Why Coffee Roasting Matters
Coffee roasting ultimately determines the flavor and taste of your coffee brew. It’s a core factor, and this underlines its importance in the art of coffee making.
All things constant, coffee roasting is an intricate process that requires due diligence, experience, and expertise to master. If you consume any of the estimated 400 million cups of coffee consumed daily in America alone, then it’s easier to sample and find the roast suitable to your taste buds. Different coffee roasts bring out varying flavors, tastes, and aromas. For instance, if you enjoy specialty coffee, you’ll find light and medium roasts used to complement coffee beans’ natural aroma and flavor.
Coffee tip 1
The coffee industry makes adjustments to standardized roast levels and many roasts assign different names to coffee roasts. However, this list only includes the commonly used and widely accepted standards of roast levels.
Different Coffee Roast Levels
Coffee beans are roasted to different levels, and this is done to bring out varying flavors. The roasting process also reduces the bean’s moisture content while also darkening its color.
1. Light Roast
The lightest roast is also known as the blonde roast or cinnamon roast. This type of coffee has a light body with no oil on the surface of the beans. The flavor is also very mild with scarcely any roast flavor.
Light coffee roasts aim to preserve the coffee beans’ natural flavor and aroma. It explains why specialty coffee consumers prefer light roasts as they tend to have a lighter flavor profile compared to dark roasts. Since light roasts bear a dry rather than oily texture, the coffee beans attain 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, barely enough to reach the first-crack level.
Light roasts are also known as New England Roast, Half City Roast, or American Roasts. The beans have a light brown coloration with a dry surface. The coffee has more body than a blonde roast but still lacks the distinct roast flavor. Light roasts highlight the original flavor of the coffee beans.
Light coffee roasts are the most caffeinated and by extension; the most acidic. The longer the beans are roasted, the more caffeine burns off. The acidic, citric, and lemon taste associated with light roasts lures most coffee enthusiasts.
Coffee fun fact
Due to the incompleteness of the light roast process, light roasts can change the taste profile of the coffee beans since some chemical changes don’t happen.
2. Medium Coffee Roast
The second level is the medium roast, also identified as the City Roast or American Roast. The coffee beans attain 400 to 430 degrees Fahrenheit, reaching the first-crack point. At this stage, coffee roasts develop a stronger body with more balance and no harsh flavors. You’ll start to notice some light oil on the beans’ surface. The flavor profile for this coffee roast has more complexity than light roasts but is less intense than dark roasts.
Coffee fun fact
The medium coffee roast got the name American Roast because of its popularity across the US. It’s the most consumed coffee roast in the US. Chances are. if you’ve consumed a coffee today, it was a medium roast.
Coffee roasts falling under this category include Regular Roast, and After Dinner Roast. The beans have a dark brown color with some oil on the surface. The coffee has more body and complexity than light roasts but is not as intense as dark roasts. Medium roasts also fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to caffeine content – not as much as light roasts but more than dark roasts.
The beans have a dark brown coloration with an oily surface. The coffee has a balanced flavor with a distinct roast taste. Medium roasts highlight the caramelly sweetness of the coffee. If you want to enjoy a cup of coffee with more balanced flavors, then a medium roast should be your go-to option. The moderate heat applied during roasting works to bring out the coffee beans’ natural sweetness and flavor.
3. Medium Dark Roasts
The third level is the Medium-Dark Roast, and it’s also known as the Full City Roast, or Vienna Roast. The coffee beans attain 435 to 445 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the coffee roasts undergo a second crack. You’ll see more oil on the surface of the beans compared to medium roasts. The flavor profile for this coffee roast maintains a balance between strong and light flavors without any bitterness.
Coffee fun fact
The second crack during coffee roasting is essential in developing a rich and complex flavor profile for your coffee.
Coffees falling under this category include French Roast, Italian Roast, Heavy Roast, and New Orleans Roast. The beans have a shiny, black coloration with an oily surface. The coffee has a very intense flavor with a distinct roast taste. Medium-dark roasts highlight the bittersweet chocolate notes of the coffee. If you want to enjoy a cup of coffee with rich and complex flavors, then a medium-dark roast should be your go-to option.
4. Dark Roasts
The fourth and final level is the Dark Roast, also identified as the European Roast or Espresso Roast. The coffee beans attain 455 to 480 degrees Fahrenheit, undergoing a second crack. You’ll see more oil on the surface of the beans compared to medium roasts. The flavor profile for this coffee roast is intense with a slightly burnt taste.
Coffees falling under this category include Spanish Roast, Italian Roast, and Turkish Roast. The beans have a shiny, black coloration with an oily surface. The coffee has a very intense flavor with a distinct roast taste. Dark roasts highlight the bittersweet chocolate notes of the coffee. If you want to enjoy a cup of coffee with rich and complex but smoky flavors, then a dark roast is the answer!
How to Choose the Right Coffee Roast for You
People ask, what does coffee roasting achieve? The method brings out the flavor you enjoy each time you sip from a coffee mug. Roasting replaces the earthy and grassy smell in coffee with a chocolatey and caramelized flavor.
Now that you know all about different coffee roasts, it’s time to choose the right one for you. When it comes to choosing the right coffee roast, there are two things you need to take into consideration – your personal preferences and the brewing method you’ll be using.
Your Personal Preferences
The first thing you need to take into consideration is your personal preferences. Do you prefer a light coffee with delicate flavors or a dark coffee with rich and intense flavors? Do you like your coffee to have a milder taste or a stronger taste? These are all important questions you need to ask yourself before you can choose the right coffee roast for you. Responses to these questions offer a foundation to evaluate and settle on your best coffee roast.
The Brewing Method You’ll Be Using
The second thing you need to take into consideration is the brewing method you’ll be using. The brewing method you use will have an impact on the flavor of your coffee. For example, if you’re planning on using a French press to brew your coffee, you’ll want to choose a coffee roast that has a heavier body. This is because the French press doesn’t filter out all of the coffee’s oils and particles, which can result in a coffee that tastes oilier and heavier.
On the other hand, if you’re planning on using a drip coffee maker to brew your coffee, you’ll want to choose a coffee roast that has a lighter body. This is because the drip coffee maker filters out most of the coffee’s oils and particles, resulting in a coffee that tastes cleaner and brighter.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the right coffee roast for you is all about finding the perfect balance between your personal preferences and the brewing method you’ll be using. Keep these two things in mind, and you’ll be sure to find the perfect coffee roast for you.
Coffee Roasting Process
This is just a summarized process of the coffee roasting process. Check out our detailed coffee roasting breakdown.
- The coffee roasting process usually begins with the coffee cherries being sorted by ripeness and color. Once this is done, the coffee cherries go through a pulping process that removes the outer flesh of the fruit to get to the beans.
- After this, the beans are sorted according to size and weight before they undergo the actual roasting process. There are different methods of roasting, but the most common is drum roasting.
- The beans are placed in a rotating drum that’s heated to high temperatures. The heat source can be either hot air, infrared radiation, or a naked flame.
- As the beans roast, they move around the drum and are turned frequently to ensure even roasting. The roasting process usually takes between 10 and 15 minutes, although it can go on for longer depending on the desired roast level.
It’s during this process that the coffee beans expand and change color as they lose moisture. They also develop the characteristic coffee flavor we all know and love.
The roasted beans are then quickly cooled to stop the roasting process and preserve the flavor. After cooling, the beans are sorted according to quality and packaged for sale.
Coffee tip 2
Before closing this topic, there’s an emerging trend of people storing freshly roasted coffee beans in freeze-dry machines. It sounds insane to roast, grind and brew coffee only to store your coffee in a cold environment. Trends show actually this could be the best coffee hack. You end up with pure coffee crystals easily reconstituted once dissolved in water.
The best part is these coffee crystals can last up to 20 years without altering or losing their flavor!