Why Does Starbucks Coffee Taste Burnt? (Not What You Think)

While Starbucks is a very popular brand, it also has its share of critics. And one of the many things they have criticized Starbucks for is the burnt taste of the coffee.

But are the critics right, is the coffee really burnt? If you’ve ever wanted to find out why Starbucks coffee tastes burnt, read on. We have the answers here!

Why Does Starbucks Coffee Taste Burnt?

Starbucks coffee beans are not actually burnt but dark-roasted. The dark roast helps to keep the taste consistent in Starbucks stores across the country. The intense taste also pairs well with ingredients for Starbucks’ coffee-based drinks, like the popular Frappuccino. The burnt or bitter taste is also due to the fact that Starbucks’ brewed coffee is more concentrated.

If you have more questions about the roasting process and what kind of coffee to drink at Starbucks, if you don’t like the burnt taste, read on. We have some answers for you.

Another Reason Behind Why Starbucks Coffee Has a Unique Flavor

There is another reason why some people feel that Starbucks coffee tastes burnt. A Starbucks barista spilled the beans a while back on what really gives Starbucks coffee that taste.

According to his article in Consumer Reports magazine, the burnt taste isn’t due to the dark roast at all but the way that Starbucks brews coffee.

The amount of coffee Starbucks uses in proportion to water in the brew is much higher than in most coffee shops, and it produces a more intense flavor.

Customers who are used to less concentrated, more bland coffees might find the intense taste of Starbucks coffee burnt or bitter.

Does Starbucks Purposely Burn Their Coffee?

Some Starbucks coffee critics from Consumer Reports Magazine have described Starbucks coffee as “strong but burnt”.

However, this is not a burnt roast but is instead a “dark roast,” which can give the impression of the beans tasting burnt.

This darker roast means that the beans are simply roasted for a longer duration, which gives the coffee its intensity but also has the byproduct of the coffee tasting like burnt wood.

While many modern-day cafes now use lighter roasts for a more complex flavor profile, Starbucks coffee, in comparison, can taste burnt, even though it isn’t.

Why Does Starbucks Over-roast Their Beans?

First, let’s look at some of the reasons why Starbucks dark roasts at high temperatures.

In the early days, Starbucks coffee was roasted very dark to distinguish it from the primarily bland coffees available in the US until that time.

Once Starbucks expanded its scale of operations, the dark roast produced a uniform signature taste that could be replicated across the country.

Dark roasts also speed up the brewing process, making it possible to use higher temperatures and less time to make coffee.

With lines of customers snaking out the door, speed was necessarily a factor. So did Starbucks sacrifice taste to speed?

Millions of customers who stop for a cup of coffee at Starbucks every day would disagree. They don’t seem to have a problem with the taste.

Dark Roasts Taste Better With Milk, Sugar, and Cream

Dark Roasts Taste Better With Milk, Sugar And Cream

Another reason why Starbucks favors dark roasts is that their coffee is used in making coffee-based drinks like the Frappuccino with milk, sugar, cream, and other ingredients.

The intense flavor of the dark roast helps to preserve the coffee taste in drinks like the Frappuccino.

Apart from the coffee drinks, it was assumed that even regular coffee drinkers would add milk and sugar. The dark roast produces a strong flavor that doesn’t get lost with added ingredients.

Why Does Starbucks Coffee Taste Bitter?

This could be due to the higher acidity of the mild coffees, as these are generally sourced from Latin America and Africa.

To avoid the slightly bitter taste, you could try an Americano, which espresso with hot water.

What To Drink Instead Of Dark Roast

Starbucks is also known for being highly responsive to customer sentiment, and the complaints about the burnt coffee taste have reached their corporate ears.

This is why Starbucks has recently introduced their medium and blonde (light) roasts, which don’t have the burnt taste.

So for those who like the convenience of Starbucks but not the burnt taste of the coffee, there is now an alternative.

However, coffee drinkers should know that while lighter roasts have a milder coffee taste, they actually contain more caffeine.

This seems counterintuitive, but it’s because the roasting process actually removes caffeine from the beans.

So a dark roast will have a more intense coffee flavor but less caffeine than a lighter roast.

To find out more about Starbucks, you can also read our posts on how many calories are in Starbucks Hot Chocolate, what Starbucks drink has the most caffeine, and where Starbucks gets its coffee beans.

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Marques Thomas

Marques Thomas graduated with a MBA in 2011. Since then, Marques has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Marques is also the head writer and founder of QuerySprout.com.

2 thoughts on “Why Does Starbucks Coffee Taste Burnt? (Not What You Think)”

  1. Leave it to Starbucks to sleaze there way out of fixing the burnt flavor of their coffee. They could care less as long as the money keep flowing in. I will never buy a cup of coffee from them ever again.

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