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Blonde Espresso vs Regular: The Key Differences

In the world of coffee, the landscape is ever-evolving, with varying flavors and techniques continually vying for attention. With everything from classic coffee favorites to incredible espresso martinis, It can be tough to keep up with all the options.

Among the titans, the debate between blonde espresso and regular espresso is one that excites coffee aficionados and casual drinkers alike.

Let’s dive deep into this face-off, exploring the differences and maybe sipping on a cup or two… or three.

What is Blonde Espresso and Regular Espresso?

Blonde Espresso

Blonde espresso, often associated with the lighter roasts, breaks the stereotype that espressos have to be dark and strong.

This shot of caffeine, famously showcased by Starbucks as their Starbucks blonde espresso (also available as Nespresso Original Pods and Virtuo Line Pods), presents a smooth, subtly sweet flavor profile that’s both invigorating and pleasantly surprising.

The blonde espresso roast involves a roasting process that retains a lighter roast profile. This allows the natural flavors of the blonde espresso beans to shine through, contributing to a unique and mild flavor.

So, whether you’re savoring a solo shot of blonde espresso or a blonde latte, you’re in for a delightful, multi-layered experience.

Regular Espresso

On the other side of the ring, we have the traditional, regular espresso proudly flaunting its bold flavor. This dark horse of the coffee world gets its character from the dark roast coffee beans.

These regular espresso beans undergo a longer roasting process, resulting in a robust, intense flavor profile that forms the backbone of many a beloved coffee drink.

A shot of regular espresso can awaken your senses with its stronger flavor, often described as robust, full-bodied, and richly aromatic.

Whether these dark roasted beans are the star of your morning ritual or a cherished afternoon pick-me-up, they consistently deliver that timeless coffee experience that’s adored worldwide.

  Blonde Espresso Regular Espresso
Calories 2 per shot 3 per shot
Carbs Less than 1g per shot Less than 1g per shot
Fat 0g per shot 0g per shot
Caffeine Approx. 85 mg per shot Approx. 64 mg per shot

What is a Traditional Espresso?

Traditional espresso, often referred to as regular espresso, originates from Italy and stands as a benchmark in the coffee world.

Named after the Italian term for “express” or “fast,” it signifies the swift process of forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee under high pressure, a method devised to hasten coffee service in Italian cafes.

This brewing process, coupled with a fine grind size, creates a concentrated coffee beverage with an intense flavor, often consumed quickly for optimal taste.

The flavor profile of a traditional espresso is complex and robust, thanks to its typically dark roast. It’s characterized by full-bodied flavors with notes of dark chocolate, toasted nuts, and caramel, providing a rich-tasting experience with a pleasant bitterness and a lingering aftertaste.

The quintessential espresso shot is recognized by its crema – a creamy froth layer on the surface, enhancing its aroma and overall sensory pleasure.

Traditional espresso uses a blend of beans from various regions, ensuring a balanced flavor and consistent quality. The dark roasting process imparts an intense flavor and reduces the caffeine content compared to lighter roasts.

Whether enjoyed straight or used as the foundation for popular coffee beverages like cappuccinos, lattes, and Americanos, traditional espresso offers an enriched, timeless coffee experience revered by coffee lovers worldwide.

If you’re an espresso noob and are looking for your first home espresso machine, we highly recommend this one!

Or, if you want the experience of drinking delicious espresso with none of the prep work, check out our Nespresso machine recommendations.

Key Differences: Blonde Espresso vs Regular Espresso

To truly understand the nuances between these two types of espresso, let’s take a detailed look at the elements that define their unique profiles.

Roast Levels

The roast level plays a vital role in defining the character of both the blonde and regular espresso.

Lighter roast like blonde espresso undergoes a roasting process at a lower temperature and for a shorter period of time. This retains the unique, original flavors of the beans and results in a sweeter flavor, marked by subtle citrus notes and a lighter body.

On the contrary, regular espresso is a result of darker roasts.

Here, the coffee beans are roasted at a higher temperature for a longer period, often until they start to crack and oil appears on the surface. This process, called the Maillard reaction, imparts a darker color and a stronger flavor to the beans, resulting in a bold flavor that is the signature of regular espresso.

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Origin

The origin of coffee beans also plays a role in their final taste profile.

Blonde espresso often uses a blend of Latin American and East African coffee beans. The Latin American beans lend the espresso a hint of sweetness, while the East African beans add a touch of brightness and a slight citrusy tang.

On the other hand, regular espresso usually involves a blend of beans from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. This leads to a balanced flavor profile, with sweet, smooth, and slightly bitter notes.

Taste

Blonde espresso offers a unique flavor, treading on the sweeter side with hints of citrus, making it a popular choice among those looking for a milder flavor.

On the flip side, regular espresso shots are known for their bold flavor and richer, full-bodied experience. They have a robust profile, leaning towards a bitter taste that offers a more traditional coffee experience.

Caffeine Content

Contrary to popular belief, the caffeine levels in espresso shots can vary based on the roast level.

In the case of our contenders, blonde espresso often carries a higher caffeine content due to its lighter roast. The roasting process at a lower temperature for a shorter period of time allows more caffeine to be retained.

A typical shot of blonde espresso carries around 85 milligrams of caffeine.

Regular espresso, on the other hand, contains a bit less caffeine, owing to its darker roasting process. The intense heat and extended roasting time of dark roasted beans tend to reduce the caffeine content.

A shot of regular espresso generally contains around 64 mg of caffeine.

Bean Appearance

Blonde roast coffee beans appear lighter in color and have a dry surface. They are usually medium in size and have no oil on their surface, owing to the shorter roasting time.

Dark roast coffee beans used for regular espresso are larger, darker in color, and have an oily surface. The extended roasting time allows the oils in the beans to rise to the surface, giving them their shiny appearance and bold flavor.

Acidity

Blonde espresso, with its light roast, tends to have a higher acidity level than its darker counterparts. This higher acidity level often translates into brighter, citrus notes in the flavor profile.

On the contrary, regular espresso, with its dark roast, has less acidity. The longer roasting process neutralizes more of the acid in the beans, contributing to its intense flavor and fuller body.

Grind Size

Blonde espresso, being a lighter roast, tends to have a denser bean structure due to higher moisture content.

To ensure the right extraction rate, the coffee should be ground slightly finer compared to regular espresso. This helps to slow down the water flow during extraction, thereby preventing under-extraction and ensuring all the subtle flavors and nuances of the blonde espresso are fully released.

Regular espresso, which is usually a darker roast, generally requires a slightly coarser grind compared to blonde espresso.

As the beans lose moisture during the roasting process, they become less dense. A coarser grind helps control the water flow rate during extraction, ensuring it’s not too fast, which could lead to under-extraction and a weaker flavor.

In both cases, finding the perfect grind size might require some experimentation. The aim is to achieve a well-balanced, flavorful espresso shot.

Remember, the key is to grind the beans just before brewing to ensure maximum freshness and flavor.

Brewing Method

The brewing method for both blonde espresso and regular espresso is fundamentally the same, as they both follow the traditional Italian espresso preparation.

However, the variations in the beans’ characteristics, which are tied to their roasting profiles, may require slight adjustments (like the grind size mentioned above) to achieve the best possible taste.

Another important aspect to consider while brewing espresso is the temperature.

Lightly roasted beans are often brewed at a slightly lower temperature than dark roasts. This helps to highlight the beans’ delicate flavors, such as citrus notes or floral undertones, without burning them.

Higher temperatures on dark roasted beans facilitate the extraction of the robust and rich flavors that are characteristic of darker roasts, leading to a full-bodied and intense shot of espresso.

Use

Both types of espresso are versatile and can be used in various coffee drinks.

Blonde espresso, with its milder flavor and sweeter taste, works wonderfully in milk-based drinks. Its lighter body allows it to blend well with whole milk, creating a smoother and creamier beverage.

Regular espresso, with its bold flavor and stronger taste, is perfect for those who love their coffee intense. It works well with or without milk and is a favorite for espresso shots, Americanos, and other strong coffee beverages.

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Price

While prices may vary slightly depending on your location and choice of coffee shops, generally, the price difference between a shot of blonde espresso and regular espresso is minimal.

At most places, including your local Starbucks, you can expect to pay a similar amount for both.

Choosing the Right Espresso

Understanding the characteristics and unique traits of blonde and regular espresso is only the first step towards finding your perfect cup of coffee.

The final choice rests upon your personal preferences, lifestyle, and the experiences you seek from your espresso shot.

Let’s explore further how to find the best fit for you.

Best Espresso Type for You

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the best espresso type. Your perfect espresso shot is as unique as you are.

If you’re a fan of a stronger, robust flavor and a full-bodied coffee experience, regular espresso might be your perfect match. It offers a traditional coffee experience and a hit of intense flavor that many coffee lovers can’t resist.

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of subtler flavors, blonde espresso might be the choice for you.

Its sweeter, lighter flavor, with a touch of citrus, offers a refreshing alternative to the more robust regular espresso. Its higher caffeine content can provide an extra perk to your morning or afternoon coffee break.

Best for Beginners

If you’re just beginning to delve into the world of espresso, starting with the most intense flavors may not be the best approach.

A blonde espresso, with its milder flavor and less intense body, may serve as a gentle introduction. Its sweeter taste and the presence of subtle citrus notes can give you a taste of espresso’s complexity without overwhelming your palate.

On the other hand, if you already enjoy strong, dark coffee, jumping straight into regular espresso might work just fine.

The key here is to start with what you’re comfortable with, and then gradually expand your coffee horizons.

Check out our favorite espresso machine for beginners!

Or, for a fully automated experience, take a look through our favorite Nespresso machines.

Best for Weight Loss

Weight loss depends on a multitude of factors, but if you’re looking for a slight edge, the caffeine in blonde espresso can help. Caffeine can stimulate your metabolism and curb hunger in some people, which may assist in weight loss.

Since blonde espresso generally has slightly higher caffeine content compared to regular espresso, it could potentially be more beneficial if weight loss is your goal.

However, remember that a balanced diet and regular exercise are the most important factors for weight loss.

Also, be sure to enjoy your espresso without added sugars or high-calorie creamers to maintain its healthful benefits.

Highest Antioxidant Content

Both types of espresso are rich in antioxidants, but the lighter roast of blonde espresso tends to retain more of these beneficial compounds.

Antioxidants play a crucial role in protecting your body from damage by harmful molecules called free radicals. The higher antioxidant content in blonde espresso might give you an extra health boost with every sip.

Best for Sensitive Stomachs

Coffee can sometimes cause discomfort for people with sensitive stomachs, mainly due to its acidity and caffeine content. If you’re one of these people, blonde espresso might be a better option for you.

Its higher acidity level might be easier on your stomach compared to the bolder, darker regular espresso.

Furthermore, the sweeter flavor profile of blonde espresso can make it more palatable for those who find regular coffee too harsh.

However, it’s always best to consult a healthcare provider if you have any health concerns.

Common Espresso Brewing Mistakes

Crafting the perfect shot of espresso is both a science and an art. It involves several variables, from the type and roast of the beans to the grind size, water temperature, and brewing technique.

However, it’s easy to make mistakes in the process, especially when you’re new to brewing espresso.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

A. Uneven Distribution Before Tamping

The first step in the espresso-making process after grinding your beans is to evenly distribute the coffee grounds in the portafilter. This is an often overlooked but crucial step.

If the coffee grounds aren’t distributed evenly, water will find the path of least resistance during extraction, leading to under-extracted areas and over-extracted areas.

This is known as ‘channeling‘ and results in an uneven, poor quality espresso.

To avoid this, after filling the portafilter with coffee grounds, make sure to level the surface of the grounds by gently tapping the sides or using your finger to evenly spread the coffee.

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B. Excessive Polishing Causing an Unseated Puck

Polishing is the final step before extraction, where you twist the tamper to smooth the coffee’s surface in the portafilter.

However, excessive polishing can unseat the ‘puck’ of coffee grounds, disrupting the even distribution of coffee grounds you’ve just created.

This can cause the water to channel during extraction, leading to an uneven extraction and a sub-par espresso shot.

The key is to tamp the coffee grounds with even pressure and limit polishing to a single, gentle twist.

C. Rough Portafilter Handling Causing Damage to the Puck

Once you’ve tamped and polished the coffee in the portafilter, it’s essential to handle it with care.

Being too rough when inserting the portafilter into the espresso machine can disrupt or damage the puck, leading to uneven extraction.

Make sure to insert the portafilter gently and lock it into place with a smooth motion to avoid dislodging the coffee grounds.

This will help ensure that the water is evenly distributed through the coffee during extraction, leading to a well-balanced, flavorful shot of espresso.

Remember, like any skill, brewing the perfect espresso takes practice. Don’t be disheartened by initial mistakes. Instead, use them as learning opportunities to refine your technique and develop a deeper appreciation for the art of espresso brewing.

blonde espresso vs regular - espresso dripping into small glass

FAQs About Blonde Espresso vs Regular

Is blonde espresso stronger than regular espresso?

Strength in coffee can refer to two different things: caffeine content and flavor profile.

Blonde espresso generally has more caffeine per shot compared to regular espresso due to its lighter roast.

However, when it comes to flavor, regular espresso is often considered ‘stronger’ due to its more robust, full-bodied flavor profile.

So, while blonde espresso will give you a bigger caffeine kick, regular espresso delivers a bolder flavor.

Does blonde espresso taste better than regular?

Taste is highly subjective and depends on individual preferences.

If you prefer a milder, sweeter coffee with subtle citrus notes, you might find blonde espresso more enjoyable.

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of a more robust, full-bodied coffee with a stronger flavor, you might find regular espresso to be better.

The key is to try both and see which one suits your palate.

What is the benefit of blonde espresso?

Blonde espresso offers several benefits.

It tends to have a higher caffeine content due to its lighter roast, making it a good choice for those needing an extra energy boost.

It also tends to retain more antioxidants because of the lighter roasting process.

Taste-wise, blonde espresso offers a unique, milder flavor profile, which is ideal for those who prefer a less bitter coffee.

Its light body and sweeter notes also make it a great base for a variety of coffee drinks, especially those with milk.

What is the difference between blonde espresso and latte?

A blonde espresso is a type of espresso made from lightly roasted beans, known for its sweeter, more nuanced flavor and higher caffeine content.

A latte, on the other hand, is a type of coffee drink that typically contains one or more shots of espresso (which can be blonde or regular) and steamed milk.

So, a blonde espresso latte would be a latte made using blonde espresso shots.

What is the strongest espresso at Starbucks?

In terms of caffeine content, Starbucks’ Blonde Roast Espresso contains the most caffeine per shot.

However, in terms of flavor, the darker roasts, like the Signature or Italian Roast, offer a more robust, intense taste.

So depending on whether you’re looking for a caffeine kick or a bold flavor, you might choose different espresso roasts at Starbucks.

What espresso is strongest?

As mentioned before, the ‘strength’ of an espresso can be measured in terms of flavor or caffeine content.

Darker roasts like regular espresso have a stronger, more robust flavor due to the intense roasting process, while lighter roasts like blonde espresso have higher caffeine content due to their shorter roast time.

What’s the strongest caffeine coffee at Starbucks?

The coffee with the highest caffeine content at Starbucks is the Blonde Roast coffees, including the Blonde Espresso.

However, menus and offerings may vary by location and over time, so it’s always a good idea to ask your barista if you’re looking for the most caffeinated option.

blonde espresso vs regular - dripping espresso out of a machine

Our Final Word

The world of coffee is full of exciting variations and nuanced flavors, and the choice between blonde and regular espresso serves as a testament to that diversity. Whether you’re a fan of the sweeter, milder blonde espresso or the bold, robust regular espresso, there’s no denying that each offers a unique experience for coffee lovers.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. So, why not try both? Your perfect cup of coffee might just be a sip away!


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