Types of Coffee Roast Explained | Light, Medium, Dark | Everything You Need To Know - Twisted Goat Coffee Roasters

Types of Coffee Roast Explained | Light, Medium, Dark | Everything You Need To Know

Apr 27, 2023Meagan Mason


The powerfully humble fruit referred to as a coffee cherry, or coffee berry houses what we know as the coffee bean.

For centuries it has been grown, farmed, and harvested to become one of the world's leading industries and is essentially fueling millions of people throughout their day.

We take a closer look at everything you need to know about this seed from the roasting process to whether or not to use dark beans over light, and how the magic of coffee roasting transforms the green coffee bean into that velvety espresso or americano that gets placed in front of you at the cafe.

Coffee Roasting Process

It may seem like a complicated technique to change a green bean to a brown-flavored one, but essentially there are 3 main stages of the roasting process:

The Drying Stage - This lasts up to 8 minutes and helps to draw out the 12% humidity the beans hold in them, and done to a temperature of 160'C.

The Browning Stage - The Maillard reaction begins by adding caramelization the longer it browns, and this continues to the first crack where development begins and results in dark brown beans.

The Development or Roasting Stage - This is where the aroma compounds develop and need to be carefully monitored to prevent a smoky taste that is too sharp.

What is the most popular roast of coffee?

5 types of coffee roasts

Green coffee beans are transformed into roasted coffee products by the roasting process. The types of coffee roasts are created by changing the taste of green coffee beans.

We all enjoy coffee roasts a particular way and the coffee bean itself plays only a small part when you consider the coffee roast levels achieved for varying flavor profiles.

Some coffee roasts have a smooth flavor, others a rich flavor, and when done well, you may even enjoy the sweet caramelized flavors of the Malliard reaction. This happens just as the outside of the coffee beans begins to roast.

Blonde roast

The light brown bean roasts, when compared to the darker roasts, offer a light roast flavor against a medium roast but are still strong in taste, unlike the dark roast.

The light roast coffee has more noticeable citrus notes and many coffee drinkers say they prefer it as they can taste more of the coffee bean.

If you are like many coffee lovers who enjoy a more intense flavor in the morning, then a light roast coffee or light espresso may be just the answer.

Half City roast

A half-city roasting process is a shortened roasting process (also known as a light roast or cinnamon roast) whereby the coffee beans are roasted to an internal temperature of 360-400'F, or just past the first crack.

The plus side of a half-city roast or light roast is that you get the caffeine kick you need to start the day, but it has a less acidic flavor profile so you can enjoy it for longer.

Continental roast

A full city roast, also known as a continental roast, is one of the darker roasts, if not the strongest. People who prefer a medium dark roast, and especially medium roast drinkers, tend to find these dark roasts too bitter.

These dark roasts are more often than not used in milkier drinks for a more balanced flavor, and to downplay the bitter taste you get from these dark brown color coffee beans with their oily surface.

Espresso roast

This roasting process uses green coffee beans which is not an indication of the types of coffee roasts but rather the espresso-making process.

Any type of coffee beans such as arabica beans or others can be used but the roasting process is what creates the difference between a light roast, medium roast, or dark roast.

Viennese roast

Compared to the American roast the Vienna roast has a slightly darker coloring and a speckled oily surface. Roasting coffee beans that much longer brings out the oils, and is what makes it characteristically a medium dark roast coffee.

This medium roast coffee does not come from Vienna as many people think the coffee beans get their name from their origin, but rather refers to the coffee roasting level and color.

What are the different coffee roasts?

Shopping for coffee beans or varieties can quickly become overwhelming with roasts such as England roast or Orleans roast there are so many options not to mention the colorings.

Let's take a quick look at the top 4 types of coffee roasts and the next time you head to the shops you won't feel as daunted approaching the coffee aisle.

Dark roast coffee (other names it goes by: Italian roast, French roast, or Espresso) - Dark roast beans are popular and get their dark color because they have had a long time to caramelize which helps to develop a fuller body and rich flavor. The dark coffee bean is evident all over Europe with the dark roasts extremely popular in the Balkan areas.

Medium dark roast (other names it goes by: Light French roast coffee, Light espresso, or Continental) - Coffee roasters roast the green coffee bean till just after the second crack, and when the oil specks begin to show on the bean surface. Medium dark coffee is a fuller flavor and less acidity than say light roasts or even medium coffee roasts.

Medium coffee roasts (other names it goes by: American, City, or Regular) - Medium roasts reach an internal bean temperature of 410-428'F, just before the second crack occurs. This medium brown caffeine drink is the most popular in America as they are the most balanced and have the least burnt taste. An example of a medium roast is the breakfast roast with its subtle flavoring but still paced with caffeine.

Light roast coffee roasts (other names it goes by: cinnamon roast, or New England) - When it comes to lighter roasts and roasted beans, time and heat are the main factors, and for light roast coffee roasts these are both very minimal. Therefore, because of the quick roast level, this drink has the most caffeine but also the most acidity compared to the darker roast.

What type of coffee roast is best?

We all know that coffee preference comes down to personal choice.

Where some people need to start the day with a strong espresso and its slight bittersweet aftertaste, others enjoy a blonde roast coffee, but the main objective remains the same.

Appreciating the types of coffee roasts and the espresso machine that transforms those humble beans into a decadent caffeine-infused hot drink.

But if you were to pinpoint a favorite between a dark roast coffee or one of the light roasts, your best option is to go with a gold roast. It has a high ratio of caffeine and is smooth to drink.

What's the most popular coffee roast?

A coffee roast that is full-flavored yet well-balanced, rich, and aromatic makes the medium roast coffee the front runner.

Lightly roasted beans and darker beans come a close second, but nothing compares to medium roasts that essentially tick all the boxes for all demographics.

Coffee Roasts: Choose Your Type

Who would've thought that the type of coffee roast level of the humble coffee bean was such an integral part, yet the variations of just that allow the world to enjoy everything from medium dark roasts of coffee to light roasts with their ambient light brown color?

Coffee drinking is a global enjoyment by people young and old.

You may enjoy a morning on the porch with your full french press and coffee mug as you wake up with the day, or even add in a few curls of dark chocolate for something more decadent to treat yourself, and why not.

The fact remains, a simple roasted bean has changed the way we live our lives, start our days, and socialize, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Who knew roasting beans would be so impactful?

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