Types of Coffee Roasts and their Unique Flavors

If you are a coffee enthusiast, then you must have a specific favorite roast that is an absolute treat for your taste buds. However, knowing various types of coffee roasts and their unique flavors is something that you learn over time.

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Like fruits, coffee is not the thing that you can just pick off and devour. The cup of coffee that you make and consume so easily, yet the whole journey of this coffee reaching from the plant to your cup is actually an extensive process.

Dark roast has less caffeine and weighs less, which means more beans per cup. So at the end of the day, liquid light and dark coffee might just have the same amount of caffeine.

The coffee beans need to be first roasted before they can be packaged and sold to the consumers. There are multiple methods of coffee roasting and they vary from simple to complex coffee roasting.

Importance of Coffee Roasting

If you want to obtain the perfect flavor and aroma of green coffee beans, you roast them. Coffee beans are kept green, it is a condition where their impeccable quality and taste can be preserved.

A green bean lacks the qualities and features of a roasted bean. A green bean is spongy and soft to bite. It has a grassy smell to it.

Heating & Cooling Down

When coffee beans are roasted, chemical reactions occur as the beans are brought to extreme temperatures. Once they are at the top of perfection, they are cooled down immediately so that the process can be stopped.

The smell of roasted beans is like coffee. Their weight is less because the humidity in the beans has been dried out. Roasted beans are crunchy as opposed to soft and spongy, they are set to be ground and then brewed eventually.

Once the beans have been roasted, they should be consumed at the earliest as they are no more in a green state where the flavor and quality can be preserved. They can lose the fresh flavor quickly if left for long time.

Coffee Beans Before Roasting

You must have pondered every now and then that how would the coffee beans look like before they reach you in an impeccable ground state? The fact is, before roasting the coffee beans are green. They have no smell but an earthy aroma.

It is this roasting process that gives the coffee its rich and strong aroma and flavor that you get in your cup of coffee. Heat is absorbed by the coffee beans during the process of roasting which darkens the color of coffee beans.

The Cracking and Roasting Process

When the temperature is extreme, oils appear on the beans’ surface. Beans start to crack and expand at the temperature of 401 degrees Fahrenheit. At the temperature of 437 degrees Fahrenheit, they crack for the second time.

It is important to know that the beans must not be roasted above the temperature of above 482 degrees Fahrenheit because above this temperature, their taste will be ruined, they will get burnt and also thin out.

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The Art of Roasting

Roasting is, without a doubt, an art. A skilled roaster has the expert potential to “read” the coffee beans and make decisions in a matter of seconds. There is a thin line between making a perfectly roasted coffee and ruining a batch of coffee.

Types of Roasts

If we speak in a general manner, then there are three types of roasts. Regardless of what your coffee is called, such as the French roast, breakfast blend etc., it will fall in 4 major categories which are:

  1. Light roast
  2. Medium roast
  3. Medium dark
  4. Dark roast

Let us discuss in detail the different types of roasts.

Light Roast

The light roast is also called first crack. This name was given because the beans are in the primary stages of expansion and cracking. These beans look pale, dry and the resulting coffee produced is light-bodied.

Flavor of Light Roast

These beans are a tad bit acidic. The coffee does not show any hints of roasting. Light roast coffee does not mean that the flavor would be watered down and diluted. It is in fact the opposite; the roast is light yet it is aromatic. It even has floral or fruity notes.

With these roasts, the beans should not have an oily surface. This is because they are not heated enough for the oils to break through to the top. Otherwise it will be a different kind of roast.  

Color of Light Roast

The color of light roast is light brown (as the name indicates) and is used for mild coffees. It is important to note that since it’s not roasted at extreme temperatures, the light roast has the flavor of original beans.

Coffee varieties that use light roast are as follows:

  • Cinnamon
  • Half City
  • City

Medium Roast

Medium roast beans have a dry look and feel. However, they have a sweet profile.

Flavor of Medium Roast

To be precise, roasting beans for a longer time gives more aroma and flavor to the beans. It has less acidity as compared to the first crack. The flavor profile is a bit more concentrated but you do get a fuller body.

Don’t think that a flavor profile that is concentrated is bad. This is best for the people who have an affinity for distinct bitterness.

Preferred by Most Americans

A lot of consumers feel that this roast has perfect blend of acidity, aroma and the flavors. Most of the Americans prefer this roast.

These beans are medium brown in color with a strong smell. However, there is no oil on the surface. This roast is obtained at 428 degrees Fahrenheit. The weight of the beans is lost about 13% during this process.

Pyrolysis (thermal decomposition that results from roasting) has an effect on the chemical composition of the beans. It is also somewhat responsible for the stronger flavor.

Coffee varieties that use medium roast are as follows:

  • Breakfast
  • City
  • American

Medium Dark Roast

The color of medium dark roast beans is dark brown. They have oil on their surface.

Due to roasting for longer periods of time, all the acidity is destroyed. Thus, most of the aromas of beans is revealed.

Flavor of Medium Dark Roast

The flavor profile can be described as deep and has a bittersweet aftertaste. Some users feel that it is heavy bodied. But this is just a misunderstanding for the rich and full profile of medium dark roast.

Coffee varieties that use medium dark roast are as follows:

  • Full City

Dark Roast

The dark roast is also called Second crack. It is something that you can recognize from far away.

Flavor of Dark Roast

The dark roast beans are shiny, black and have oil on them. It is perfect choice for those who love the bitter taste.

Despite the bitterness, you get to taste that the dark roast has been roasted really well.

It has thick flavor notes that are bit spicy as well. You can also feel oiliness going down your throat when you consume the coffee. These roasts are not acidic. There is a general principle that the darker the beans are, the less acidic they tend to be.

What roast(s) can be used to make Espresso?

You should also know that depending on your taste and preferences, you can make espresso from both dark and medium dark roasts.

Coffee varieties that use dark roast are as follows:

  • High
  • Continental
  • New Orleans
  • European
  • Espresso
  • Viennese
  • Italian
  • French

Light Roast vs Dark Roast

Also called first crack and second crack respectively, the light roast and the dark roast have their own unique flavors. The light roasted beans are roasted for the least amount of time whereas dark roasted beans are roasted for the maximum amount of time.

Light roast is for people who prefer mild coffee whereas dark roast is for people who love to have bitter coffee.

The light roast is somewhat acidic whereas the dark roast has no acidity.

Both are unique roasts for people with unique palettes.

Know Your Preferred Roast

Most of the roasters have dedicated names for their preferred roasts and industry standardization is very less.

A lot of users assume that the rich and strong flavor of darker roasts signifies a greater level of caffeine. This is, however, not true. The fact is that the light roasts have high level of caffeine in them.

What is a Perfect Coffee Roast?

The fact is, perfect roast is a relative term – it varies according to your geographic location and personal preference. Every roast will fall under the broad four categories mentioned above.

Based on your location, there can be a huge difference among the roasts. It’s always a good idea to do your research before buying roasts.

Our Final Word on Roast Types

We hope that this article helped you discover the different types of coffee roasts and their flavor profiles. Most of you might already know your favorite kind of roast, but for those who are still exploring the love for coffee and the perfect roast, we suggest to keep reading and keep learning.

You might already be used to drinking the medium dark roast, but you can still treat your taste buds to different other types of roasts as they have their unique tastes. It’s not too late to have a new additional favorite coffee roast in your kitchen closet.

Enjoy your coffee!