A move in the right direction for Starbucks

Last week I visited the new Starbucks in the University of Idaho’s bookstore. Why? They have an unusually nice selection of baked goods and though overpriced and very small, the “morning buns” are really quite tasty. Nothing like what they used to have an Zume bakery before it became West of Paris before it become Bloom, but I digress.

Anyway, I saw that they were pushing a new “blonde” light roast coffee. I asked the guy behind the counter for a sample and was pleasantly surprised to see him use a pour-over funnel to brew it on demand! No old put of drip and no robo-espresso. That should give it a fighting chance!

How did it taste? Really not too shabby. I wasn’t exploding with flavor but I can say that it didn’t have anything particularly offensive going on – which is a huge improvement.

I remember when they tried to do this a few years ago with the “Pike’s Place” roast. It was advertised as a truly light roast, but as I blogged about back then, it may have been Starbucks lightest roast, but for the whole rest of the world, that still means DARK.

This blonde is a big step in the right direction. Here is a comparison image:

On the right is Starbucks usual stuff – the charcoal special. All the flavor was burned away long ago. It has excellent shelf-life though (!!!) and holds up well in a vat of sweet milk.

In the middle is the Pike’s place Roast. Notice the shiny surface oils though? Despite what the marketers say, this is NOT a light roast. Some coffees do taste really nice at about this level, but only a few. You have to be careful.

On the left is the new “blonde” roast. Now we’re talking. The almost matte-finish means that all kinds of interesting higher and brighter flavors could be lurking in there.

At Bucer’s, virtually everything looks like the beans on the far left, or even lighter. Occasionally we get a variety that might border on looking like the middle stuff when done properly.

Still, it’s nice to see Starbucks responding to this demand – it is aesthetically well founded. Better coffee for everyone!



Leave a Reply