Blonde Coffee: Lighter than light
Blonde coffee is any coffee roasted just before the first crack (or the temperature threshold where the coffee beans first emit a “cracking” sound, hence the name); therefore this makes it lighter than the more popular variants of the light roast coffee variants (such as the New England Roast). Blonde is often interchanged with the term “cinnamon roast” as they share very similar characteristics.
Back in 2012, Starbucks released their own take on the Blonde Roast, by distributing the Veranda Blend, which is popularly associated with having subtle, light-bodied, and mellow flavors. They took it a step further by categorizing their roasts into three tiers: Blonde, Medium and Dark. This is a bit of a misnomer as their variety of blonde roast more closely resembles medium roasts for everyone else in the coffee roasting industry. Also, this scale forgoes the use of light roast as the umbrella term for any roast from 180 °C up to around 205 °C or the point of first crack. This has sowed some confusion among American coffee drinkers as how some blonde roasts differ greatly from the popular Starbucks variant.
What makes blonde coffee different?
Due to the fact that blonde roasts are very lightly roasted compared to other light roast, they often highlight the origins of the coffee beans. This may indicate the greater variance between blonde roast flavors. Words often labeled with the blonde roast flavor are grassy, toasted grain, and sharp. Other characteristics of this roast are:
- Its flavors are very complex and there might be a profusion of tones depending on the origin of the bean. This is due to the fact that the beans are roasted before the point that the fruity and sweet notes from the original coffee berry is not burnt out.
- There’s a notable lack of caramel tones for the blonde roast because the sugars in the bean have just barely cooked enough to form the butter or caramel tones.
- This roast is on the high end of the acidity levels for coffee, clocking in at around 4.4 to 4.7 in the pH scale. In comparison most other coffee roasts are above 5 pH which is considered the “safe” acidity threshold for beverages.
- The beans are very hard. Coffee beans become progressively more brittle as you roast them as the cracking and the heat takes some density away from it. This makes the beans that have been roasted blonde hard and a bit more difficult to brew. Small grinders often suffer greater wear and tear over time as a result of this.
- Despite having a higher caffeine content than darker brews, the difference is marginal therefore not at all significant.
Is it healthy though?
Depending on your acidity tolerance, blonde coffee may or may not be good for you. If you have bouts of hyperacidity, then coffee should be avoided in general. Otherwise, just drink this coffee after a hearty meal and you’re set to counteract the above-average acidity for this brew. Although other creamers are good with blonde coffee, it is recommended that this variant should not be paired with soy cream since it will curdle due to the acidity. It should also be noted that blonde roasted coffee bean will always be more acidic than a darker roast of the same bean. This is because the more time a bean is roasted, the more the acidic compounds in the bean are broken down. This is important when considering the type of roast to pick when choosing from a singular coffee bean variant.
This coffee has some unique health benefits as well. Most of the original nutrients from the coffee cherry remain intact because the light roasting has not broken it up yet. Also, the antioxidants in this coffee are plentiful, so much so that it’s significantly higher than your average darker roast coffee. Darker roasts actually have a bit of a hazard with them as well. Burnt beans can destroy anti-oxidants as well as making carbon buildup (the cause of the bitter taste) an issue due to the fact that excessive amounts can be considered carcinogenic. Blonde roasts avoid this issue altogether due to their light and short roasting process. Together with the usual helpful effects of your average cup of joe, the blonde coffee certainly has great benefits for the health conscious.
What makes the blonde coffee popular?
Recent studies have shown that a little below half of coffee-drinking Americans like their coffee light. This among other factors, have contributed to the blonde roast becoming one of the most fashionable coffee orders recently. For the reason that taste as a sensation is very subjective, the love for blonde coffee can be also attributed to the fact that it offers great variety depending on the point-of-origin of the coffee bean. This also ensures that blonde coffee be made of the best quality. A few unscrupulous brewers mix in low quality beans with higher ones when making darker roasts because the burnt taste tends to mask the original flavor. For this reason stated above blonde coffee can’t be duped by this method.
Globally, lighter roasts are not as popular as the darker roasts. Different countries even have their own dark roasts named after them (i.e. French and Spanish roasts). Blonde roasts are fitting niche in the coffee-drinking community which is particular about the full-origin character of the coffee beans they’re brewing or drinking. Certain people like the rich fruity and green tones that are retained in the roasting process. Some would often label the coffee as sour or acrid mainly due to the fact of its high acidity but others actually prefer their coffee with this tartness.
With its acidity and peculiar characteristics of its myriad flavors, blonde roast coffee may not be for everyone. If you like to try something different from your run-of-the-mill cup of coffee, then the blonde roast is definitely something that could tickle your taste buds. Acquired taste or not, you could always enjoy your cup of blonde coffee with a rich breakfast and it’s sure to make your day a little lighter than light