Starbucks, the company sometimes disparaged as "Charbucks" for its ultra-dark coffee roasting techniques, is answering both critics and a market opportunity with a pending blend it announced this week: Starbucks Blonde Roast.
This light roast coffee category, which Starbucks characterizes as "light bodied and flavorful" will be available in January 2012. The initial "Blonde" blends will be known as Veranda Blend and Willow Blend.
As a rationale for its new roast, Starbucks points to its own 2010 research, which found that "more than 40 percent of U.S. coffee drinkers...prefer a lighter roast coffee," and Nielsen research in the same year that found "more than 70 percent of total premium coffee sales in grocery are in the light and medium roast categories."
Starbucks has increasingly focused on its grocery-store customers with products such as VIA Ready Brew (Starbucks' version of instant coffee); out of the gate, there will be a Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Veranda Blend to represent the Blonde roast initiative.
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