Is Blonde Espresso Stronger than Regular? A Coffee Roast Comparison


In recent years, you may have noticed a new type of coffee offering at your local Starbucks and other coffee shops. In fact, the first time I tried a blonde espresso drink was when I tried Starbucks blonde espresso. Blonde espresso is increasingly becoming more popular amongst coffee drinkers, and for good reason. 

This roast of coffee has a milder flavor and higher caffeine content, appealing to both the energy seekers, and coffee skeptics. If you haven’t tried blonde espresso, you may be wondering what blonde espresso tastes like and how it compares in strength to regular espresso. 

We will answer those questions and more in this post. First, let’s learn about coffee and how it is made.


Tiny white mug containing a shot of espresso on a gray background.

Where Does Coffee Come From?

What is the Coffee Belt?

Coffee beans can be sourced all over the world, although they most commonly originate near the equator. The specific regions that coffee plants thrive in and are produced globally is referred to as the “coffee belt”. 

The coffee belt is defined by a region that runs horizontally around the Earth. The upper boundary is the Tropic of Cancer which is located at 23oN and the Tropic of Capricorn, which is located at 23oS. The equator runs equidistant between these two planes.

Major Coffee Producers

Brazil is the greatest producer of coffee beans globally, followed closely by Vietnam. Colombia, Indonesia and Honduras follow these two major producers, each producing significantly less than half of either Brazil or Vietnam.1 

Coffee is also exported from East Africa, primarily Uganda, and Ethiopia.

burlap sack containing roasted coffee beans

What Different Roasts of Coffee are There?

When purchasing coffee at the store, you will most likely encounter light roast, medium roast, or dark roast. These levels of roasting refer to how long the coffee beans have been roasted. 

Blonde roast is another name for light roast and refers to the lighter color of the coffee beans.

What is the Difference Between Blonde Espresso and Blonde Coffee?

The main difference between blonde roast coffee and blonde roast espresso is the method of preparation. Simply put, blonde roast coffee can refer to any number of coffee or espresso beverages, or it can refer to the actual beans that are used to make a coffee beverage. Blonde espresso refers to an espresso-based beverage that uses blonde roast coffee beans. 

How is Coffee Roasted?

What is the difference between light, medium and dark roasts?

No matter what coffee roast you prefer, it all starts with regular coffee beans. The difference in roast level depends on the amount of time the coffee beans are roasted. Green coffee beans are roasted at different temperatures and for different lengths of time resulting in their respective roasts of light, medium and dark roast. 

Generally speaking, light or blonde roast coffee is roasted the least. Medium roast coffee beans are roasted a little bit longer. Dark roast is roasted the longest. Light roasts are sometimes also roasted at a slightly lower temperature.

Light roast coffee is often referred to as cinnamon roast or blonde roast because of the color of the roasted beans. Light roasts tend to be lightest in color whereas medium and dark roasts will have a darker brown color.

What is the First and Second Crack?

During the process of roasting, two major events occur known as the first crack, and the second crack. The first crack is the first sound you will hear when roasting beans and is often compared to the initial “pops” you hear when making popcorn. After the first crack, the coffee continues to make crackling sounds but then subsides before a second wave of cracks occurs, known as the second crack. These two separate cracks sound similar but there are differences in what is happening on a chemical level.

The first crack is due to steam being released from the beans, whereas the second crack is due to cellular structures of the coffee rupturing. This results in a release of the coffee’s oils and is why dark roasts tend to be oilier. 

Coffee as we know it is typically consumed around the time between the first and second cracks.There is no hard and fast point at which a coffee becomes a light, medium or dark roast, but rather a spectrum at which coffee beans fall into one of these categories.

Light roasts are typically finished roasting around the first crack. Dark roasts are finished around the timing of the second crack. Medium roasts are finished between the fist and second crack. 

Which Coffee Roast has the Highest Amount of Caffeine?

An average shot of espresso has 63 mg of caffeine. This is actually less caffeine than a cup of regular coffee, which contains 95 milligrams of caffeine per cup. (If this is too much caffeine for your preference, you can always order it decaf.)

Lighter roast coffee beans have more caffeine compared to their darker counterparts. This is because caffeine decreases during the roasting process.

There has been some debate regarding to what degree caffeine is lost during the roasting process. Some studies have demonstrated a loss in caffeine content2, while others have shown caffeine content remains relatively stable throughout the process of roasting. The exact amount of caffeine lost during roasting may be influenced by the origin of the coffee beans. As an example, African coffee beans may have differences in caffeine and other properties compared to Latin American coffee beans. There needs to be more research to learn more about how exactly caffeine is influenced by the roasting process among different types of coffee beans.

What Does Blonde Espresso Taste Like?

Blonde espresso has a more delicate flavor compared to medium or dark roast coffees. Darker roasts have a more bitter and strong coffee flavor compared to the mellow flavor of medium and light roasts. Because of this, those who are new to drinking coffee may prefer lighter roasts compared to dark roasts. When the beans are roasted less, it allows some of the subtleties of coffee to stand out and you may even notice a fruity or citrusy flavor depending on the beans you use. 

Is Blonde Espresso Stronger?

Now that we have unpacked all there is to know about blonde (light) roast coffee, let’s answer the question, “Is blonde espresso stronger?” The answer is, it depends. If referring to the caffeine levels, yes, blonde roasts are stronger. If referring to the flavor, no, blonde roasts have a lighter body and sweeter taste compared to dark roast coffee beans.

How to Prepare Blonde Roast Coffee

Blonde roast coffee can be prepared using any brewing method you prefer to make coffee. If you are using blonde or lighter roast beans, you can use them to make espresso beverages, drip coffee or any other craft methods of preparing coffee. 

Espresso Machines

Blonde espresso beans work particularly well in super automatic espresso machines because they are less oily and are easier on the machines. Some super automatic machines will even recommend avoiding darker beans altogether for this reason. 

Moka Pot

If you want a shot of blonde espresso but do not have an espresso machine, the best way to make a similar substitute is by using a moka pot. Moka pots contain two main chambers stacked one on top of the other, and between them is a basket that holds ground coffee. The bottom chamber is filled with water and heated over the stove. When the water gets heated, the steam is forced through the coffee basket into the upper chamber, creating a brew that has a similar flavor profile to a shot of traditional espresso.

silver moka pot with the lid open, revealing fresh brewed coffee in the upper chamber
Moka Pot

Other Brewing Methods

Blonde roast coffee can also be made in a french press, pour over, and standard drip coffee maker. You can use them just as you would any other roast of coffee and use the same proportions.


Blonde espresso roast coffee is becoming increasingly popular among coffee lovers. Blonde espresso comes from light roast coffee beans that are used to make a blonde espresso shot and can be used in the same way as regular espresso beans. The next time you head to your local coffee shop, ask the barista if they offer any blonde espresso drinks. I think you will be sold on this type of espresso!

If you are looking for a delicious snack to pair with your blonde espresso, try one of these recipes:

Vegan Zucchini Muffins with Lemon Glaze

Vegan Banana Chocolate Muffins

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