Starbucks Blonde Roast: More fun than the regular?

This week, Starbucks rolled out its new Blonde roasts. Like all blondes, these beans are lighter, brighter, more fun, more frivolous and not as smart. (I'm kidding, blondes! Calm down!) I don't often drink Starbucks Coffee, but I am familiar with the heavy, sharp roast that has become the coffee chain's signature flavor, and I was curious to see if the lighter roast would make Starbucks, well, palatable.

So. This morning, around 10:30am, I entered a Starbucks in Lincoln Park. I saw that two Blonde roasts were being sold on the shelves: Veranda and Willow. I asked the barista if he had both brewed.

"You're in luck," he said. "I just made a French press of the Willow."

(Sidenote: Since when does Starbucks do French press?)

He poured me a cup and I tasted it. And I liked it. It was bright and acidic but balanced and light. I inquired about the Veranda next.

"That was made in the drip machine," the barista told me. By his tone it was clear that he was passing some major judgement on drip machines. Not cool, his tone said. "It's basically the same as the Willow, but it won't taste as good as it would if it were made in the French press."

He poured me a sample and he was right: The Veranda tasted like I know Starbucks to taste—burnt and sharp and sporting a really awful, rusty aftertaste.

I bought a cup of the Willow, obviously. When there wasn't enough to fill a whole cup, the barista asked if I wanted it topped off with the Veranada. I said no, even though what I meant was "hell no." Another barista chimed in and said "It's basically the exact same." She was rolling her eyes when she said it. I still said no. Because while I don't doubt that the Veranda and Willow are very similar (which raises some obvious questions that I won't get into here), that Veranda was brewed in a way that made it taste like evil. Which is the way most Starbucks coffee is made, and which is why rolling out a new light roast won't help matters very much. What's the use of a lighter roast if you're just going to burn the beans in a drip machine?

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)