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THIS is Why Starbucks Coffee is so Bitter

Starbucks is one of the biggest brands in the world. They are certainly the most recognisable name in the coffee industry and currently has around 33,000 stores operating in 80 countries. But, one of the big paradoxes of this coffee giant is that a lot of people don’t actually like their coffee! 

This comes down to its characteristically bitter taste, which is a hallmark of dark roasted coffee. 

Starbucks coffee is so bitter because their dark roasted beans are heated to around 245℃ or 473℉, giving them a shiny outer coating, little remanence of their original flavour and their characteristic ‘burnt’ taste. 

It is actually the strong, bitter smell of Starbucks coffee that puts some people off. The initial taste is bold, but you can definitely pick up the cocoa and spiced undertones of their house blend as you continue drinking. Some of the bitterness does come back to bite you at the end of your sip though! 

This is a characteristic of dark roasted coffee that many coffee experts despise as they view it as almost destroying the carefully curated coffee flavours that light and medium roasts allow to shine through. 

Dark-roasted coffee tends to have a much darker flavour than light or medium-roasted coffee. Traditional Italian or French espresso carries this flavour, and it is characterised by its strength and boldness. 

However, Starbucks don’t just use dark-roasted coffee for fun. One of the main benefits that dark roasts bring is their uniform flavour, meaning that there is far less variability in the taste of the coffee when it is mass-produced, a key asset to the Starbucks business model. 

Like many of the world’s most successful food and drink chains, repeatability is the key. As a Starbucks customer, you want to know that no matter where in the world you get a Starbucks coffee, it will taste the same every time. 

Think of brands like Mcdonald’s, Subway, KFC, Coca Cola and Pepsi. One of the main reasons that they are household names is not necessarily because their products taste the best. It is because customers know exactly what they are getting each and every time they go to one of their recognisable, conveniently situated stores, no matter where in the world you are. 

Whilst Starbucks coffee is not to everyone’s taste, it is definitely a very recognisable flavour that sets them apart from their competition. Coffee connoisseurs looking down on Starbucks coffee has not stopped the brand from becoming one of the most valuable companies in the world and an incredibly prominent landmark in modern coffee society and culture. 

Less Bitter Coffee from Starbucks

Starbucks coffee is known for its full-bodied, bold flavour and bitterness. But, if this really isn’t to your taste but you still want that Starbucks experience, you can try out their Blonde or Medium roasts. 

Blonde Roast

If you are looking for a much more subtle way to experience that characteristic Starbucks taste, their blonde roast could be the best option for you. Since January 2019 Starbucks has offered a light roast which delivers a creamy, nutty and less intense flavour than their best-selling dark roasted coffee. 

These beans are roasted for much less time than their darker counterparts, allowing citrus notes and an overall more subtle flavour to shine through. So, for the Starbucks coffee lover that wants a more relaxed, mellow taste, give the blond roast a try! 

You can buy Starbucks Blonde Roast Coffee on Amazon here:


Medium Roast

The next step down from Starbucks’s bold and bitter dark roasted coffee is their classic medium roast. They offer this well-balanced, smooth bean in a few different varieties, so if you want to mix things up on your next trip to Starbucks, medium roast is the one to try. 

You can buy Starbucks Medium Roast Coffee on Amazon here:


House Blend

The classic house blend from Starbucks is a well-balanced coffee that comprises a range of bean origins from Latin America. Compared to Starbucks’ dark roasted beans, their medium house blend is deliciously simple as it lets that hallmark cocoa and nut flavour shine through. 

Pike Place

Starbucks Pike Place blend celebrates the company’s heritage and mellows out its classic house blend to create a smoother mouth feel. Pike Place Market in Seattle was where the first Starbucks store opened in 1971, so this medium roast blend harks back to the good old days. 

Buy Starbucks Pike Place Coffee on Amazon here:



The Kenyan Roast from Starbucks is a rich and fruity number that allows blackcurrant, grapefruit and blackberry to pop. This is a more complex coffee than most, but if a refreshing palate cleanser is your thing, the Kenyan blend will be right up your street. 


A punchy coffee full of attitude is what you’ll find in Starbucks’s Columbian blend. It has an underlying herbal and floral taste that will excite your taste buds. 

You can buy Starbucks Columbian coffee on Amazon here:



The subtle and smooth flavours of the Ethiopian blend from Starbucks make it a real pleasure to sip long. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and Starbucks have let the natural nuttiness, spice and floral notes of quintessential Ethiopian coffee speak for themselves. 


A rich coffee that has that familiar nuttiness, offset by a hint of spice and citrus, the Guatemalan and Antiguan blend is one of Strubucks’s more refined numbers. It is a thinker’s coffee that should be enjoyed thoughtfully and slowly so as to appreciate the nuances of its flavour. 

5 Things That Make Coffee Bitter and How to Fix Them

As we have discussed, Starbucks’ dark roast coffee is naturally quite bitter. But, there are a few things that you may not realise also make your coffee taste bitter: 

Brewing Too Long

Much like over-cooking a piece of meat, you can also ‘overcook’ your coffee. Leaving your coffee to brew for 10 minutes may be fine, but leaving it out for 30 minutes in most cases will just give you a bitter taste in the mouth. 

Make sure to determine how long your coffee needs to brew depending on how you are preparing it and set a timer! 

Using Dirty Equipment

Naturally, having to reminisce about past coffee brews left on your equipment will build up residue and give your coffee a dirty or gritty taste. 

Too Much Coffee

Even if you use the highest quality coffee beans, adding too much coffee and too little water to your brew will make an overpowering concoction that will most likely taste bitter. 

Make sure you measure out the amount of coffee you’ll need relative to the amount of water you’ll be using for your desired brewing method. You can always adjust it to suit your taste, but guessing and pouring in too much will just be a waste! 

Stale Coffee

Not storing your coffee correctly is one of the biggest mistakes a home brewer can make. 

The deep, chocolatey, nutty flavours that so many coffee lovers enjoy are so often lost simply by leaving coffee open to the air when it is stored. 

Simply store your coffee in an airtight container or better still, order from a roastery directly and grind your own beans to ensure maximum freshness! 

The water is Too Hot

Using water at the exact moment it has boiled can actually be detrimental to the taste of your coffee. You can effectively burn the coffee which can destroy some of its subtle flavours and leave you with a bitter or burnt taste. 

Just leave your kettle to sit for around a minute after it has boiled before you pour it onto your coffee, you can thank me later! 

My Takes

Starbucks coffee is notoriously bitter thanks to its dark roasted beans. The roast is the overpowering taste in these beans, meaning that the vast majority of the coffee’s underlying flavours will be gone. Whilst this is not ideal for the coffee purist, it does mean that Starbucks coffee is recognisable the world over and incredibly consistent. You definitely can’t knock their business model, even if their coffee is not to everyone’s taste! 


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