Coffee Roasting 101

Coffee Roasting 101

You are a coffee lover just like us. Coffee is the essential drink to start your day, but have you figured out what your favorite coffee roast is? How do you like to drink your coffee? Dark? Light? Somewhere in the middle? We hope this guide can give you some more insight into coffee roasts.

Before roasting, green coffee beans are soft, with a fresh “earthy” smell and or no taste. The coffee roasting process transforms raw beans into the distinctively aromatic, flavorful, crunchy beans that we recognize as coffee. Other factors that influence the coffee you taste are the origin and the environment in which the coffee is grown. These circumstances are likely to make your coffee taste quite different even when roasted to the same level. The age of the coffee, the processing method, the grind, and the brewing method will also affect the taste. But the roast level provides a baseline, a rough guide to the taste you can expect.

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.

Roast level preferences vary depending on your palette. In the USA, West Coast coffee lovers like darker roasts while in the East Coast, people prefer lighter roasts. In Europe, people trend towards dark roasts, lending their names to the so-called French, Italian, and Spanish roasts that dominate the darker end of the roasting spectrum.

Light Roasts are light brown in color, with a light body and no oil on the surface of the beans. Light roasts have a toasted grain taste and pronounced acidity. The origin flavors of the bean are retained to a greater extent than in darker roasted coffees. Light roasts also have most of the caffeine from the coffee bean.

Medium Roasts 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. Our Levanta Muertos Coffee is in this spectrum. We believe the medium roast brings out the best flavor in a coffee.

Dark Roasts have a 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. Many dark roasts are used for espresso blends.

So Lets Sum This Up:
As coffee roasts get darker, they lose the origin flavors of the beans and take on more flavor from the roasting process. Lighter roasts have more acidity than darker roasts. Lightly roasted beans are dry, while darker roasts develop oil on the bean surface. The caffeine level decreases as the roast gets darker.
Ultimately, it’s all about the taste, the flavor, the aroma. You may prefer a lighter roast in the morning (with more caffeine) and a darker one later in the day.

Coffee roasts are a personal preference. What is yours?

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