The Different Types of Coffee Roasts: A Guide
Everyone has a favorite coffee roast. Perhaps you prefer the tangy and floral flavors of light roast, or maybe you’re more into the bold and toasty flavors of dark roast. Or maybe you like to keep it basic and fill up on the classic, balanced medium roast (no judgement, it’s popular for a reason). Whatever your preference, there’s a perfect cup of joe out there for you and everyone else. All you have to do is try out a few to find your favorite and that’s definitely the best part – because who doesn’t love having yet another excuse to drink some coffee?
The amount of roasting that a coffee bean undergoes prior to grinding affects every aspect of a its flavor, texture, and appearance. Prior to roasting, coffee beans are soft, light green morsels extracted from the red cherries of the coffee plant (yes, coffee beans are actually seeds). Once they have been washed, dried, and removed from their parchment-like hull, the green beans are roasted and become, well, coffee.
The Color of Success
Coffee beans are typically described in terms of their color. Lighter beans have a lighter brown color, and darker beans, well, you probably get the picture. To get a batch of coffee beans to a specific level of roast relies on two factors: temperature and time. Coffee roasters are experts at knowing when to “drop” their roast, which stops the process completely once the coffee has been roasted to the desired level.
Identifying roast by color alone is almost impossible for all but the most experienced coffee aficionado.This is the kind of information that an expert coffee roaster might be less inclined to share because it really makes all of the difference in the end. Once a roaster discovers the perfect temperature and time for a particular bean, they are going to hold onto that combination like a bar of gold. Because for them, it’s just as valuable!
Light roast coffees are the lightest in color compared to other roasts, as you probably could have guessed. They have little to no oil on the surface of the bean, leaving them more dull-looking than their darker counterparts.
Light roasts tend to have a brighter taste than other coffees, with a higher level of acidity. Many people aren’t aware of this, but light roasts have the highest caffeine content due to the shorter roasting process. If you want to roast your own coffee to a perfect light flavor, aim for an internal temperature of 356°F – 401°F. The “first crack” happens when the beans split and expand, which should happen right around 401°F ( a roast dropped at the first crack is also known as a New England Roast).
Some other common light roast coffees include Light City, Half City, and Cinnamon Roast, all of which occur before the first crack.
Medium roasted coffee is roasted to an internal temperature of 410°F and 428°F. Medium roasts also have no oil on the surface, but provide a more balanced flavor and richer aroma than light roast coffee. The longer roasting time allows more flavor to develop in the beans, bringing out more tasting notes specific to the regions in which the beans are grown. The caffeine content in medium roasts is slightly decreased, but retains more than dark roast coffee.
Examples of medium roasts include After Dinner Roast, Vienna Roast, and Full-City Roast.
Dark roast coffees are definitely more hyped up compared to medium and light roasts. The beans themselves appear dark and oily, and they retain less of the original flavors of that particular coffee bean. Due to a high roasting temperature (,464°F to 480°F) dark roast coffee can taste especially bitter, smoky, and sometimes even burnt. Contrary to popular belief, dark roasts have the least amount of caffeine.
The most popular types of dark roast you can find on the store shelves include Espresso Roast, Continental Roast, Spanish Roast, Italian Roast, and French Roast.
What’s your favorite coffee roast? Let us know next time you stop by Derby Joe and don’t forget to leave a review if you love our coffee!