Recommended: Starbucks Veranda Blend as a shot of espresso
A downtown Seattle partner recently mentioned to me that Veranda Blend makes for a wonderful shot of espresso! I wanted to try this out for myself. As it turns out, Roy Street Coffee and Tea is now pulling Veranda Blend as their default espresso option for espresso beverages in their store. (For those who don’t recall, Roy Street is a coffeehouse operated by Starbucks).
I dropped by Roy Street this morning (January 21, 2013) and decided to check it out. I ordered simply a “tall latte” in for-here ware, and sat very close to the espresso machine and watched the action. Before I left, I also ordered a solo shot of Veranda Blend to make sure I was really experiencing it as an espresso.
It was wonderful! I know this sounds odd that a Latin American blonde roast profile might be great as an espresso, but I know from experience that some Latin American coffees make for beautiful shots. I have had Casi Cielo pulled as espresso and it is completely fantastic. And on several occasions, I have tried Pike Place Roast as a shot of espresso, and while it doesn’t excite me as a drip, I do like it as a shot of espresso. By the way, I definitely like Starbucks Espresso Roast brewed as a drip coffee too.
The Veranda Blend was extremely sweet and nutty as a shot. That’s not to say that I would order that every time. I still do like Starbucks Espresso Roast too. However, if you have a home espresso machine and you want to try something different, Veranda Blend is a definite must try.
It would not surprise me if someday we see Veranda Blend (or some other blonde roast profile coffee) available at Starbucks as option for your espresso beverages. There’s a reason why I say this: First off, it wouldn’t be that hard to do – Starbucks could use a decaf hopper in one of the two machines that most stores have and put Veranda Blend in it. Also, we know that Starbucks has experimented with offering other coffee blends as shots. Most recently, a Starbucks in Portland, Oregon was a test for Guatemala Antigua as a shot of espresso. Furthermore, it has been in the news that Starbucks now offers a blonde roast espresso in France. When I add all that up, it just seems totally plausible that someday we are going to see Veranda Blend offered in Starbucks stores everywhere as an espresso coffee option. Of course, I’m making some big leaps here, and it’s always extremely risky to try predicting what Starbucks will do!
I took a photo of my latte, my solo shot of espresso, and also several blonde shots of espresso being pulled. By the way, I have always thought that there’s something especially beautiful about watching espresso shots being pulled! Enjoy!
Like the pics especially of the full cup with the design of the leaf.
Intelligentsia, a small but high end coffee chain in Chicago and LA uses a lighter roast profile for their espresso and it does something quite amazing in your mouth when you taste it. Also, you can purchase Guatemala Antigua Verismo espresso pods at some non Starbucks retailers like Bed, Bath, and Beyond. There’s something really unique about lighter roast espresso from Latin America- glad to see some discussion around it!
If you check out Starbucks Brewery Blocks on Facebook you can see that their Featured Espresso now is Casi Cielo. Makes for a nice mocha I hear.
Interesting! Im personally not a blonde drinker, but Im intrigued enough by this to try it.
I have to wonder if the Blonde would be better for use at the bar (and pour overs on request of customers)? The beans don’t sell well at my store. We get an ok number of customers buying it by the cup, but the numbers would never beat the amount of ppl buying PPR and the dark roast offering. Has anyone tried the Veranda or Willow as french press? What were your impressions?
ooh, i’ll have to give this a try! during christmas, my store drove christmas espresso blend sales by using it for espresso drinks – what an incredible shot it produces! thanksgiving blend was also quite delicious. i tried casi cielo, and didn’t care for it, but now i’m intrigued to try the blonde! thanks melody 🙂
@Melody: the big difference here, to me, is you’re talking about manual, hand pulled shots. That in itself makes a huge difference, I think. Every time I go to Intelligentsia, even tho a slightly lighter roast than what Sbux was built on, but decided to give up…or add these blondes to….. I think wow! I remember this taste! When Sbux went to the automated shot (here, it was ~ 2000?) we were all commenting: what happened? this doesn’t taste right. The overall initial consensus was: it takes 2 automated shots to equal one manual. And I still feel that way, not to mention the real “taste”. So, I think it’s more about the manual shots.
@DeniseR That’s a great comment. I remember when Pike Place Roast came out in 2008, and some people commented that it would be a good espresso shot – much better than as a drip. I ran down to 1912 Pike Place Starbucks and I recall there was this great ASM there at the time who would pull PPR as an epresso shot for you. Obviously, I couldn’t do this at anything other Starbucks because the only Starbucks near me in 2008 with a manual machine was 1912 Pike Place. True, it’s way better as a solo shot than drip coffee! I did that several times – that ASM (I think his name was Mike) was fantastic – we did that several times. I think the ASM went to a different store – I heard he ended up in West Seattle, so definitely not where I go.
The only way or me to really test this would be to get down to Portland to the Brewery Blocks where they pull Guat Antigua in the Mastrena and see how that tastes. Generally speaking, I don’t think that the shots from the Mastrena are bad, but I can agree that hand-tamped shots are amazing, if done exactly right.
On the Facebook side of this blog, there is a partner who says he tried Veranda in the Mastrena and loved it. I think the most important thing-whether a manual shot or not -is just taking a lot of care to pull a good shot.
I just pulled a shot of Christmas Blonde roast at home, and it was great! Very bright and delicious, with a very nice crema to boot! If any customers or partners have this coffee available and want to try something different with it, definitely pull a shot!
I’m interested to try this with the Veranda Blend! Something tells me Willow may not be great as an espresso shot, but I am interested in brewing it iced instead! I remember Chicago tested Iced Willow Blend as a core offering last summer. I’ll have to try myself! 😉
Maybe a large, online tasting event similar to the “42 Day Coffee Challenge” held a few years ago can happen again, with fun and different tastings like this being included!
Nice option, I wouldn’t think that a blonde roast would make a good espresso. Anyway, its always exciting to try new blend as an espresso. Maybe Sumatra next? LOL… =P
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Very cool! I am not a big fan of Veranda, but I’d love to try it as espresso! (It’s not that I don’t like the Blonde Roast…I love Willow, but not Veranda.)
I remember when I was a new partner having one of my coworkers suggest Espresso Roast as a French press. I was blown away by how the smoothness really comes through.