coffee · coffee roast

Coffee Roast Types And Why It’s Important To Know Them

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with the choice of coffee types and names in the grocery store coffee aisle, not knowing what to choose and why?

Well, you are not alone.

There are hundreds of varieties of coffee and almost as many types of roasts!

Of course, this can confuse you when you are buying coffee beans, especially when most roasters have specialized names for their favored roasts and there is very little industry standardization.

But in general, roasts fall into one of four color categories — light roast, medium roast, medium-dark roast, and dark roast.

Coffee roasting process and why it’s important

Green coffee beans and roasted beans are nothing alike. The green coffee beans are soft and spongy and they keep the aroma and the flavor that can be brought out only by roasting.

Coffee roasting is a heating process that causes chemical changes to take place. This process brings out the aroma and flavor locked inside the green coffee seed and turns the beans brown.

When the peak of the roasting is reached, the beans need to be cooled down fast to stop the process of roasting. The roasted beans are crunchy and ready to be ground and brewed.

Once roasted, the coffee beans should be used as soon as possible before the fresh roast flavor begins to diminish. That’s why I prefer and recommend buying coffee beans from local roasters, that way you’ll be sure it’s always fresh since they are roasting it in small batches.

It takes years of training to become an expert roaster. The difference between perfectly roasted coffee and a ruined batch can be a matter of seconds.

Apart from the bean itself, coffee gets a lot of its aroma and flavor from the roasting process. The length of the roasting process affects the body, acidity, and flavor of the beans.

To help you expand your coffee knowledge, I’ve put together this handy guide to the four major types of coffee roasts.

Types of coffee roast

1. Light Roast, or First Crack

Light roast whole coffee beans

Light roast coffee beans are light brown in color and dry because they are not roasted long enough for the oils to break through to the surface.

The end result is a light, yet aromatic roast, with distinct fruity or even floral notes and it is mostly used for mild coffee types.

Coffee varieties that utilize light roast include Cinnamon, Half City, and City.

Internal Temperature Of Beans At Roasting Peak: Approx. 400°F

2. Medium Roast

Medium roast whole coffee beans

Medium roast beans are a little bit darker in color, with a stronger flavor and non-oily surface.

Medium roasts work great for those whose palate craves distinct bitterness. For many, this roast has the perfect balance of aroma, acidity, and flavors.

Coffee varieties that utilize medium roast include Breakfast, City, and, the American.

Internal Temperature Of Beans At Roasting Peak: Approx. 420°F

3. Medium Dark Roast

Dark roast whole coffee beans

Medium-dark beans are dark brown in color and have some oil on the surface. The extended roasting eliminates all the acidity and allows most of the beans’ aromas to come up on the top.

Overall, the flavors can be described as deep with a touch of bittersweet aftertaste.

Coffee varieties that include this roast type are Full City.

Internal Temperature Of Beans At Roasting Peak: Approx. 445°F

4. Dark Roast, or Second Crack

Extra dark roast whole coffee beans

The beans are black, shiny, and quite oily, which hints at their unique bitter and smoky flavor profile.

Generally, dark roasts are not acidic, and the rule of thumb is – the darker the beans, the less acidic they are.

Coffee varieties that include this roast type are High, Continental, New Orleans, European, Espresso, Viennese, Italian, French.

Internal Temperature Of Beans At Roasting Peak: Approx. 475°F  

Check out this video by Kavekalmar to see closely what’s happening inside a commercial coffee roaster – literally!

Video credit: Kavekalmar

What coffee roast has the most caffeine

Many consumers assume that the strong, rich flavor of darker roasts indicates a higher level of caffeine, but the truth is that light roasts actually have a slightly higher concentration.

The degree to which coffee beans are roasted affects the caffeine level. Though darker roasted beans have a more intense flavor, they actually have less caffeine than light roast. This is because the longer the beans are roasted, the more caffeine burns off. Light roasts can have 60% more caffeine than dark roasts when measured by volume.

Final words from me

There you have it: the four major types of coffee roasts and all about the roasting process.

Now you are ready to shop for coffee with more confidence and even experiment with the types of roasts. You’ll be surprised by the difference between each coffee roast type.

And you might find your new favorite coffee.

Which coffee roast you prefer and why?

Tell me in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next time,

Enjoy Your Coffee!

And don’t forget to share this article with friends and family, they might find this article useful as well.


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