Blonde Espresso, Explained: What is This Coffee?

Nicole Austin

What's blonde espresso, and how is it different from regular espresso or white coffee? We explain.

I think the perfect coffee experience is owed to every avid coffee lover — after all, dedication to one’s morning cup of coffee is never to be questioned. Is blonde espresso right for you?

The problem with figuring out your ideal coffee is that there are so many varieties and ways to prepare it that it can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve tried to help guide our readers to some perfect solutions for their personal preferences or needs.

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Whether you’re looking for the perfect iced coffee from your French press or the best coffee to experiment with cold brewing at home, we’ve had your back. We even taught you how to thicken your coffee to make sure you have the exact texture and flavor profile you’re looking for, including sharing everything we know about bulletproof coffee.

We’d like to think of ourselves as your go-to for coffee questions, which is why it’s time to get into the world of blonde espressos.

You may have seen the term “blonde espresso” on the board at Starbucks and wondered what the heck it means — you’re not alone. There are many people who don’t know what a blonde espresso is, or some facts about blonde espressos, and we’re here to help.

We will also help you figure out whether or not a regular espresso or blonde espresso is right for you!

What is a Regular Espresso?

The term “regular espresso” means an espresso shot that is made from a commonly used roast, typically dark roast.

This is a strong coffee that comes from an espresso machine, where hot water is forced through fine coffee grounds using high pressure.

The roast level is part of the difference between blonde and normal espresso, but there are other key differences too, including caffeine levels, the amount of robust flavor, and availability in the United States.

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What Kind of Beans Are Used for Blonde Espresso?

Blonde coffee is not to be confused with white coffee, despite the similar names. Blonde coffee is made with lightly roasted beans, and white coffee is made from under-roasted beans. Confusing, I know. But stick with me.

You may have heard of blonde roast coffee being called “cinnamon roast,” but that has nothing to do with the flavor — it was a reference to the color of the roasted beans and coffee grounds.

Blonde espresso is the lightest available roast, which is heated to 385°F. Dark roast, in contrast, is heated to 473°F.

That helps explain the difference in taste and color between the two!

How Much Caffeine is in a Blonde Espresso Shot?

You may be wondering whether a regular espresso or a blonde espresso contains more caffeine. The answer is that blonde espressos contain more caffeine, and this is a direct result from the roasting process.

Blonde espresso beans are light roast, giving them more caffeine. Dark roasts tend to be stronger and have a harsher flavor. They are a more aggressive type of coffee, with an almost burnt fragrance and flavor.

Blonde roasts, on the other hand, are roasts that are smoother but contain more acid. This means that a blonde espresso is actually “stronger,” even though the flavor profile may not lead you to believe it.

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(Medium roast may be best for cold brew or making coffee in a Chemex, among other things.)

Dark roasts lose acidity during the longer roasting process, which lasts longer than other roasts, bringing the bean up to higher temperatures. This reduces the caffeine in the bean as well.

Many people associate a very strong, bold flavor with an espresso shot, but blonde espresso makes this unnecessary.

Blonde espressos contain about 10-20mg more caffeine per individual shot than normal espressos, clocking in at around 85mg as opposed to 64-75mg.

Can Blonde Espressos Be Decaf?

Now that you know how much caffeine is in an average blonde espresso shot, you may be wondering if it’s available in decaf.

Unfortunately, decaf blonde espressos are not a thing.

If you order a decaf blonde espresso at the counter, a barista may try to explain that this is not an option, or they will simply replace the blonde shot with a decaf coffee.

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Blonde Espresso vs. Regular Espresso

Here are some basic comparisons between blonde and regular espressos, so you can figure out what is right for you!

Flavor and aroma:

Dark roasts are bolder and tend to have a stronger flavor with more body, as the beans are roasted more deeply over a longer period of time.

These roasts sometimes contain notes of bittersweet chocolate, nuts, or caramel. Blonde espressos are made from lightly roasted beans, which produce a milder, lighter flavor.

This brighter roast often contains notes of fruit or floral hints, and while more acidic, may smell or seem sweeter. This brings us to our next section…


Blonde roast has a higher level of acidity than regular or dark roast coffee because the acidity of the bean is reduced with longer roasting times.

Darker roasts may present as richer and therefore seem more bitter or acidic, but in fact, blonde coffee would contain more acids.

This is an important distinction for people looking to avoid acidic foods in their diets, as they can trigger issues like reflux or ulcers. Regular espresso will give you more balanced acidity.

The good news is you can make coffee less acidic without ruining it.

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Things to Consider When Deciding Between Blonde and Regular Espresso

Keep these 3 things in mind as you pick your espresso type, too:

  • Your personal tolerance to caffeine. Blonde espresso has more caffeine.
  • How you’re preparing it. Regular espresso shots work best in lattes and cappuccinos, whereas blonde espresso shots are a popular choice for Americanos and espresso martinis.
  • What you’re adding. Blonde espresso does not mix well with a lot of milk, as the lighter flavor can be lost in the combination.
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What Are the Benefits of Drinking Espresso?

We can immediately think of 3 pros:

  • Helps provide alertness and concentration due to caffeine.
  • Has a delicious, rich taste that coffee lovers will enjoy.
  • Easily customizable to your liking.

What Are the Negatives of Drinking Espresso?

There are also downsides, depending on your perspective or situation:

  • Depending how you prepare it, it can be high in calories or fat. People who do not want a harsh flavor may add a lot of sweeteners or cream.
  • It can be more bitter than the usual cup of coffee.
  • Espresso tends to be expensive in coffee shops.
  • Requires an espresso machine to make from home.
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Do People Prefer Blonde Roast or Dark Roast Espresso?

Blonde espressos are trendy right now, largely because they were picked up by popular chains like Starbucks.

Diehard coffee fanatics may argue that espresso is best dark, and that blonde espresso doesn’t have a lot of practical applications in the coffee world. While the latter is a fact, whether or not coffee is “good” comes down to a matter of personal preference.

Some people drink only expensive or specific blends or combinations, whereas others prefer to have something completely different that may be considered a lesser coffee as far as expense and processing goes.

Coffee is meant to be enjoyed, so we recommend trying multiple different kinds to see which ones are best for you and your lifestyle.

In other words, it's a great choice for you if it's the variant of coffee you enjoy (and if you want a lighter body taste and the higher caffeine content)!

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Tips for the Best Espresso at Home

These 4 tips will help you make better coffee at home, meaning you’ll enjoy your espresso more!

  • Learn your machine: Becoming familiar with your machine will help you make the best espresso possible. Like any small kitchen appliance, every espresso machine is created differently and certain steps may need to be tweaked.
  • Use fresh coffee: It goes without saying, but fresh coffee tastes better no matter how it is prepared.
  • Keep your machine clean: Cleaning and descaling your espresso machine on a regular basis will remove residue, oils, and mineral build up from hard water. Don’t forget to do a clear water backflush if that applies to your espresso maker. We’ve compiled our best tips for cleaning your espresso machine to keep it in tip top shape.
  • Use the right water: Filtered tap water or purified bottled water will perform best in an espresso machine. Water that is purified or filtered will minimize the risk of mineral build up, as they contain trace amounts of mineral contents. Avoid distilled water, as it may taste flat due to lack of any minerals.

Now you’re ready to enjoy blonde espresso — or at least to decide if it’s a good choice for you next time!

Love coffee? Explore our ultimate coffee guide.

Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.

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