Starbucks Coffee Company announced the arrival of Starbucks Blonde Espresso, marking the first time the company has introduced a new core espresso option in the United States in more than 40 years. Customers across the U.S. will now be able to order any handcrafted espresso beverage with their choice of “Starbucks Signature” or “Starbucks Blonde” espresso, including Starbucks Caffe Latte, Cappuccino, Flat White, Macchiato, and Americano beverages.
“Our partners are so passionate about their craft and now they get to help our customers discover and personalize the foundation of the beverage—an espresso that is either bold and rich or smooth and bright. We want every experience our customers have with us to be perfect for them” says Kris Engskov, president U.S. Retail for Starbucks.
Demand for espresso beverages is on the rise with the National Coffee Association reporting in 2017 that nearly 25 percent of past-day daily coffee drinkers choose espresso. Starbucks has offered a second espresso option in select international markets since 2013, including the debut of Starbucks Blonde Espresso in Canada last year to an overwhelmingly positive response from partners (employees) and customers. Building on that success, this is the first new addition to the company’s U.S. core espresso menu and, as a permanent addition will be available year-round. Starbucks Blonde Espresso is also available in pods for the Verismo System by Starbucks and, joins Starbucks portfolio of lighter roast offerings including Starbucks Blonde Roast coffees, which were introduced as whole bean packaged coffee and brewed options in 2012.
Created by a team of master blenders and roasters, Starbucks Blonde Espresso brings together beans from Latin America and East Africa, roasted to the peak of their flavor to showcase the coffee’s balanced, subtle sweetness.
“We set the standard for a dark, boldly roasted coffee and in this case, we broke a few of our own rules by taking a lighter approach to espresso which created a bright taste with sweet citrus notes and a smooth body,” says Andrew Linnemann, vice president of Global Coffee for Starbucks. “We are really proud of the roast and think customers are going to love experimenting with it”
All of Starbucks coffee, including Starbucks Blonde Espresso, is sourced through its Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E) Practices, the company’s comprehensive approach to sourcing that meets its social, economic, environmental and quality standards. Starbucks is also a founding member of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a growing coalition of more than 80 industry and conservation leaders led by Conservation International. The challenge is convening the sector to sustain the future supply of coffee while helping to ensure the prosperity and wellbeing of farmers and workers.
Here is a history of Starbucks’ espresso:
The first Starbucks espresso beverage served was actually a bit of an experiment.
When Starbucks first opened in 1971, Starbucks was a roaster and retailer of whole-bean coffee that was scooped and bagged to be brewed at home. After a visit to Italy’s coffeehouses in 1983, Howard Schultz was inspired to bring espresso to Starbucks, and eventually persuaded the founders of Starbucks to include a tiny espresso bar in the back corner of its sixth whole-bean retail store as a test.
Schultz recalls that first drizzly morning in Seattle in April 1984. “We didn’t plan any pre-opening marketing blitz, and didn’t even put up a sign announcing Now Serving Espresso,” Schultz said in his book, “Pour Your Heart Into It.” “We decided to just open our doors and see what happened.”
Most customers had never even heard of the Italian drinks that were on the first menu, but these early baristas encouraged them to give them a try.
“I watched several people take their first sip. As I had, most opened their eyes wide, responding first to the unaccustomed burst of intense flavor,” Schultz wrote. “They hesitated, then sipped again, savoring the sweet warmth of the milk. I saw smiles as the full richness of the drink filled their mouths.”
Within a few weeks, the baristas could not make the beverages fast enough, and lines began spilling out the door.
“From the minute we opened, this much was clear to me: Starbucks had entered a different business,” Schultz said. “There could be no turning back.”
Although any coffee can be brewed as espresso, it takes a special blend that can hold its own as a doppio (double shot), or come through the steamed milk in a flat white. From that first day and for more than 40 years, Starbucks signature espresso coffee has been Starbucks Espresso Roast. Created by Dave Olsen for his own coffeehouse in 1975, its hallmark is a special blend of beans darkly roasted in the classic Italian style to produce a rich and caramelly sweetness with a lingering roast finish.
In 2013, Starbucks began offering a second espresso option in select stores from time to time, giving customers a chance to experience their favorite espresso beverages with a twist. Starbucks Origin Espresso in the U.K. offered seasonal single-origin options from growing regions around the world, and U.S. customers got to try Christmas Blend Espresso Roast as an espresso option during the 2015 holiday season.
Now Starbucks is offering a second espresso core option in the United States with Starbucks Blonde Espresso. The new espresso, which first launched in Canada in 2017, offers beverages a lighter roast that provides a balanced and sweet flavor with a smooth, creamy feel.
“With our signature Starbucks Espresso Roast, the caramelly roast comes through in the beverage while Blonde Espresso is a sweeter, gentler flavor,” says Anthony Carroll of Starbucks Coffee team, who developed the new blend. “It’s a great way to invite new espresso drinkers to try our beverages, while also offering our seasoned coffee drinkers a way to experience our beverages in a new way.”