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Starbucks Master Roasters Discuss New ‘Blonde’ Roast

Starbucks, whose dark, rich roasts have earned the company the unflattering nickname Charbucks among some coffee aficionados, made headlines last week when it introduced its “Blonde,” a lighter roast that will debut in stores and cafes in January.

Corporate maneuvering aside, one of the most interesting components of the announcement was the Nielsen research cited by the coffee giant. The 2010 research suggests that more than 40 percent of U.S. coffee drinkers – or approximately 54 million consumers – prefer a lighter roast. Additionally, more than 70 percent of total premium coffee sales in grocery are in the light and medium roast categories.

In this video, see two longtime master roasters at Starbucks discuss the development of the new light roast, which they say went through some 80 iterations before the roast profile was perfected:

From Starbucks:

SEATTLE, October 18, 2011 – In a five-city press conference today, Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ:SBUX) announced the introduction of Starbucks® Blonde Roast, a completely new roast profile for Starbucks that builds on its 40-year heritage of sourcing and roasting the world’s finest coffee.

As with the successful introduction of Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew in the instant coffee category, Starbucks recognized an opportunity to attract new customers as well as meet needs of existing customers looking for a lighter roast coffee. More than 40 percent of U.S. coffee drinkers – or approximately 54 million consumers – prefer a lighter roast coffee.* Additionally, more than 70 percent of total premium coffee sales in grocery are in the light and medium roast categories.**

“We recognized the unmet consumer need for a super-premium light roast coffee, and our coffee developers went to work to craft a great-tasting, quality lighter roast coffee we are proud to stand behind,” said Cliff Burrows, Starbucks president of the Americas. “This is a significant opportunity for Starbucks to gain a greater share of the brewed coffee market – both in our stores and down the coffee aisle.”

Starbucks® Blonde Roast coffee supports Starbucks growth strategy to innovate with new products, enter new categories, and expand into new channels of distribution.

Available beginning in January 2012 at Starbucks retail stores and where groceries are sold, Starbucks® Blonde Roast will be brewed in stores and available in whole bean, roast and ground, as well as in Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew and K-Cup® Portion Packs.

“Consumers trust the Starbucks brand to deliver on quality and taste,” said Dub Hay, senior vice president, Global Coffee Authority for Starbucks. “Through 80 variations we perfected the Blonde Roast curve and developed the exact taste we were striving for. The proof is in the cup, and we are confident coffee drinkers will agree.”

The name Starbucks® Blonde Roast reflects Starbucks roasting artistry and style and indicates a coffee that is light bodied and flavorful. Coinciding with the launch of Starbucks® Blonde Roast in January is the introduction of new coffee packaging organized by roast – Starbucks® Blonde Roast, Starbucks® Medium Roast, and Starbucks® Dark Roast.

“Not only does Starbucks® Blonde Roast provide Starbucks with an opportunity to reach a new category of coffee drinkers within the $5.6B U.S. packaged coffee category, but by organizing our coffees by Blonde, Medium, and Dark, it makes it easier for our customers to find the taste that appeals to them,” said Jeff Hansberry, president, Channel Development for Starbucks. “This is important, since the average consumer spends about 60 seconds in the coffee aisle to make a purchasing decision, based on taste and intensity. We believe the result for Starbucks will be an increased share of the coffee market.”

*Starbucks Consumer Research 2010; **Nielsen, Nov. 2010

About Starbucks Corporation

Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting the highest-quality arabica coffee in the world. Today, with stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at


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