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Coffee Roasts - Exploring the Spectrum of Light, Medium & Dark

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Have you ever wondered how those green coffee beans turn into the aromatic and flavorful brew that kickstarts your day? It's all thanks to the incredible types of coffee roasts! This artful and scientific journey from raw coffee beans to your cup is responsible for bringing out unique aromas and flavors that make each sip an exquisite experience.


Coffee roasting has a long history, dating back to the 15th century in the Ottoman Empire. It's a task that requires skill and dedication, ensuring that the coffee beans reach their desired level of Roast to bring out the best in flavor and aroma.


The different types of coffee roasting are the key to unlocking the hidden depths of flavors in every bean. The entire process is an intricate balance of artistry and science, and it holds the power to transform your coffee from ordinary to extraordinary. The duration of the roasting process influences crucial elements like body, acidity, and flavor, creating a wide array of coffee profiles with every Roast.


Different Types Of Coffee Roasts (From Light To Medium To Dark)

In this blog, we'll explore coffee's captivating roasting spectrum, unraveling the nuances behind each roasting type. Understanding the different types of coffee roasts and their profiles will help you identify the perfect Roast that meets your unique taste preference and make you appreciate the various flavors of coffee.


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What is Coffee Roasting?


Coffee roasting is the alchemy that turns green coffee beans into the flavor bomb that explodes in your mouth. Applying heat to the coffee seeds leads to a series of chemical reactions, which brings out the hidden flavors of the beans. It's like cooking the inside and outside of the coffee seed to perfection to unlock the fantastic aromas and flavors budding within the beans.


Why do we do it?


We roast coffee because it's the secret to unlocking its deliciousness! Green coffee beans may have potential, but only through roasting can we fully awaken their latent sweetness, acidity, aromatics, and texture. Roasting transforms the beans into a soluble form that can release all these beautiful qualities when brewed with hot water. So the next time you enjoy a cup of coffee, remember that it results from a particular roasting type that enhances every sip.


What does the roasting process do?


Green coffee beans do not emanate the aroma and taste we associate with coffee until roasted. The process of roasting brings about an intense transformation in these beans. They are toasted, resulting in a darkening of color and the emergence of rich, chocolatey, and caramelized flavors. As the temperature rises, oils begin to appear on the surface of the beans, enhancing their complexity.


At a specific temperature, around 401°F, the beans crack for the first time, a process known as the "first crack." This crack marks the beginning of expansion for the beans. As the roasting continues, at approximately 437°F, the beans crack again, known as the "second crack." These cracks are significant milestones in the roasting process.


High-quality coffee beans are never roasted beyond 482°F. Going beyond this temperature can result in thinning out the beans and imparting an unpleasant burnt taste resembling charcoal. The roaster's skill lies in finding the perfect roasting type for each coffee variety and achieving the desired roast level that brings out the best flavors in the beans.


The Types of Coffee Roasts


1. Light Roast Coffee

Light roast Coffee results from a shorter roasting process, reaching temperatures between 356°F and 401°F. These beans maintain their soft color and lack surface oils since they are not roasted at high temperatures. Due to the minimal roasting time, light roast coffee retains more caffeine and acidity than darker roasts. With a distinctive taste profile, light roasts showcase the coffee bean's original flavors, allowing the origin's unique characteristics to shine through. Often accompanied by citrus or lemon undertones, the acidity in light roast coffee adds a refreshing and pleasing element to the overall flavor experience.


2. Medium Roast Coffee


Medium roasted coffee, heated between 410°F-428°F, embodies the sweet spot between light and dark with a touch more body and less acidity. Medium-roasted beans have a richer, medium-brown color and offer a more pronounced sweetness than light roasts while retaining some of the nuanced flavors. The taste profile of medium roasts often includes notes of caramel, chocolate, nuts, and sometimes a hint of fruitiness. This roast level is a popular choice for many coffee enthusiasts as it provides a harmonious combination of flavors and a pleasant acidity that is neither too sharp nor too mild.


3. Medium-Dark Roast


Medium-dark roasts are achieved when coffee beans are roasted to an internal temperature of 437°F - 446°F, typically reaching or shortly after the second crack. At this stage, the oils on the surface of the beans become more apparent due to the higher temperatures. The result is a delightful roast with a fuller body, richer flavor, and reduced acidity. Coffee brewed from medium-dark roasted beans often showcases notes of dark chocolate, toasted nuts, and a hint of caramelized sweetness. The balance between acidity and bitterness makes this roast level popular for espresso-based beverages.

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4. Dark Roast Coffee


Dark coffee roasts are achieved at temperatures ranging from 464°F to 482°F, rendering the appearance of oils on the beans. Unlike lighter roasts, dark roasts tend to mask the Flavors of the origin of the coffee bean and instead yield the effects of the roasting process. These roasts offer sweeter flavors as the sugars within the beans caramelize during the longer roasting time. With a rich and full-bodied profile, dark coffee roasts often exhibit a buttery finish and have the least acidity compared to other roast levels. Due to their extended roasting time, dark roasts have the lowest caffeine content. French Roast, known for its pronounced smoky flavor, represents the darkest roast level. Dark coffee roasts are often associated with European names, reflecting their popularity in Europe, such as Italian roasts.


The magic that the roasting process does to transform the green coffee beans forges the flavors and characteristics of the final cup of coffee you love. From the vibrant and nuanced light roast coffee to the bold and robust dark coffee roasts, each type of coffee roast offers a unique sensory experience. Coffee lovers get a wide array of flavor profiles and tasting notes to discover their preferred roast level and a chance to experiment with different flavors and brew methods thanks to this process. Whether you savor the delicate notes of a light roast or prefer the strong, smoky tones of a dark coffee roast, there is a coffee roast out there to suit every palate. So, go ahead, explore the magical world of different types of coffee roasts, and discover the culture and art of coffee one sip at a time.


Buy High-Quality Coffee Beans: https://www.mymokafe.com/shop


Dark Roast Coffee vs. Light Roast Coffee


Discover the striking differences between dark and light roasts: dark roasts boast bold, smoky flavors with a full-bodied profile, while light roasts showcase delicate acidity and vibrant fruity notes.

Aspect

Dark Roast

Light Roast

​Roasting Temperature

​464°F - 482°F

​356°F - 401°F

​Bean Appearance

​Oily surface and dark brown color

Light brown color

​Flavor Profile

​Bittersweet, smoky, bold

Bright, acidic, delicate

​Aroma

​Intense and robust

Floral and fruity

​Acidity

​Low

​High

​Body

​Full and heavy

Light and crisp

Caffeine Content

Lower caffeine due to longer roasting time

Higher caffeine content

​Notable Examples

​French roast, Italian roast

​Cinnamon roast, New England roast

Medium Roast Coffee vs. Dark Roast Coffee


Explore the nuances of medium and dark roasts: medium roasts offer a balanced and rich flavor profile, complemented by toasty and nutty aromas, while dark roasts bring bold smokiness and a full-bodied experience to the table.

Aspect

Light Roast

Dark Roast

Roasting Temperature

410°F - 428°F

464°F - 482°F

Bean Appearance

Medium brown color

Oily surface and dark brown color

Flavor Profile

Balanced, rich, slightly sweet

Bittersweet, smoky, bold

Aroma

Toasty and nutty

Intense and robust

Acidity

Medium

Low

Body

Medium and smooth

Full and heavy

Caffeine Content

Moderately lower compared to light roast

​Lower caffeine due to longer roasting time

​Notable Examples

American roast, City roast

​French roast, Italian roast

Light Roast Coffee vs. Medium Roast Coffee


Experience the extraordinary qualities of light and medium roasts: Light roasts entice with their delicate and vibrant essence, unveiling a symphony of flavors that encompass floral notes, fruity undertones, and a refreshing acidity that invigorates the palate. Meanwhile, medium roasts strike a harmonious equilibrium, boasting a refined flavor profile that reveals delightful nuances of caramel and chocolate, offering a smooth and satisfying taste experience.

Aspect

Light Roast

Medium Roast

Roasting Temperature

355°F to 400°F (179°C to 204°C)

410°F to 428°F (210°C to 220°C)

Bean Appearance

Light brown, dry surface

Medium brown, slightly oily surface

Flavor Profile

Delicate, floral, fruity, bright

Balanced, nuanced, caramel, chocolate

Aroma

Vibrant, aromatic, tea-like

Aromatic, balanced, nutty

Acidity

High acidity, tangy, citrusy

Moderate acidity, balanced

Body

Light body, crisp

Medium body, smooth

Caffeine Content

Higher caffeine content

Slightly lower caffeine content

Notable Examples

Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Costa Rican Tarrazu

Colombian Supremo, Guatemalan Antigua

Final Thoughts

Having delved deeper into the world of coffee roasts, one is bound to feel the urge to explore it even more. At Mokafé, we offer diverse flavors of specialty coffee from Yemen and Guatemala for you to explore. So here's your chance to embark on a journey to discover various roasts and their unique flavor profiles. Each roast type holds the potential to surprise and become your newfound favorite. If we have succeeded in arousing your interest in the nuances of coffee making, we have just the thing for you to learn about the different types of coffee. At Mokafé, we are your go-to resource for all things coffee.


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About The Author: Jorge Armando Ciciliani
Jorge - Coffee Expert

Jorge is a seasoned coffee professional with a lifelong passion for all things coffee. For over a decade, he has fervently immersed himself in the world of coffee, mastering its preparation, understanding its societal impact, and uncovering its cultural significance. Starting as a barista at the young age of 15 and later managing a coffee roastery, this journey led him to work as a quality control manager for a green coffee importer. Traveling across countries in Central and North America, Jorge has explored various coffee traditions and honed his skills through Specialty Coffee Association courses. As a QC Cupping coffee connoisseur and sensory skills enthusiast, Jorge is a true expert in the art of brewing and savoring the perfect cup. Consider him your trusted Fika expert.

 

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