Blonde espresso has started gaining a lot of popularity in recent years, which might have made many coffee lovers wonder how much it can actually differ from your regular variety.

Both are flavorful and aromatic, but they provide different profiles when it comes to taste.

Blonde espresso is characterized by a mild, citrusy flavor profile, and subtle sweetness. It is more acidic and has a higher caffeine content than regular espresso. Regular espresso is dark roasted with a richer and more bitter taste.

In this article, I’ll delve more into the differences and similarities between blonde and regular espresso to help you find the best variety for you.

What is blonde espresso?

Blonde espresso is a lightly colored type of coffee with a milder taste than the regular variety. The term “blonde espresso” was first coined by Starbucks. It first became trendy in 2013 when the brand introduced its new blonde espresso drink.

Blonde espresso.

Blonde espresso was initially called Cinnamon Roast, but this confused people as “cinnamon” was supposed to refer to the color and not the taste.

Other popular names for blonde espresso include New England Roast, Half City, or Light City.

You can buy blonde espresso beans at most supermarkets and make the beverage yourself or opt for a pre-made version at your local coffee shop.

Many of the most popular coffee shop chains now serve drinks containing blonde espresso, but more independent cafés don’t often include it in their menu.

Tip: If you want to learn more about the blonde espresso, you can check out this article!

The differences between blonde and regular espresso

Below, you’ll find a comprehensive table explaining the main differences and similarities between blonde and regular espresso:

Comparison: Blonde espresso: Regular espresso:
Roast Light roast

Short roasting time
Dark roast

Longer roasting time
Origin Latin America and East Africa Latin America and the Asian-Pacific
Flavor and taste profile Mild and smooth-tasting

Bright citrus and floral notes

Subtle sweetness
Full-bodied, bold, and bitter

Smoky cocoa and earthy notes

Rich, caramel-based sweetness
Caffeine content 85 mg (0.002 oz) of caffeine per espresso shot 75 mg (0.002 oz) of caffeine per espresso shot
Bean appearance Light brown or beige and matte Medium to dark brown and sometimes oily
Acidity Acidic with a pH level of around 4.5 Less acidic with a 5.5 to 6 pH level
Uses Excellent with cold brew and non-pressure coffee making methods

Pairs well with almond milk and vanilla
Works well with chocolate and drinks containing a lot of dairy
Price Similarly priced

Those of you who still want to learn more about the differences between the two varieties, keep reading.

What are the differences in roast levels?

Regular espresso is typically dark (or medium to dark roasted), while blonde espresso is lightly roasted. The roast level is the main difference between blonde and regular espresso.

Roast level is one of the most important factors that can affect the coffee’s color, taste, and acidity level.

What are the differences in origin?

Blonde espresso mostly originates from Latin America, but it can also originate from East African countries, such as Ethiopia and Uganda. Most regular espresso beans are grown in Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Colombia.

However, Asian-Pacific countries (like Indonesia or Papua New Guinea) are also prolific espresso bean growers.

What are the differences in taste?

Blonde espresso drinks are mild-tasting, creamy, and slightly sweet, giving you a smooth coffee-drinking experience. Regular espresso drinks, in contrast, are roasted for a more extensive period, giving them a darker color and a more pungent taste.

Blonde vs. regular espresso.

When coffee beans are roasted and reach temperatures of between 302 °F and 392 °F (150 °C and 200 °C), the Maillard Reaction occurs.

The Maillard Reaction cracks the coffee bean open, resulting in the caramelization of the bean’s sugars and the occurrence of several amino acid reactions.

This produces rich caramel and buttery flavors while reducing the more subtle citrus notes.

The longer the Maillard Reaction lasts, the richer and darker the coffee’s taste becomes.

The blonde espresso roasting process ends just as the Maillard Reaction happens after the first coffee bean crack.

This allows the bean to retain its acidity and gentle citrus flavors. The main citrus note in blonde espresso is lemon, but you may taste oranges or grapefruit in some varieties.

Blonde roast coffee beans.

However, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time for the bean’s sugars to caramelize and develop a rich, smoky, and bitter taste.

What are the differences in caffeine content?

One shot of regular espresso (1 to 1.25oz /29.5 to 37ml) contains around 75 mg (0.002 oz) of caffeine. A shot of blonde espresso, on the other hand, typically contains 85 mg (0.002 oz) of caffeine.

Regular espresso (with its rich, dark-roasted taste) makes your coffee taste more robust, and you may mistakenly believe that it contains more caffeine.

In reality, the blonde espressos often have higher caffeine content than their regular counterparts.

Due to the longer bean roasting process, regular espresso beans are larger, denser, and heavier than blonde espresso beans.

This is the reason behind the slight difference in caffeine content. We all know that the best way to make coffee is to weigh your coffee beans.

Blonde and dark roasts compared with the same amount in grams,
Blonde vs. dark roast comparison using the same amount by weight

Since the blonde variety weighs less than regular beans, you need more blonde espresso beans to make the same amount of coffee, which would inevitably lead to higher caffeine levels.

What are the differences in bean appearance?

Before they are roasted, all coffee beans are green, and their final color will depend on the roasting time.

Regular espresso beans are dark brown, almost black. Their oily appearance is due to the longer roasting time that allows them to crack open and their oils to escape. Blonde espresso beans are light brown or beige and are roasted just before they crack open, giving them a dry, matte appearance.

Blonde roast and dark roast comparison.
Blonde roast on the left. Dark roast on the right

The oils are responsible for the telltale creamy foam produced when preparing regular espresso.

What are the differences in acidity?

Blonde espresso drinks are more acidic than regular espresso beverages. Their pH level is around 4.5, compared with traditional espresso’s pH level of between 5.5 and 6.

If you have stomach problems or sensitivity, you may want to avoid blonde espresso as the high acidity level can cause digestion issues and irritation.

What are the differences in use?

Regular espresso is ideal to use in macchiatos, lattes, and other similarly sweet beverages. Blonde espresso is better suited for cold brews and drinks that contain vanilla or non-dairy milk.

Regular espresso shots can cut through the dairy component with their rich, bitter, and caramel-sweet taste profile.

Using regular espresso to make macchiatos, lattes, and mochas is ideal. Chocolate sweetens the drink and balances out the regular espresso’s bitter taste.

Homemade Starbucks blonde latte.

Non-pressure coffee-making methods, such as pour over or cold brew, have a more extensive extraction period.

Lightly roasted beans are more suitable for these methods as the mild and gentle flavor is not overwhelming, and the drink won’t taste too bitter or sour.

Blonde espresso shots pair well with drinks containing vanilla and almond milk. Examples include vanilla lattes and macchiatos with non-dairy milk.

Grinding blonde espresso beans can be more challenging and time-consuming since they are denser and harder than the dark roasted variety.

What are the differences in price?

Blonde and regular espresso are similarly priced, whether you buy them as a drink in a coffee shop or as coffee grounds in a supermarket, which means that the decision between the two can be solely based on taste.

Most coffee shops now serve blonde espresso, and you can often ask your barista to substitute regular espresso shots with blonde ones at no extra charge.

The best espresso type for you

Now that you’ve read about the differences between blonde and regular espresso, which variety is best for you?

What is the most suitable espresso type for beginners?

The most suitable espresso type for beginners is blonde espresso. It’s more suitable for those not used to coffee, as it provides a milder taste and a less intense drinking experience.

Drinks made with regular espresso shots can often be too overwhelming for beginners, especially if you opt for a neat espresso shot or an Americano.

An Americano made with blonde roasted coffee beans.

Tip: You can easily make an Americano with blonde roasted coffee beans using this recipe.

What is the best espresso type for losing weight?

Blonde and regular espresso both contain a negligible amount of calories if you don’t add cream, sugar, or coffee syrup to your drink.

If you’re looking to lose weight, blonde espresso drinks may be better than the regular variety. Many blonde espresso consumers need to add less cream and sugar to their coffee due to its sweet and bright taste.

Which espresso type has the highest antioxidant content?

Blonde espresso contains more antioxidants than the regular variety as it has a shorter roasting time. Antioxidants help protect the body against free radicals, making blonde espresso an excellent choice if you are concerned about your antioxidant intake.

What is the most suitable espresso type for sensitive stomachs?

Regular espresso is the most suitable variety for those with sensitive stomachs. Don’t get fooled by its harsh taste, its low acidity levels make it an ideal choice for those experiencing digestive discomfort.

Espresso shot.

With its strong aroma and bitter taste, it’s easy to believe that regular espresso shots are harsher on the stomach.

However, blonde espresso is more acidic, making it a variety to avoid if you have stomach sensitivities or problems.

Related coffee comparison articles

Are you wondering how the blonde and regular espresso compare to other coffees?

Great! Check out the articles below for more in-depth coffee comparisons:

And to compare more coffees, visit the coffee comparison hub!

Final thoughts

Blonde and regular espresso are similarly priced but differ in acidity level, roast level, origin, flavor, and bean appearance.

Blonde espresso has a milder taste, making it perfect for beginners or those who prefer a smooth coffee-drinking experience. It pairs well with drinks containing vanilla or almond milk.

With its high acidity level, you might want to avoid blonde espresso shots if you have a sensitive stomach.

Regular espresso tastes delicious in drinks containing dairy or chocolate as these ingredients balance out the strong, bitter taste.

Espresso recipes to try

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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! You can learn more about me here.

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