After 40 Years, Starbucks Releases New Espresso

Starbucks has officially "mellowed out," ushering in a mild, light-roast espresso blend to its shops across the U.S. on Jan. 9, the first espresso option added to the company's U.S. menu in more than 40 years. Known widely for dark roast coffee -- bold-bodied and bitter -- the coffee chain is offering a light Blonde Espresso for an "easier" coffee-drinking experience.

Customers can now choose between a "Starbucks Signature" or "Starbucks Blonde" espresso for any of the chain's beverages like lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, Americanos, macchiatos or shots. Beverages were already customizable, as evidenced by Starbucks' best-kept secret menu that features over 200 drink recipes and counting. Starbucks beverages can be custom-fitted even more now.

Coffee-drinkers with a distaste for Starbucks' signature full-bodied roasts will especially enjoy blonde roasts, which have a light-bodied profile, contrary to Starbucks' traditional dark roasts. Andrew Linnemann, vice president of Global Coffee for the coffee company, said in a press release that the lighter alternative has a "bright taste with sweet citrus notes and a smooth body" and is breaking Starbucks' long-held rule with full-bodied roasts.

Avid Starbucks drinkers raise their noses to Americans who can't handle the chain's overly bitter coffee profiles, lest they are drowned in the works -- half dozen pumps of mocha syrup and powder, whipped cream frosted skyward, a caramel sauce drizzle for good measure, all thoroughly diluted with soy milk. Sensitive palates are sure to welcome Starbucks' light roast without all the bells and whistles, perhaps saving a few calories in sweeteners.

Blonde Espresso, the company says, sources beans from Latin America and East Africa, after which they're roasted to peak flavor for a balanced, subtle coffee.

Third-wave cafes have treated blonde roasts with the same critical care and snobbiness as sommeliers. Alongside artisanal foodstuffs and elaborate drip apparatuses, blonde roasts have been peddled by "coffee artisans" for years.

Starbucks, all things considered, was a little slow on the draw, offering blonde roasts since 2012 everywhere else but the U.S. In Canada, Austin, Texas, and Tampa, Florida, locations, Blonde Espresso was received with overwhelming reviews, sparking the company to do a full rollout now in the U.S. at all 8,000 company-run stores beginning Jan. 9.