What espresso does Starbucks use? (Is Starbucks espresso roast actually espresso? + More information)

If you enjoy Starbucks coffee, you have very likely had an espresso or an espresso-based coffee beverage. The flavor is distinctively Starbucks’, which leads to the question, “What espresso does Starbucks use?”

Starbucks uses a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans to make their Signature espresso. I did not always know this, until quite recently. I had a chance to sit with a former master roaster and took the opportunity to ask the one thing about Starbucks espresso I was most curious about. I learned quite a bit and would like to share what I now know, starting from the brand of espresso to the process used to achieve the flavor richness with caramelly notes that you love so much.

What brand of espresso does Starbucks use?

The company uses its own Starbucks Signature brand of Dark Espresso Roast. The blend formula was developed in 1975 by David Olsen and has never been changed, almost five decades on. A light Blonde espresso blend was introduced in 2018, and a Decaf variant can be found in most stores starting in 2022.

Starbucks uses this espresso for all their espresso-based coffees, including Caffe Latte, Cappuccino, Americano, Macchiato, and Mocha. You can buy Starbucks Dark Espresso Roast beans at the coffee store or online. You can even request them to grind the beans upon purchase at the shop, which they will happily do.

What does Starbucks use for espresso shots?

Is Starbucks espresso roast actually espresso?

Starbucks uses its Signature Espresso Roast for all espresso shots unless the drink you are ordering calls for Blonde Espresso or Decaf. The Signature Espresso Roast by Starbucks is dark, made by roasting the blended beans for longer to extract the flavor and give it the dark color we associate with Starbucks espresso. The result is a drink that has slight acidity and carries some fruity, rich caramel sweetness. The strong scent is almost as important as the pleasant taste.

The Blonde Espresso is one of the other two alternatives. I have found it to be a smoother and lighter espresso, and I love it, especially with milk. If you do not particularly care for the bitter taste of coffee, then a drink with the Blonde espresso will fit you perfectly. It has a softer taste with citrusy notes and a softer scent.

The Decaf Espresso is the new kid on the block. It is made using Starbucks Decaf Espresso Roast beans that have been decaffeinated. Although Starbucks has not disclosed the process used to make the decaf, it is widely believed that a chemical process is used. This espresso option is good for you if you just want the coffee taste but not the extra energy associated with a coffee drink.

Is Starbucks espresso roast actually espresso?

The answer can be a “Yes” or a “No”, depending on what you regard an actual espresso to be. It is’ Yes ‘, Starbucks espresso roast is actually espresso if you consider espresso to refer to the way it is prepared. It is a ‘No’, Starbucks espresso roast is not actually espresso if you consider a true espresso to be made strictly from Arabica beans.

Starbucks Signature Espresso is made using a mix of Robusta and Arabica beans. It is an Espresso by definition of how it is prepared. First, the beans are roasted for a longer duration of time, typically past the second crack, to achieve a deeper flavor. This also eliminates a lot of the acidity and enables them to release more oils.

The second defining factor is the grind, which is normally much finer—as fine as sand—because the hot water is applied for only a short time.

Next is brewing. Espresso making entails a precise type of brewing process. It requires high pressure to extract the taste. An espresso machine works best. A regular coffee pot will not do.

Lastly, is the taste. Because it is a blend, espresso made in this way ends up having the good body and rich flavor that Arabica beans are known for, but also high caffeine content and crema, a characteristic of Robusta beans that espressos are highly valued for.

However, some coffee lovers argue that Starbucks’ espresso is not real espresso because it is not made with 100 percent Arabica beans. Arabica coffee beans tend to produce coffees with good body and rich flavor. Most popular premium gourmet coffee choices are made using Arabica beans.

Final Thoughts 

Espresso is used as the base for most caffeinated drinks at Starbucks. If you are a Starbucks coffee fan, then you will appreciate the company’s blend that appeals to a good number of people. If you are particular about coffee beans, then now you know that Starbucks Espresso is a carefully balanced mixture of beans.

FAQ Section

Where does Starbucks get their espresso?

Starbucks Signature Espresso beans are from multiple Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions. The Blonde Espresso is made using coffee beans from East Africa and Latin America.

Can you order just espresso at Starbucks?

Yes, you can order a single shot or two shots of espresso. To pre-order online or using the Starbucks App, go to the menu, select hot coffees, then espresso shots. Choose Espresso and then edit to get one shot or leave it as it is with the default two shots. Still under customizations, select ristretto or long shot. For a ristretto, you’ll get just as much coffee with half the water. Check out and enjoy! 

What Kind of Espresso Machine Does Starbucks Use?

Starbucks currently uses the Mastrena II, which is a super-automatic bean-to-cup espresso machine developed exclusively for Starbucks by the Swiss company Thermoplan AG. Before this, Starbucks used different semi-automatic and automatic espresso machines, including Nuova Simonvelli, Breville, De’Longhi, Rancilio, Slayer, and the La Marzocco brands.

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