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Finding Your Perfect Match: The Types of Coffee Roasts

Enjoying a perfect cup of coffee is one of the greatest pleasures you can experience. Well, at least for a devoted coffee lover. Cassandra Clare said it best: “As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad things could be”. 

But maybe you still haven’t found your perfect cup. It’s not an easy task, but the effort is worth it. The most important thing to do is to go out and get to know the different types of coffee roasts. Does that really matter? Yes, finding a perfect type of coffee roast is the most important thing on your quest. And here is why:

Coffee gets its taste and flavor from roasting. The aroma of the coffee in your cup is influenced by  its origin, freshness, processing, and brewing method, yet the most crucial thing is its roast level. Depending on the length of the roasting process, we have 4 different types of coffee roasts:

  • Light roasts
  • Medium roasts
  • Medium-dark roasts
  • Dark roasts

For a given bean, darker roasts tend to reduce caffeine content. However,coffee experts know this is a hot topic of debate. Caffeine contents of a cup of coffee depend heavily on many factors, not just roast level. To impress your friends, or win that next trivia night, learn more about the details of coffee's caffeine contents.

The more you know about the types of coffee roasts, the more likely you are to find the perfect one that will bring pleasure, serenity, and joy into your life. Ask any committed coffee lover.

 

1. Light Roasts

Light roasts are light and exciting, but also unpredictable and unbalanced. If you are an adventurous type and like exploring new and unique things, this may be the right roast for you. 

Color: Light brown or tan

Light roasts are roasted for the shortest period of time. At a temperature of 356°F - 401°F, the bean pops and cracks. Light roasts end right after “the first crack”.

Oil: No

Since the roasting temperature is low, there is no oil on the surface of the beans.

Acidity and Caffeine: High

Light roasts are high in acidity and caffeine. Longer roasting time and higher temperatures lower the acidity and the level of caffeine, so light roasts are the most abundant in both.

Taste: Toasted grain

Light roasts keep the flavor characteristic of the coffee’s origin, because not many chemical changes happen. Light roasts have a toasted grain taste and sometimes a citrus tone because of the high level of acidity. They have a sweet, bright, and less bitter taste.

Light roasts will enable you to taste clearly the difference between, let’s say, Brazilian and Kenyan coffee. The problem is, not all light roasts are for the timid. They can often be unbalanced and have a flavor that resembles cereals, peanuts, or vegetables. The aromas are often heavy on lemon and floral notes.

Some common light roasts are:

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

2. Medium Roasts

The average American coffee drinker prefers medium roasts. They are the most common and broadly appealing. If you prefer stability and familiarity, a medium roast may be the choice for you!

Color: Brown

Medium roasts are roasted at 410°F - 428°F and their roasting ends just before the “second crack” happens. 

Oil: No

At this temperature, there is still no oil on coffee beans.

Acidity and Caffeine: Medium

The level of caffeine and acidity are lower than in light roasts. Acidity is more balanced; caffeine is higher than in dark roasts. It’s a perfect “compromise” coffee, somewhere in-between the light and dark roasts. 

Taste: Balanced

The prolonged period of roasting eliminates some unique flavors characteristic of light roasts. There is no grainy taste. Medium roasts have a more balanced aroma and you can recognize a bit of caramelized sweetness because darker roasts caramelize the sugars. The caramelization process has only just begun, so there is no burnt flavor of darker roasts.

Some common Medium Roasts are:

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

3. Medium-Dark Roasts

You like your comfort zone and stability, but you’re not one who could be considered “average”. You have deep thoughts and powerful feelings. You avoid shallow and meaningless talks and like to contemplate things. Medium-dark coffee roasts may be your thing. They will stimulate your senses - not too much, but just enough. 

Color: Dark Brown

Medium-dark roasts are roasted at 437°F - 446°F and their roasting ends at the beginning or during the “second crack”. Their color is a rich dark brown.

Oil: Some

Some traces of oil appear at the surface of coffee beans.

Acidity and Caffeine: Lower

Since higher temperatures lower the acidity and caffeine in coffee beans, medium-dark roasts are somewhat lower in both compared to medium roasts, but higher compared to dark roasts.

Taste: Rich

Medium-dark roasts bring in strong and distinctive flavors from the roasting process. The taste is richer, fuller, and heavier than the taste of medium roasts. The coffee can develop an interesting spicy aroma.

Some common medium-dark roasts are:

  • After Dinner Roast
  • Full-City Roast
  • Vienna Roast

4. Dark Roasts

Dark roasts are exotic and bold. If you have some of that mysterious darkness inside of you, and boldness to face the unknown, this roast might be a perfect fit! Its taste is strong, heavy, and dominant.. Stay strong and calm yourself with a perfect cup of coffee! 

Color: Black

Dark roasts are roasted at 464°F - 482°F until the end of the “second crack” or even beyond that. The color is a deep, dark brown, almost black.

Oil: Yes

The oil appears on the surface of beans, which can be clearly seen in the cup of brewed coffee.

Acidity and Caffeine: Low

Dark coffee roasts have the lowest acidity and the lowest level of caffeine of all coffee roast types.

Taste: Bitter

Dark roasts tend to lose the original flavors of coffee and acquire a bitter and smoky aroma, which results from the roasting process. They have a full flavor and buttery finish.

Dark roast is commonly known as:

  • Italian Roast
  • Espresso Roast
  • French Roast
  • Continental Roast

 

By now you should have a sense of the different characteristics of the different roasts, and which might suit you best. Go out there, try them, and see what you think!

 

References

https://realgoodcoffeeco.com/blogs/realgoodblog/the-differences-between-light-roast-and-dark-roast-coffee

https://sprudge.com/does-dark-roast-coffee-really-have-more-caffeine-142095.html

https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/05/what-is-first-crack-and-how-do-you-recognise-it/