasts tend to have a milder taste and a softer, smoother mouthfeel than dark roasts. Dark roasts have a stronger flavor and can be more sharp and intense than blonde roasts. 

Starbucks blonde roast is perfect for coffee drinkers who prefer a more balanced and smoother coffee without the punchy flavors that darker roasts tend to have.

I found that the blonde roast tastes more sweet and fruity than I had in mind. Comparing this to a dark roast side by side, I noticed that there were more nuanced flavors in the blonde roast rather than the dark roast.

Blonde roast on the left. Dark roast on the right

It’s a fun experiment to do if you can get your hands on a brewed cup of blond and dark roasted coffee or prefer brewing them at home.

You’ll be able to taste the difference yourself, and you’ll most likely find the same flavors that I’ve come across.

I think, for most coffee drinkers, the blonde roast is perfect. It’ll easily get you through the day without the heavy flavors that a dark roast tends to have.

How do you grind blonde roast vs. dark roast?

I recommend grinding your blonde roast coffee a bit finer than your dark roast to get the most out of your coffee beans.

Because the blonde roast has not been roasted for that long, there are more nuanced flavors that you’ll not release if you grind it the same way you’d with a dark roast.

The higher brewing temperature, along with a slightly finer grind size, will help you get all those amazing flavors out of the coffee beans.

Have a look below for a comparison between the two grind sizes:

Blonde roast coffee grounds on the left. Dark roast coffee grounds on the right

Depending on the brewing technique you’re going to use, you can switch up the grind size to your needs.

You can read more about the right grind size for the different brewing techniques in this article.

Which brewing technique do I use for blonde and dark roasts?

I found that you can use most brewing techniques with both coffee beans. However, to get the most out of your coffee beans, I recommend the following:

  • You can use a blonde roast for espresso coffee and pour over coffee.
  • You can use a dark roast for espresso coffee, French press, and cold brew.

I’ve tried brewing French press coffee with the blonde roast, but it wasn’t the best in terms of flavors.

I really think that using blonde roast for espresso and pour over coffee is the way to go because a finer coffee grind is used in these brewing techniques.

Stirring Hario V60 brew.

Blond roast espresso is delicious and has an almost sweet flavor profile. When used in pour over coffee, like with a Chemex, you can also taste these amazing balanced and sweet flavors.

Turning the brewed coffee into iced coffee using the blonde roast is delicious as well. You can check out this easy recipe if you want to give it a try!

As for the dark roast, espresso coffee, French press coffee, and cold brew are your best bet.

The taste of a dark roast in cold brew coffee is what makes the coffee so flavorful. This is why in my list of recommended coffee beans for cold brew, most of them are dark roasts!

As for the French press, I found that brewing with a dark roast makes amazing coffee as well. French press coffee is usually known for its more robust flavor, mainly because of the darker roasts used.

Fun fact: Cold brew is actually more caffeinated than espresso.

Conclusion

The difference between a blonde roast and a dark roast is that one has less caffeine than the other due to how long it was roasted for.

A darker, longer-roasted bean will have more oils on its surface, which means it’ll be stronger in flavor but also contain less caffeine (and thus provide fewer jitters).

For those who like their coffee with cream or sugar, this may not make much of a difference; however, if you drink your cup black, then keeping an eye out for caffeinated content might matter to you.

The difference between blonde roast and dark roast coffee is more than just the color of the beans.

What are your thoughts about these two different types? Which one do you prefer, or has another type caught your attention lately? Let me know in the comments!

Learn more about coffee beans

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On my coffee blog you will find everything you need in order to start brewing coffee at home. Ranging from the basics; to the newest coffee recipes everybody talks about!

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