If it wasn’t for a Starbucks location near me while I was in college, I may be writing a tea blog now. Okay, that’s crazy talk, but I have to give the corporate giant credit for introducing me to the next level of coffee back then.
I enjoyed their calorie filled latte drinks, but rarely their coffee so after I cut out the sugary indulgences I also stopped visiting them. Not that they’ve given me many reasons, their customer service has fallen to the level of McDonald’s (don’t get me started on their PR people) and their coffee disappointed with flavors of burnt to the crisp and extra bitterness.
I’ve been meaning to give their lighter roast, their Blondes a shot and to see if it was any better. Last week, when I had absolutely no coffee in the house, I picked up a bag of their Willow Blend and it was time to give them a chance to see if the lighter roast made a difference.
Background From The Roaster
We’ve gently coaxed the sparkling flavors out of this blend of Latin American and East African beans with a unique lighter roasting style. Starbucks Blonde Roast was developed by our master roasters especially for those beans whose delicate flavors reach their pinnacle at a shorter roast time. The bright, crisp flavor and subtle complexity shine through beautifully to create a breezy, deliciously easy-to-drink cup.
Tasting Notes: Bright & Clean
Region: Multi-Region Blend
I’m not going to complain about how those aren’t really tasting notes and that the origins of the beans is really, really vague. I’m not, I swear. Nor am I going to complain about how they make up their own names for roast levels, hey it works for them.
I opened the bag, half expecting to find their burnt beans, complete with chaff. However, the beans were a brown honest to God medium roast.
As far as the actual coffee, it didn’t start bad. It greeted my nose with a pleasant aroma, but not much stood out in it. There were bland hints of chocolate, honey, spice and a herbal mix.
The body reminded me of a light syrup. Then I discovered that bitter taste that reminds me all too much of Starbucks. It did smooth out some when it cooled down, but there was still a noticeable bitterness there.
As far as taste, nothing really stood out there besides that often complained about roasted, smoked flavor. There may have been hints of spices…maybe.
I do all of my reviews with the French Press, however this time I did a second batch with my Chemex this time to see if it would bring out any other flavors or change the levels of bitterness. The characteristics of the tastes was just about the same but it did reduce the level of bitterness to drinkable.
A pound of Willow Blend will cost you $12.95. The price tag is mostly for the logo on the bag, for that amount I can think of about a hundred other coffees I would have before this one.
Starbucks Blonde Willow Roast earned a less than average 2.5 on the Daily Shot Of Coffee scale. Sure it has caffeine and it’s better, than their overly roasted regular coffees, but that isn’t saying much, From the lack of flavor and degree of bitterness, I’m guessing that these beans are nowhere near the cream of the crop.