Starbucks goes Blonde to get more business

The coffee chain is introducing its lightest and mildest roast yet in an effort to reach more customers.

By Kim Peterson Oct 19, 2011 12:45PM
Many people have complained that Starbucks (SBUX) coffee tastes bitter or burned.

The coffee chain is trying to change that perception with Blonde, its lightest roast ever, and one it says is milder and less acidic. It's an attempt to reach that 40% of the U.S. coffee-drinking crowd that prefers a lighter roast, Reuters reports.

The move amounts to a land grab in the coffee market. Starbucks wants new customers and is breaking its Italian-inspired tradition of darker, heartier roasts to get them. "This is a significant opportunity for Starbucks to gain a greater share of the brewed-coffe market," the company said.

Starbucks shares were down nearly 2% Wednesday to $41.66. The company's stock price has soared more than 40% in the past year. One analyst looks at the share price run in the following video.

Post continues below.
Although Starbucks' cafes will brew Blonde daily, the new roast is more about supermarket appeal. More than 70% of all packaged coffees sold in grocery stores are either light or medium roast.

Starbucks already tried reaching more coffee drinkers in 2008 with its Pike Place roast, introduced as an "everyday" option. But it sounds like Pike Place wasn't a huge seller; the company later said it produced an incremental bump in sales.

Some people are criticizing the coffee as weak and watery. Gawker says Starbucks is catering to milquetoast America. "It won't be too long before America's precious tummy can't handle anything harsher than juice from its sippy cup," the site scoffed.

But analysts are generally positive, according to Deutsche Bank, because Starbucks will maintain its premium positioning and will price its packaged roasts by tier, with light at the bottom.

What do you think, readers? Will Blonde bring new customers and more revenue to Starbucks?

Tags: SBUX
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