Does Starbucks Burn Their Coffee Beans? (Explained)

Last Updated on May 26, 2022 by John Moretti

Starbuck is a much-loved-chain coffee shop worldwide. They offer specialty and seasonal drinks to suit every palate. Although it is fun to order some of their more extravagant beverages, such as a pumpkin spiced latte, many prefer a regular Americano, espresso, or latte for their daily caffeine hit. However, Starbucks coffee tends to taste burnt. So, does Starbucks burn their coffee beans?

Starbucks coffee is made with dark roasted coffee beans. This means that the beans have been roasted for a longer time, about fifteen minutes. Dark roasted coffee beans have an intensely rich coffee flavor. However, dark roasted coffee beans can also have a bitter or burnt taste in many instances.

There are various reasons why Starbucks serves dark roasted coffee beans. However, as many people complain about the taste of Starbucks coffee, the question is, why does Starbucks serve dark roasted coffee? Why don’t they serve medium roasted coffee instead to please more clients?

Photo showing smoking coffee beans

This article discusses how Starbucks roast’s their coffee and why they continue to serve dark roasted coffee. 

Why Does Starbucks Coffee Taste Burnt?

Coffee beans come from a coffee tree and are found inside the red berries on a coffee tree. You will find small, green coffee beans when you open these berries. These beans are dried and then roasted to create the delicious coffee beans we use to make coffee. 

The longer coffee beans are roasted, the better the coffee flavor develops. Lightly roasted coffee beans are roasted for about eight minutes. The flavor profile of lightly roasted coffee beans is described as sour and one-dimensional.

Medium roasted coffee beans are roasted for about ten minutes. These beans have a dark brown color, aromatic flavor, and delicious taste. Most coffee drinkers prefer medium roasted coffee beans to taste many different flavors without being overpowered by the bitter taste.

Dark roasted coffee is roasted for even longer, between eleven and fifteen minutes. This is where the rich coffee flavor develops. While some people like the bitter taste of dark roasted coffee, most people find the taste to be overpowering and unpleasant. 

How long does Starbucks roast their coffee? If you guessed close to fifteen minutes, you’re absolutely right. Starbucks serves dark roasted coffee. In fact, their coffee is so darkly roasted that it earned its own name – the Starbucks Roast. 

According to their website, Starbucks roasts their coffee beans for about fifteen minutes, making their beans extremely darkly roasted. However, according to experts in the coffee roasting field, roasting coffee for this long might ruin the coffee’s other, more subtle flavors, leaving you with only the bitter taste. 

This begs the question, why does Starbucks choose to use coffee beans that have been roasted this dark? Is there a reason, or do they simply prefer dark roasted coffee beans? 

Why Does Starbucks Use Dark Roasted Coffee Beans?

There are many reasons why Starbucks chose such a dark roast as their choice of roast for their coffee beans. While some of these reasons make sense from a practical point of view, others seem to be for-profit reasons. We will discuss the three reasons why Starbucks uses dark roasted coffee beans.

1. Dark Roasted Coffee Beans Have A More Uniform Taste

woman smelling liquid in cups

One of the reasons Starbucks chose to use dark roasted coffee beans is that it’s easier to get the coffee tasting the same everywhere when dark roasted. Therefore, Starbucks can ensure that their coffee and coffee drinks taste the same, no matter where in the world you are buying your Starbucks drink. 

While some can appreciate this reasoning as they know what to expect from Starbucks, others may question if burnt-tasting coffee should be a standard we strive for. One cannot help but wonder why Starbucks would think that a dark roast is easier to make universal than a medium roast. 

2. Dark Roasted Coffee Beans Make Stronger Tasting Drinks

According to some Starbucks baristas, Starbucks uses dark roasted coffee beans to impart a more robust coffee flavor to their drinks. As many Starbucks coffee drinks have a lot of milk and additional flavors, such as syrups and toppings, they must use strong-tasting coffee. 

Suppose they don’t use dark roasted coffee beans for these drinks. In that case, the other flavors will overpower the coffee taste, and you won’t detect any coffee in the drink.

Seeing as you’re ordering a flavored coffee, you certainly want to taste at least some coffee in the drink. In addition, the bitterness of the dark roasted coffee beans helps break through some of the extremely sweet syrups added to the drinks. So even with a latte that has a lot of milk, you should still be able to taste the coffee with Starbucks’ dark roasted coffee beans. 

3. Starbucks Makes More Profit From More Expensive Drinks

If you think that a specialty drink from Starbucks costs more to make than an Americano or an espresso, think again. Coffee is an expensive commodity, and Starbucks uses high-quality coffee beans for its drinks. Therefore, compared to the price of a coffee per drink, the milk and other toppings that go into a drink are much cheaper. 

By dark roasting the coffee, Starbucks encourages clients to buy more luxurious drinks with less of a coffee taste than some more basic drinks. This leads to greater profit for Starbucks. By making the coffee bitter-tasting, more people are inclined to buy the more expensive drinks with additional flavors and a lot of milk, as these drinks taste better. 

These are the top reasons, according to Starbucks employees, that Starbucks uses dark roasted coffee beans. However, you might still wonder what drink to buy at Starbucks that doesn’t have a burnt taste. 

Tips For Buying Drinks At Starbucks

Although most people go to Starbucks for their extravagant espresso drinks, others don’t like all the added fluff and prefer a simpler coffee drink. If you are such a person, you might be curious about what drinks you should buy at Starbucks that don’t taste bitter.

Here are some tips for buying drinks at Starbucks for those who don’t like bitter-tasting coffee.

  • Buy an Americano. Americanos are made with one shot of espresso and water. The water dilutes the coffee, making it less intense and helping to counter the burnt taste of Starbucks coffee. You can also add hot or cold milk for a creamier drink.
  • Stay clear of black coffee. Black coffee has no milk to soften the bitter taste of coffee. Therefore, if you think Starbucks coffee tastes burnt, stick to hot and iced coffee with milk.
  • Don’t add sugar to dull the bitterness. Some people might want to add sugar to try and cancel the bitter taste of Starbucks coffee. However, sugar enhances the roasted flavor of coffee beans. Therefore, if the coffee tastes bitter without sugar, it will not taste any better when you add sugar. 


Starbucks doesn’t burn their coffee beans. Instead, they use dark roasted coffee beans in their drinks. These coffee beans have been roasted for as many as fifteen minutes, giving the coffee a dark and somewhat bitter taste. This helps the coffee taste to cut through the milk and some of the sweet toppings of Starbucks’ sweeter drinks.