SEATTLE -- Starbucks Coffee Co. began serving its new Blonde Roast -- a lighter roast color than its familiar dark and medium roasts -- nationwide on Jan. 10.
The milder roast aims to bring in new traffic for the Seattle-based coffeehouse chain, which has built its name on its "bolder" dark-roasted style of coffee. Starbucks said the Blonde roast represents a $1 billion opportunity to serve an estimated 54 million coffee drinkers in the U.S. who say they prefer a lighter roast.
"Starbucks Blonde Roast is our answer to providing a premium lighter roast coffee to appeal to those that describe Starbucks' signature roast as too intense," said Jeff Hansberry, president of channel development for Starbucks. "This new roast profile will allow us to increase our share of the brewed coffee market down the grocery aisle, where a majority of coffee sales are in the light and medium roast categories."
Starbucks Blonde Roast is offered in two varieties: Veranda Blend, described as "mellow and soft," and Willow Blend, characterized as "bright and clean" and also offered in a decaffeinated version.
Brewed Blonde coffee is now available nationwide in company-operated stores. The lighter roast is also available in whole-bean packages in Starbucks shops, grocery stores and retail outlets, as well as in Keurig K-Cups and as Via Ready Brew instant coffee.
Starbucks also announced a change in packaging for its products in retail stores designed to make it easier for customers to select their favorite roast style: dark, medium or blonde.
From Jan. 12 to 14, Starbucks is inviting coffeehouse customers to "Find the Roast You Love Most" by tasting sample-size cups of the new Blonde roast alongside its dark and medium roasts. Those who participate will receive either a sample of the Blonde coffee to brew at home or a $1 coupon good toward any Starbucks coffee.