"Paired against its 'medium roast' cousin, the Veranda did seem lighter, but the lightness bore no additional subtlety."
That is a valid review. The rest just screams hater-ade. Not a Starbucks fan, not by a long shot. But if you are going to review the blonde roast, don't taste test against a micro- roaster that participates in direct trade seasonal sourcing. It is apple and oranges. And its a comparison that a macro roaster will always lose. 1) there isn't enough supply of High quality micro-lot arabica beans to fulfill the coffee demands of a global chain 2) starbucks would be broke if they tried to buy every micro lot just to serve up coffee for $1.50.
For a FAR more interesting taste comparison, try pairing Peet's Coffee's new medium roast with the blonde roast, or another MACRO-roaster such as a Dunkin' Donuts.
Starbucks is simply ok. But before Starbuck's there was no third wave. Without Starbucks, the average coffee consumer would still be drinking Hills Bros coffee or thinking Folgers coffee is the be all, end all. Starbucks is responsible for setting a baseline level of acceptance for quality while also convincing the avg person that $2-$5 a cup is worth it. By doing so, this allows high quality roasters (like Sightglass, Four Barrel, Contraband, Stumptown, et al) to charge upwards of $3 -$5 for a pour over.
Not trying to hate on the article but it just doesn't shed any insight other than OMFG SBUX BLOWS, Sightglass is fairy dust in a cup!