Which is Best? Vanilla Latte vs Blonde Vanilla Latte

Hey, this is me, writing to you from the corner of Starbucks, drinking a vanilla latte.

A vanilla latte is a beloved drink on the Starbucks menu among coffee drinkers. It’s just one of those drinks that gets ordered again and again. However, now another drink entered the game, a blonde vanilla latte and the question is which is better (for you)?

The taste of coffee is something that is very personal and that is why I say “better for you”. I prefer a normal vanilla latte, but that is because I prefer darker roasts. But hey, that’s just me.

In this post, I’ll give you all the information you need to choose the one that is best for you.

What is a Vanilla Latte?

A traditional vanilla latte is a popular espresso-based drink made with espresso, steamed milk, and vanilla syrup. The rich and bold flavors of espresso and the creamy texture of steamed milk that is characteristic of a normal latte are enhanced by the sweetness of vanilla syrup.

What is a Blonde Vanilla Latte?

A blonde vanilla latte is a variation of the classic vanilla latte that is made using a different type of espresso known as “blonde espresso roast”.

So, in a blonde vanilla latte, the key difference to a normal vanilla latte lies in the espresso used. Blonde espresso is made from coffee beans that are lightly roasted.

These beans have a milder and smoother flavor profile compared to darker roasts. It also tends to be a bit more acidic and has more delicate flavors.

Coffee Bean Roasts

As I mentioned above, the difference between a vanilla latte and a blonde vanilla latte lies in the type of espresso used. A vanilla latte uses dark or medium roast espresso. On the other hand, a blonde vanilla latte is made with “blonde” espresso. This is why these two drinks are actually quite different in taste.

However, the question that then arises is what is the difference between the different roasts. Although the definitions of roast levels can vary among coffee roasters and regions, we can still establish a basic definition of each roast.

Dark Roast

A dark roast is a specific level of coffee bean roasting achieved by a longer roasting time at a higher temperature than lighter roasts.

It is the roast most often used for regular espresso. Starbucks’ signature espresso blend or their Caffè Verona Blend, for example, is a dark roast. (The Caffè Verona is actually also one of the blends that I really recommend.)

During the roasting process, green coffee beans undergo various chemical reactions that change their flavor and appearance. 

​To no surprise, dark roast coffee beans are quite dark in color. In fact, it is such a dark brown that it almost borders black. They also sometimes can appear a bit oily. This is the result of the longer roasting time which causes more oils to come to the surface of the beans.

Dark roast coffee usually has quite a bold and robust flavor. It often has smoky, rich, and bittersweet notes. Sometimes flavors such as chocolate, caramel, or in some cases even charred or burnt characteristics develop. It is quite full-bodied and has a heavier mouthfeel.

These roasts also tend to be more bitter than their lighter counterparts. This is because the longer roasting time can mellow out some of the acidity.

Some popular dark roast coffee varieties include French roast, Italian roast, and Spanish roast.

People who prefer coffee with a strong, bold, and less acidic flavor usually opt for darker roasts. It is commonly used in espresso blends. The reason for this is that the intense flavors can hold up well in espresso-based drinks made with a lot of milk, like lattes.

Medium Roast

Medium roast, as the name suggests is a level of roasting between dark and light. It is quite a balanced roast. Starbucks’ Pike Place Roast is one of these and also my favorite roast.

Pike Place coffee beans.

Medium roast coffee beans are medium-brown in color. It is darker than a light roast but lighter than a dark roast. They also look less oily than dark roasts.

In terms of flavor, medium roast coffee offers a balanced flavor profile. It mixes the characteristics of both light and dark roasts. It typically has a slightly more pronounced body and bolder flavors compared to light roasts. The flavor notes can include a combination of acidity, sweetness, and subtle hints of chocolate, nuttiness, or fruitiness, depending on the origin of the beans.

Medium roast coffee retains a moderate level of acidity, although it is usually lower than that of light roasts. The acidity brings brightness and liveliness to the coffee, providing a pleasant tanginess or crispness to the flavor.

This roast is quite versatile and suitable for many different brewing methods. Its balanced flavor and acidity make it well-suited for both black coffee and milk-based drinks such as lattes or cappuccinos.

Blonde Roast (Light Roast)

A blonde roast refers to a light roast profile for coffee beans. It is roasted for a shorter time at a lower temperature and is consequently lighter in color than darker roasts. Blonde roast is also known as light roast, cinnamon roast, or New England roast.

Starbucks’ blonde roast is actually quite nice and worth the try.

Starbucks blonde espresso in front of coffee cups.

Because of how they are roasted, these beans do not undergo significant caramelization or oil development during the roasting process.

Blonde roast coffee is known for its delicate and subtle flavor profile. Most often it has a lighter body and higher acidity compared to darker roasts. The flavors are often described as crisp, bright, and with more pronounced fruity or floral notes. 

Compared to other roasts, blonde roasts have a more acidic taste.

Of course, the origin of the beans has a great impact on the taste. The flavor profile can vary, ranging from citrusy and tangy to floral and tea-like.

The aroma of blonde roast coffee beans is often lighter and more delicate than medium and dark roast beans. The fragrance can be floral, fruity, or even herbal, reflecting the nuanced flavors of the beans.

People who enjoy a brighter and more nuanced coffee experience most often like a blonde roast better. Its lighter flavor profile allows the inherent characteristics of the coffee beans to shine through, with a focus on acidity, subtlety, and complexity. Blonde roast is particularly popular for single-origin coffees, as it allows the distinct flavors of specific regions or varieties to be showcased.

Caffeine Content of the Different Roasts

Contrary to popular belief, the roast level does not significantly impact the caffeine content of coffee. It is true that lighter roasts may retain a bit more caffeine due to the shorter roasting time resulting in a tiny bit higher caffeine content. But I really cannot tell you that a darker roast has less caffeine in than a lighter roast because it is not enough to make such a big difference. 

I can actually also not tell you that this one has so many milligrams of caffeine in and the other so many because factors including the origin and bean density influence the amount of caffeine greatly.

Vanilla Latte

This vanilla latte is a delicious and comforting beverage with a combination of espresso, creamy milk, and the delightful sweetness of vanilla. It can be enjoyed hot or cold, depending on personal preference.
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 168 kcal


  • Coffee grounds (use blonde roast for a blonde vanilla latte)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla syrup
  • 1 cup milk of choice


  • Pull one shot of espresso using a coffee machine (remember to use blonde roast for a blonde vanilla latte)
  • Add 1 tbsp of vanilla syrup (or to taste) to the espresso
  • Use a cup of milk (I recommend whole milk) and the steam wand on your espresso machine to create steamed milk
  • Pour the milk over the espresso for a smooth and rich base
Keyword Latte


As per usual you can customize your drink to your heart’s content. Here are some things that you can try:

  1. Adapt the number of espresso shots you use.
  2. Add more or less vanilla syrup to taste.
  3. Add ice to make an iced latte.
  4. Use milk alternatives like oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk

Iced Vanilla Latte

If you prefer iced coffee drinks, you can, of course, make an iced version of both of these drinks. All you have to do is add some ice cubes and you’re ready to go.

When making either of these drinks, I think coffee ice cubes are a great choice. My reason for this is that normal ice will water down your drink. Using coffee ice cubes is a great way to avoid this.

What If My Starbucks Doesn’t Actually Have It On The Menu?

When I got to the counter wanting to order a vanilla latte, I realized that it isn’t a drink that is specifically mentioned on the menu. I guess the Starbucks location has a lot to do with this.

In these cases, all you have to do is ask for a few pumps of vanilla syrup added to your normal Starbucks latte.

The amount of pumps that you ask for of course depends on the size of the drink. However, generally a short drink gets two pumps and for every size that you go bigger one pump of syrup is added. So a tall latte will get 3 pumps, a grande size 4, and a venti 5.

Starbucks takeaway cup

Health Considerations

Neither a vanilla latte nor a blonde vanilla latte is healthy per se, and the one is definitely not healthier than the other. Both of these drinks have a lot of sugar in them. So, if you are monitoring your sugar intake, it might be best to stay away from these drinks.

If you don’t want to abandon them completely, you can just ask the baristas to add fewer pumps of syrup. Or add less syrup when you are making it yourself. Another option would be to use sugar-free vanilla syrup.

You could also try out nonfat milk. However, just note that the lower fat content will influence how well the milk froths.

Conclusion: Blonde Vanilla Latte vs Vanilla Latte

We now reach the end of our exploration into the realm of vanilla lattes and blonde vanilla lattes. I hope that you realized that the difference between these two, although it might seem small is actually quite an important one.

You have to decide which flavor profile you prefer. This way when you get to the counter of a coffee shop, you can choose the drink that is best for you.

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