Starbucks blondeStarbucks (SBUX) introduced the American consumer to high-powered gourmet coffee, and even somehow convinced us to use words like "venti" when ordering large caffeinated beverages.

Now, the coffee giant hopes we'll become accustomed to a new lighter roast that it calls Blonde.

Do Americans Prefer Blondes?

Starbucks thinks it's worth a shot to find out. There are plenty of holdouts out there who prefer lighter, less robust coffees. The complaint among those who don't dig Starbucks' fare is that the brew tastes "burnt," or in the language of coffee connoisseurs, "bold."

Even Consumer Reports has busted on Starbucks brew. In August the magazine delivered a humiliation, stating that a cup of Walmart's (WMT) medium-roast Great Value 100% Colombia brewed coffee tasted comparable to Starbucks.

So yes, it might be time for Starbucks to try on something more tasteful. The company says it spent eight months exploring 80 different recipe and roast versions before it hit on what it says its customers wanted: "a flavorful, lighter-bodied coffee that offers a milder taste and a gentle finish." The company also uses words like "mellow" and "approachable" to describe the new Blonde roast.

Starbucks blonde

Battle of the Brews

Starbucks isn't just aiming for its own loyal customers with the Blonde roast, which will be available in its own cafes as well as in grocery stores. That would just be preaching to the caffeinated choir. It's really trying to turn all those people who prefer rivals' coffees to its own. The company will have the chance to see if Blonde has what it takes to attract new business this week during its "Find the Roast You Love the Most" tastings Thursday through Saturday.

Then again, this isn't just a taste test. Dunkin' Brands (DNKN) and McDonald's (MCD) coffee drinkers probably have another reason they stick with their lighter brews -- the price. It's going to take a really good cup of joe to convince the more budget-minded coffee drinkers to switch to Starbucks.

Motley Fool analyst Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks.




Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Investment Strategies

What's your investing game plan?

View Course »

Understanding Stock Market Indexes

What does it mean when people say "the market is up 2%"?

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

41 Comments

Filter by:
Susan

Starbucks is the worst tasting over priced coffee I have ever tasted. They can fancy up the stores and the names of the coffees all they want. It's still bad. I love my Keurig, fancy names, different makers and minimal expense.

January 15 2012 at 7:43 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
pimphamlu

Only gay men go to Starbucks.

January 15 2012 at 4:04 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pimphamlu's comment
narwhalmagic

Lots of straight men get laid thanks to Starbucks.
-an observant employee

January 15 2012 at 5:40 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
sundappled1

Poiking is where it's at, babyyyyyy! ;-D

January 15 2012 at 4:03 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
catherinedove

This is OFF topic but I NEED HELP - whether or NOT you are a TWILIGHT Fan please read and/or pass this article around regarding its seductive draw on girls/women and the dysfunctional ending of Breaking Dawn. Thanks, and SO sorry for all the Twilight fuss, World! Search "ExplainTwilightBreakingDawnEnding" on Blogger

January 15 2012 at 2:13 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
raidrmik67

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overdue IMO! Stopped by a Starbucks (only cause I have a gift card) and saw this on the menu, being a skeptic I got a small in a medium cup and had it topped off with hot water, it was mild enough I could have passed on the extra hot water but the author here makes a good point, Starbucks normal brew is awful tasting to me and I have to dilute it with about 25% water and I still don't care for it. Give me Yuban or Folgers anyday.

Oh yeah, when did a small freaking cup of coffee cost $1.65? I would never bother with Starbucks except I was given a gift card or if it's the only other option but when you're looking at close to $2 for a small cup of coffee give me a freaking break! That comes to what about $17 a gallon? Exxon has nothing on Starbucks!

January 15 2012 at 12:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to raidrmik67's comment
narwhalmagic

Starbucks costs more because it actually pays farmers decent wages to grow the beans. It also tastes better than anything Exxon has to offer. Have you ever tried to drink gas? Totally not worth it.

January 15 2012 at 5:45 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
fluteprincess

I'm not a fan of burnt coffee. Which is what all their flavors taste like to me. It's extremely bitter and obnoxiously strong. Unless you're somebody who REALLY likes black burnt coffee, it takes you endless amounts of sugar and cream to make it drinkable. Even at that, it'd do in a pinch if it weren't for the fact that the price is absolutely ridiculous. And the fact that starsmucks feels like they have to give everything foreign names to justify the extra $3 you pay for a terrible tasting cup of tar. I've been hoping they'd go out of business for years. Give me dunkins or wawa anyday. This is one case where the cheaper stuff tastes WAY better.

January 15 2012 at 12:34 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Grandma

mmm JUST FINISHED A CUP' Pumpkin Spice'

January 14 2012 at 11:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mbernst126

star bucks has good coffee but they are still high priced coffee beans. They cost more money than a serving of pizza

January 14 2012 at 10:31 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
scificarolinaguy

Month of ground coffee = $6.00
Month of flavored creamer = $6.00
Laughing at Starbucks customers overpaying for the same coffee = PRICELESS!!

I can open my refrigerator and choose from Chocolate Mocha Mint, Pumpkin Pie Spice or White Chocolate Raspberry for my coffee. I pay for a month supply of coffee what most Starbucks victims.. er.. customers pay in a day or two... and I laugh all the way to the bank.

January 14 2012 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe

I will try the lighter coffee

January 14 2012 at 8:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply