Not all coffee drinkers can answer the question, “What is blonde roast coffee?”. Because it’s a light roast, medium and dark roast fans might be less familiar with blonde roast coffee. Whatever your roast preference may be, it’s worth learning about blonde roast coffee if you are interested in further developing your coffee palate.
What is the origin of the term “blonde roast”?
Although it is unclear how the term originally came about, the coffee brand giant Starbucks had a hand in making the “blonde roast” name popular. However, the term is more recent than the roast itself. It was once known as Cinnamon Roast, but people began drifting away from this name as many thought it referred to the taste and not the color of these lightly roasted beans.
Blonde roast is also known as Light City, Half City, and New England Roasts.
What makes it different from other light roast coffees?
Blonde roast coffee is commonly known as the lightest roasted coffee, some even referring to it as “lighter than light roast.” However, this is not always the case and can vary by brand or roaster. For example, if you inspect the color of Starbucks’s blonde roast beans, you may notice that it is closer in color to a medium roast coffee from other roasters.
Other roasters make no distinction between blonde roast and other light roast coffees.
To understand what Blonde Roast coffee is, let’s start with its taste attributes.
Some find that it has a sour taste to it. This taste is due to its higher perceived acidity or brightness. Many describe the taste of blonde roasts as lemony or citrusy. Others find it has a subtle taste of toasted grain with a hint of sweetness.
Most importantly, a good blonde roast will reward a coffee drinker with the intricate flavors of the original coffee fruits. Food journalist Oliver Strand describes light roast coffees, similar to blonde roasts, as “naked” because the true flavors of the beans are allowed to shine through. These flavors are not masked or altered as they are in darker roast coffees.
A coffee’s body affects the flavor you experience. Blonde roast coffee is not only a lighter roast, but it has a lighter body.
What is the roasting process for this roast level?
Roasting green coffee beans to an optimal blonde roast level takes patience. For the best results, you should roast the beans at a lower temperature over a longer period instead of rushing the process at a higher temperature.
We recommend roasting the beans at a starting temperature of 300℉ and slowly raising the temperature to 400°℉. By allowing the temperature to rise slowly, you won’t rush the first crack. Hastening the roasting process could result in overly acidic beans because the CO2 and acids aren’t given enough time to escape before the first crack.
A properly roasted blonde roast coffee will barely enter the first crack. Because roasters try to stop the roasting process before or during the first crack, blonde roasts run the risk of being underdeveloped during the roasting process. Experts consider coffee beans underdeveloped if they have a green or grassy taste.
Blonde Roast coffee tastes best when you roast it using premium coffee beans.
As mentioned, roasting disguises the distinct flavor characteristics of coffee from different regions. That’s why fans of premium coffees tend to lean towards lighter roasting so that they can enjoy the unique flavor profiles of a particular region.
If you are a home roaster looking to create a blonde roast, be sure to take particular care in the roasting process. If poorly roasted, it will be void of any sweetness and likely have a hay or grassy taste to it. Some have even described it as tasting like boiled peanuts.
This roast works best with Arabica beans because lighter roasting protects the original flavors of their coffee bean fruit. The roasting won’t hamper the intricate flavors of high-quality beans from countries such as Ethiopia.
These green coffee bean are great candidates for blonde roasting:
Yemen Mocca Haimi
Ethiopian Guji Org. Natural Gr. 1 – Kayon Mountain Shakiso
In general, Robusta beans are considered to be of lower quality relative to Arabica beans. They are easier to grow and, therefore, are more affordable. Many times they are used as fillers in coffee blends. Robusta’s harsh taste makes them a great candidate for dark roasting because doing so covers up the bitter and rubbery origin taste of these beans. Dark roasting brings out the toffee, caramel, or dark chocolate flavors in coffee beans.
Some say that Blonde Roast coffee offers health benefits other roasts may not.
Besides the higher level of antioxidants (from CGA) that light roast coffees tend to have, blonde roast coffee also has a thin outside layer called silverskin or chaff. This silverskin is an antioxidant source, and some believe it to have similar health benefits to Vitamin C. Some also think it has anti-inflammatory effects and is a good fiber source. Although the health benefits of silverskin decrease when you brew the coffee, some of them remain.
This silverskin, or chaff, is burned away in darker roast coffees.
There are other distinguishing attributes of blonde coffee roasts that are apparent in the grinding and brewing processes.
Like other light roasts, blonde roast coffee beans are harder and denser than darker roast coffees because the shorter roasting time prevents more moisture from escaping. Also, dry parts of the coffee bean turn into gases during the roasting process, making them less dense than beans roasted for a shorter period, such as blonde roasts.
The higher density of blonde roast beans makes it harder to grind. We recommend using a high-quality burr grinder to grind these beans. Regularly grinding blonde roast coffee beans will wear down your grinder over time.
Check out this high-quality burr grinder:
Coffee Grinder – Baratza Sette 270
Blonde roast also requires adequate brewing time to fully extract the intricate flavor profile that light roast fans love. Coffee experts suggest using the pour-over brewing method to allow for optimal extraction. The pour-over method gives you more control over the brewing process, with slower water pours over the coffee grounds. This slower process allows for more flavor extraction.
Here are some recommended options to help you perfect your pour-over brewing:
Bodum 8 Cup Pour-over – W/ Stainless Filter
Chemex Funnex 15 Ounce Double Wall Coffee Brewer
It doesn’t look this light roast’s popularity will be declining any time soon.
According to a recent study by the National Coffee Association (NCA), medium roast coffees continue to be the most popular. However, the growing trend and availability of specialty coffees make it likely that blonde roasts will remain beloved among light roast coffee drinkers.
If you are a light roast coffee fan or you’re curious about blonde roast coffees, we at Burman Coffee Traders can help you. Contact us, and our experts can help you find the right green coffee beans to roast and the perfect equipment to get you on the road to enjoying a flavorful cup of blonde roast coffee.