What’s your favorite coffee roast? Dark? Light? Somewhere in between? Here’s a  guide to coffee roasts from light to dark.

Whether you’re just starting to drink coffee or just looking to add something new to your morning routine, it’s important to know what type of coffee you’re drinking because caffeine levels and coffee flavors depend on which type of coffee roasts you’re buying.

The degree to which coffee beans are roasted is one of the most important factors that determine the taste of the coffee in the cup. Before roasting, green coffee beans are soft, with a fresh “grassy” smell and little or no taste. The coffee roasting process transforms these raw beans into the distinctively aromatic, flavorful, crunchy beans that we recognize as coffee.

There are many other factors that contribute to how it tastes, like the origins of the coffee beans, the processing method and the brewing method, but it’s definitely good to know some basic information about coffee roasts to better plan your day.

The most common way to describe coffee roast levels is by the color of the roasted beans, ranging from light to dark (or extra dark). As coffee beans absorb heat in the roasting process, their color becomes darker. Oils appear on the surface of the beans at higher temperatures. Because coffee beans vary, color is not an especially accurate way of judging a roast. But combined with the typical roasting temperature that yields a particular shade of brown, color is a convenient way to categorize roasting levels.

In general, though, we can categorize the most common coffee roasts from light to dark as follows:

Light Roasts (LIGHT CITY ROAST • HALF CITY ROAST • CINNAMON ROAST)

Light roast coffee is light brown in color and is generally associated with milder coffee beverages. Contrary to popular belief, light roasts actually have a slightly higher caffeine level than dark roasts! They are roasted at a lower temperature 180°C – 205°C (356°F – 401°F) compared to the rest, resulting in high acidity levels, which give it an earthy flavor.

Medium Roasts ( CITY ROAST • AMERICAN ROAST • BREAKFAST ROAST )

Medium roasted coffees are medium brown in color with more body than light roasts. Like the lighter roasts, they have no oil on the bean surfaces. However, medium roasts lack the grainy taste of the light roasts, exhibiting more balanced flavor, aroma, and acidity. Caffeine is somewhat decreased, but there is more caffeine than in darker roasts.

Medium roasts reach internal temperatures between 210°C (410°F) and 220°C  (428°F) — between the end of the first crack and just before the beginning of the second crack.

Medium-Dark Roast ( FULL CITY ROAST • DINNER ROAST • VIENNA ROAST )

Medium-dark roasts have a richer, darker color with some oil beginning to show on the surface of the beans. A medium-dark roast has a heavy body in comparison with the lighter or medium roasts.

The beans are roasted to the beginning or middle of the second crack — about 225°C (437°F) or 230°C (446°F). The flavors and aromas of the roasting process become noticeable, and the taste of the coffee may be somewhat spicy.

Dark Roasts ( FRENCH ROAST • CONTINENTAL ROAST • SPANISH ROAST )

Dark roasted coffees are dark brown in color, like chocolate, or sometimes almost black. They have a sheen of oil on the surface, which is usually evident in the cup when the dark roast coffee is brewed. The coffee’s origin flavors are eclipsed by the flavors of the roasting process. The coffee will generally have a bitter and smoky or even burnt taste. The amount of caffeine is substantially decreased.

To reach the level of a dark roast, coffee beans are roasted to an internal temperature of 240°C (464°F) — about the end of the second crack — or beyond. They are seldom roasted to a temperature exceeding 250°C (482°F), at which point the body of the beans is thin and the taste is characterized by flavors of tar and charcoal.

Dark roasts go by many names. As a result, buying a dark roast can be confusing. Some of the more popular designations for a dark roast include French Roast, Italian Roast, Espresso Roast, Continental Roast, New Orleans Roast, and Spanish Roast. Many dark roasts are used for espresso blends.

Whether you’re just starting to drink coffee or just looking to add something new to your morning routine, it’s important to know what type of coffee you’re drinking because caffeine levels and coffee flavors depend on which type of coffee roasts you’re buying. There are many other factors that contribute to how it tastes, like the origins of the coffee beans, the processing method and the brewing method, but it’s definitely good to know some basic information about coffee roasts to better plan your day.

15September
2018
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Category: Coffee aroma

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