Types of Coffee Roasts: Their Differences Explained
To help you customize your coffee experience, we’ve put together a guide to all of the major types of coffee roasts.
Knowing which roast is best for your preferences will help you brew a delicious cup of coffee that truly reflects your own personal style.
The Coffee Roasting Process
Prior to being roasted, coffee beans are green in color and lack the dark rich colors and distinct aromas we typically associate with coffee. The roasting process is what unlocks the beans potential and allows its unique characteristics to shine. It's part art, part science, and it takes years to master.
Each roasting method has its own effects on the bean itself, as well as the body, flavor, acidity, and aroma of your cup of coffee. As beans are roasted, the high heat burns off some of the natural acidity and caffeine, but releases more of the oils and sweetness present in the bean.
When beans roast they eventually crack, releasing the carbon dioxide and water vapor that they’ve taken on during the process. If coffee is left in the roaster long enough after the first crack, it has the potential to crack a second time.
Light roast coffees are removed from the roaster two to three minutes after the first crack, whereas dark roast can remain in the roaster past the 2nd crack, where they develop rich sweetness, a heavy body, and a roasty profile.
As coffees get darker they have less perceived acidity, but more oiliness and bitterness. Darker roasts also have less caffeine by volume than lighter roasts.
The 4 Types of Coffee Roasts
Roasts are categorized into four major categories: light roast, medium roast, medium-dark roast, and dark roast. Within each major type there are a number of minor variations. Let's take a closer look at each.
Light Coffee Roasts
Light roast coffees are roasted for less time than others and at lower temperatures. This results in a milder cup of coffee with more focus on the beans natural flavors than the flavors imparted from the roasting process.
While the exact temperature varies from roaster to roaster, here at Lucky Goat, the coffees labeled light roast have been roasted to an internal temperature between 408-412 degrees (farenheit).
Because light roasts allow for more of the natural flavors of the bean to shine, it is often a popular roasting method for single origin coffees.
Common Names For Light Roast Coffees
- Blond Roast
- Light City
- New England
- White Coffee
Medium Coffee Roasts
If Goldilocks was choosing a coffee, she'd land on a medium roast. In terms of caffeine, acidity, body,, medium roast coffees fall right in the middle of the spectrum.
Roasts that fall into the medium category usually finish with an internal temperature between 412-420. This brings out more sweetness without being overly bitter or oily.
A medium roast cup of coffee tastes great brewed using a number of different methods, which is another factor leading to their popularity.
Given their versatility and balanced flavor, it's easy to see why medium roasts coffees are the most popular in the United States.
Common Names For Medium Roast Coffees
- City Roast
- Medium Roast
Medium-Dark Coffee Roasts
As we move along the roast spectrum we come next to Medium-Dark roast coffees. Being the smart person you are, it won't shock you to hear that these are a bit bolder, richer and darker than the previous roast types.
Medium-dark roasts are heated to internal temperatures between 420-432 degrees, usually right before or after the 2nd crack occurs. This further decreases perceptible acidity, increases the coffee’s body, and we start to see visible oils on the beans surface.
One of our favorite methods for brewing medium-roast coffees is the french-press method which highlights the heavier body and richness of the tasting profile.. When using a french press be sure to use a coarse grind as its metal filter can sometimes lead to sediment with finer grind sizes.
Common Names For Medium-Roast Coffees
- After Dinner
- Full City
- Half/Light French
Dark Coffee Roasts
If you are a person who tends to enjoy roasty and smoky flavors, and a rich, full body, dark roast coffees are perfect for you. This method results in coffees with an oily surface and distinct bitterness.
Dark roasts are roasted past the 2nd crack, usually between 432-440 degrees. The long roasting process carmelizes the natural sugars present in the beans, which results in full bodied roasts that are sweet on the tongue.
Dark roasts have long been beloved by European coffee drinkers, which is why so many dark roasts are named after countries in Europe, but they are gaining popularity worldwide.
Common Names For Dark Roast Coffees
- French Roast
- Espresso Roast
- Italian Roast
- Turkish Roast
- High Roast
- Dark Roast
- New Orleans Roast