For coffee lovers, the world of coffee roasts is complex, nuanced, and often debated. From light cinnamon roasts to deep, dark French roasts, the roasting process transforms the green coffee bean into the rich, aromatic bean we know and love.
In this article, we 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.
- 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 aroma that is perfect for espresso
Whether you want to improve your home brewing skills or enhance your coffee shopping skills, it’s important to understand the different coffee roasts. So join us as we take a deep dive into the world of coffee roasting and learn what makes each roast special.
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 produce the unique flavor and aroma of coffee.
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.
Coffee beans can be roasted at home using a variety of methods, including a frying pan, an air popper, or a popcorn maker.
However, the best way to roast coffee beans is with a professional roaster, which can control the temperature and airflow more precisely.
Green Coffee beans
Green Coffee beans are not roasted at all. These are the raw beans that are just taken out of the cherries. These beans are not suitable for brewing a cup of coffee.
However, some coffee enthusiasts buy raw green coffee and roast these beans by themselves in roasting machines.
4 types of Coffee roasts
The four primary coffee roasts represent the spectrum from light to dark roasting. Each brings out different flavors, acids, and aromas from the coffee beans.
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. They also have earthy and fruity flavor notes, which are similar to those of raw green coffee beans.
Light roast coffee beans are roasted for a shorter period of time and at a lower temperature than darker roasts. This results in beans that have a higher caffeine content, but less aroma and a less oily surface.
If you enjoy fruity flavors and don’t mind a high acidity, lightly roasted coffee beans are a good choice for you.
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 coffee lovers 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.
Avoid methods like the French press which do not filter out coffee oils and sediments. These can make light roasts taste muddled.
Features of light roast
|Taste profile||Delicate, Vibrant, and fruity notes|
|Body||Light and crisp body|
|Aroma||Pronounced floral and fruity scents|
|Best Brewing Methods||Pour-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.
The caffeine content of these beans is relatively lower than light roast as the beans are roasted for higher temperatures than the light roast. This roast also brings out the chocolaty and nutty flavor of the coffee beans with a perfect aroma.
Some Common Names for Medium Roast
Medium roasted beans are often packaged and marketed under the following names.
- American Roast
- 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 profile||Balanced and versatile|
|Color||Medium brown in color|
|Body||Medium body without being too heavy or too light.|
|Aroma||Includes both the bean’s inherent scents and subtle roasting aromas|
|Best Brewing Methods||Suitable 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 are often described as being intense and full-bodied.
Medium-dark beans offer a bolder, more bittersweet cup than medium roast, revealing richer notes like chocolate, caramel, and toasted nuts.
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 roast flavors characteristic 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 profile||Bold and robust with a bittersweet aftertaste|
|Body||Full-bodied flavor, providing a satisfying mouthfeel|
|Aroma||Rich, toasty, and smoky scents|
|Best Brewing Methods||French press, Espresso, cold brew, and Moka Pot|
4. Dark-roasted coffee beans
Dark roast beans 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 reduces the acidity of the beans and produces a more intense, full-bodied flavor.
Dark roast coffee is most popular in European coffee cultures due to its bold flavor profile. The deep, often bitter tones of dark roasted beans suit the strong brewing methods common in Europe, like the French Press, Moka Pot, and Espresso.
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.
The higher level of bitterness in dark roasts calls for brewing methods that can tame harshness and accentuate sweeter, smoother 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.
Features of Dark roast
|Taste profile||Intense and bold with prominent bitterness; dominated by roast-derived flavors|
|Color||Nearly Black in Color|
|Body||Full and heavy body with creamy mouthfeel|
|Aroma||Intensely smoky and toasty, with hints of dark chocolate and spices|
|Best Brewing Methods||Espresso, 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 highly 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?
The strongest and boldest roast of coffee is the dark roast. The extended roasting process produces intense flavors along with a very dense body. Dark roast coffee is often known as French Roast or Italian Roast.
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 muting 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?
Light and medium roast coffee beans are generally associated with sweeter flavor profiles compared to darker roast levels.
The shorter roasting times used for light and 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.