Coffee Roasts: How To Know Which One Suits You?

June 07 2022 – Alex Melen

Coffee beans go through a long process before it ends up in our cup. Roasting is one of the important steps that extracts the rich flavor in coffee. Before roasting coffee, the beans will be cupped and profiled according to how they should be roasted. The chosen roast should produce the best flavor from the beans. Each bean will have a ‘roasting profile’ that informs the roaster how it should be roasted for optimal flavor. Even though there are only three types of coffee roasts - Light, Medium, and Dark, the most challenging thing to do is choose among them. Without knowing what those names mean, it is hard to decide. Read on to know which one suits your palate best. 

Light Roast Coffee

Light roast coffee is highly aromatic, has low levels of bitterness, and leans more toward the acidic. It is sometimes described as being “ginger.” The coffee beans tend to be less brittle and have a higher density, allowing the beans to be easily split open. The beans generally look less shiny, feel more textured, and are not oily to the touch. Lightly roasted coffee, like Ethiopia Guji, comes from Africa. These beans are roasted to give a sweet, fruit juice-like aftertaste. It has a clean and balanced taste, which is complex at the same time.

Medium Roast Coffee

The coffee beans are kept dense in medium roasting, but they are more brittle than the light roasted ones. They are in a darker shade of brown and look smoother and a little shinier as oils are starting to be produced but are not oily to the touch. Medium roast coffee is sometimes known as the “sugar browning aromatic category.” Medium roast coffee has a smooth flavor, with sweetness and pleasant acidity. There are notes of vanilla, butter, and roasted nuts. The South American Red Deer Espresso is an excellent example of medium roast coffee. It is smooth, highly aromatic, and holds the flavors of chocolate and hazelnut.

Dark Roast Coffee

Coffee has traditionally been a darker roast. It is most often used to make espresso as the high oil content forms the creme. Dark roasted beans are in very dark shades of brown, sometimes even looking like black beans. It is very smooth and shiny; at this stage, oils have emerged, so it is very oily. Usually, dark roasts are used to mask the lower grades or defective green beans. Even so, its savory tones of cloves, black pepper, ash, and smoke, still make it a popular choice. Dark roast coffee has less sweetness, but flavors such as licorice and dark chocolate emerge. Dark roasts have lower caffeine levels as they have been cooked out. If you like your coffee smooth, strong, and silky, dark roasts like Blue Velvet flavored with a hint of cocoa and cinnamon taste will be your best choice.

There have been considerable shifts in coffee roasting that have given rise to specialty coffee varieties. Now that you know the different types of roasts, you can better choose the roast for your next cup of coffee.