What are the 4 different roasts of coffee

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Johny Morrisson

There are four primary roasts of coffee i-e light, medium, medium-dark, and dark roast. Each brings out different flavors, acids, and aromas from the coffee beans.

Key Takeaways

  • Roasting is the process that brings out the flavors and aroma of coffee beans
  • Light Roasts are admired for the delicate and complex origin flavors of the beans
  • Medium Roast has balanced flavors and is perfect for every brewing method
  • Medium-dark roast has a Rich and full-bodied with low acidity
  • Dark roast coffee has intense flavors and aromas that is perfect for espresso

Whether you want to improve your home brewing skills or upgrade your coffee shopping skills, it’s important to understand the different coffee roasts.

In this article, I will guide you through different types of coffee roasts, covering everything from their flavor profiles to their appearance, their different names, and ideal brewing methods for each roast.

What is coffee roasting?

Coffee roasting is a complex process that involves heating green coffee beans to a specific temperature for a specific period of time. This process causes chemical changes in the beans that bring out the unique flavor and aroma of coffee.

Typically, roasting is done at a very high temperature between 300 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The roaster has to keep a close eye (and ear) on the process, monitoring heat levels and listening for cues like the “second crack”.

The longer the roast goes on past that second crack, the darker the roast will be. Light roasts are pulled out just after the first crack, while dark roasts can push past that second crack into the land of intense and smoky notes.

Coffee beans can be roasted at home using a variety of methods, including a frying pan, an air popper, or a popcorn maker.

The best way to roast coffee beans is with a professional roaster, which can control the temperature and airflow more precisely.

What is Coffee roasting

Read a guide on coffee processing techniques

Green Coffee beans

Coffee beans are grown on trees in the form of red cherry, and you cannot simply use them as it is to brew your cup of coffee, for sure!

Green coffee beans are found inside red cherries. The beans are removed from the cherries, washed with water, and dried in the sun. Once the beans are dry, they are roasted to bring them into the familiar shape we see them in.

These are the raw beans that are just taken out of the cherries and are not suitable for brewing a cup of coffee.

However, some coffee enthusiasts buy raw green coffee and roast these beans by themselves in home roasting machines. 


4 types of Coffee roasts

4 types of Coffee roasts

Let’s discuss each coffee roast type in detail!

1. Light roast Coffee beans

Light-roasted coffee beans are light brown in color and have a high acidity. These beans are roasted for a shorter period and at lower temperatures.

Light roasts have the highest caffeine content compared to darker roasts but the difference is very minimal.

These beans have earthy and fruity flavor notes, which are similar to those of raw green coffee beans.

Light-roast coffee
Light Roast

Always get the lighter roasts when buying speciality single-origin coffee beans. Light roasting lets you taste the unique flavors of that origin. Darker roasts can overpower those regional flavor notes.

Some Common Names for Light Roast

Light roasted beans are often packaged and marketed under the following names.

  • Light City 
  • Half City
  • Blonde Roast
  • Cinnamon Roast
  • New England

What Brewing Method is perfect for Light roast coffee beans

Light roast beans have delicate floral, fruity, and earthy notes that are best brought out through pour-over brewing. This manual method gives you the chance to experiment and dial in variables like water temperature and flow rate. Finding the right balance is key to coaxing subtle flavors from light roasts.

Light roasts are best for enjoying simple black coffee without any milk or sweeteners as they make a sweet, tea-like notes, and less bitter drink.

Avoid methods like the French press which do not filter out coffee oils and sediments. These methods can make light roasts taste muddled.

Features of light roast

Taste profileDelicate, Vibrant, and fruity notes
ColorLight brown
BodyLight and crisp body
AromaPronounced floral and fruity scents
Best Brewing MethodsPour-over, Chemex, Hario V60; methods that allow for precise control.

2. Medium roast Coffee beans

Medium roast beans have a brown color and deliver moderately intense flavor with smooth acidity. They sit in the sweet spot between light and dark roasts.

Medium roast is the most popular coffee roast, as it strikes a balance between preserving the coffee bean’s inherent flavors and also introducing the roasty characteristics.

Medium Roast coffee
Medium Roast

Medium roasts hit that sweet spot for folks who find light roasts a bit too bright and acidic but think dark roasts taste a little burnt or ashy. The smooth, well-rounded profile of a medium roast can be an easy-drinking everyday brew.

Some Common Names for Medium Roast

Medium roasted beans are often packaged and marketed under the following names.

  • American Roast
  • City
  • Regular Roast
  • Breakfast Roast
  • Balanced Roast

What Brewing Method is perfect for Medium roast coffee beans

Medium roast coffee beans are highly versatile as they have moderate levels of acidity, sweetness, and body. This allows them to brew well under a wide range of conditions and with any brew methods.

In general, Medium roasted beans are the perfect choice for Drip coffee machines, Siphon brewers, and Aeropress coffee maker

Features of Medium roast

Taste profileBalanced and versatile
ColorMedium brown in color
BodyMedium body without being too heavy or too light.
AromaIncludes both the bean’s inherent scents and subtle roasting aromas
Best Brewing MethodsSuitable for any brewing method

3. Medium-Dark roast coffee beans

Medium-dark roast coffee beans are roasted for a longer period of time than light or medium roast beans, which gives them a dark brown color and a rich, oily flavor. They have very low acidity and have an intense and full-bodied taste.

Medium-dark reveals richer notes like chocolate, caramel, and toasted nuts.

Medium Dark Roast coffee
Medium Dark Roast

Some Common Names for Medium Dark Roast

Medium Dark roasted beans are often packaged and marketed under the following names.

  • Full City
  • Viennese Roast
  • After dinner Roast
  • Continental Roast
  • Classic Roast

What Brewing Method is perfect for Medium Dark roast coffee beans

Medium-dark roast coffee beans pair nicely with brewing methods that can extract the deeper, richer flavors in the beans.

The full immersion of a French press draws out the heavy body and robust roasty flavors of medium-dark beans, while the high pressure used in espresso concentrates the coffee’s oils and solids into a potent, syrupy shot that complements these bolder roasts.

Other strong coffee brewing methods like Moka Pot, Cold Brew, and Aeropress also work well with Medium Dark roast.

Features of Medium Dark roast

Taste profileBold flavors with a bittersweet aftertaste
ColorDark Brown
BodyFull-bodied flavor, providing a satisfying mouthfeel
AromaRich, toasty, and smoky scents
Best Brewing MethodsFrench press, Espresso, cold brew, and Moka Pot

4. Dark-roasted coffee beans

Dark roasts are roasted to a point where the beans become very dark brown or black and develop a thin layer of oil on their surface. This high temperature and prolonged roasting process masks the acidity and origin flavors of beans.

Dark roasts make the strongest coffee drink with a rich and full-bodied texture and an intense roasty aroma.

Dark roast coffee is most popular in European coffee cultures due to its bold flavor profile. The deep, often bitter, and ashy tones of dark roasted beans suit the strong brewing methods common in Europe, like the French Press, Moka Pot, and Espresso.

Dark-roast coffee
Dark Roast

Some Common Names for Dark Roast

Dark roasted beans are often packaged and marketed under the following names.

  • French Roast
  • Italian Roast
  • Espresso Roast
  • New Orleans
  • European Roast

What Brewing Method is perfect for Dark roast coffee beans

Dark roast coffee beans are known for their bold and intense flavors, often with smoky and roasted notes.

That’s why Dark roasted is considered best for Espresso as the quick, high-pressure extraction concentrates the sweeter crema while mitigating bitter overtones in dark roast espresso shots.

Dark roastes are the also most preferable beans for milk-based coffee drinks. Milk nicely complements the bitterness and full-bodied taste of dark roasts and tames the harshness.

Features of Dark roast

Taste profileIntense and bold with prominent bitterness; dominated by roast-derived flavors
ColorNearly Black in Color
BodyFull and heavy body with creamy mouthfeel
AromaIntensely smoky and toasty, with hints of dark chocolate and spices
Best Brewing MethodsEspresso, French Press

Read a Guide on Light vs Dark roast Coffee


Which roast of coffee is best?

The “best” roast of coffee is highly subjective and depends on personal taste preferences. However, the Medium roast is the most popular coffee roast because of its rich and delicate flavor profiles.
I suggest you try every coffee roast and select the one that suits you the best.

What is the strongest roast of coffee?

Dark roast is the strongest and boldest roast of coffee. The extended roasting process produces intense flavors along with a very dense body.

Which coffee roast is bitter?

Dark roast coffee is generally associated with a more pronounced bitterness compared to lighter roast levels.
Dark roasts are pushed past the second crack to very high temperatures, breaking down more sugars and amplifying bitter compounds. This can impart a burnt, charred taste while also enhancing the sweetness.
However, dark roasts are not universally bitter. Roasters can reduce bitterness by sourcing less acidic beans, controlling temperature, and stopping before burning.

Which coffee roast is sweeter?

Medium roast coffee beans have sweeter and more balanced flavor profiles.
The shorter roasting times in medium styles preserve more of the bean’s inherent sugars and fruity acids, both of which we perceive as sweetness.

Which coffee roast is healthier?

Light and medium roasts are considered healthier than dark roasts, however, the overall nutritional differences between roast styles are quite small.
The shorter roasting times for light and medium roasts better preserve many of coffee’s beneficial antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and caffeine content.

Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About. He knows everything there is to know about coffee and loves sharing his passion with others.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.

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