When you pick up a bag of coffee at your local grocery store and there is medium-light roasting, what does that mean exactly?
The type of roast plays a crucial role in how your coffee tastes. Dark, medium and light roasted coffee beans all have unique flavor profiles; you may already have a favorite and you are not even aware of it.
Light roasts, for example, typically have the clearest, most sour tastes, medium is more balanced and smooth, and with dark roasted coffee you can taste the smoky roasting process rather than the origin of the coffee bean.
Coffee roasting is both an art and a science that can make or break the taste of your favorite brew. The bean itself means something, but coffee inherits most of its flavor from the roasting procedure. The length of the roasting process can affect the body, acidity and taste of your coffee beans.
In this article, we will take you through the four main coffee roasts and explain the differences between light, medium and dark, and how each one can have a decisive influence on how your coffee tastes.
The various coffee roasts
You will not become an expert fryer overnight. It takes many years of training to learn to read the prayers and make decisions in a split second that determines the outcome of a batch.
Many coffee roasters have their own personal grills that they have perfected. However, you can generally put roasts in four color types: light, medium-dark or dark.
Continue reading to learn more about the four types of coffee roasts.
Light coffee roasting
Popular names: Half-City, New England, Cinnamon
For a fryer, a light frying is just around the first crack when temperatures reach 356 ° F – 401 ° F. This is where the beans are in their early stages of expansion and cracking.
The lightly roasted coffee bean looks quite pale and dry at this point, and the brewed coffee will have a light fullness and clear signs of acidity.
Because the beans have been roasted for a short time, they typically have no oils on the surface because they are not roasted long enough at high temperatures.
Light roasted beans also tend to have more caffeine than other roasted profiles; the longer the roast, the more caffeine, and the acidity is drawn out of the beans by the heat.
These beans have a distinct taste profile due to the shortened roasting process that stops before any chemical changes occur inside the bean. The origin of coffee is much easier to identify in a lighter roast due to fewer flavors absorbed from the roasting process.
Medium coffee roaster
Popular names: Plain, city, American
Just after the first crack and just before the second crack, when temperatures are around 410 ° F – 428 ° F, is the ideal time for medium roasted beans.
The appearance of the medium roasted coffee bean is still somewhat dry, but the roasting profile is much sweeter and they have a slightly more fullness, and the longer roasting gives more flavor to the beans, resulting in less acidity.
For many coffee drinkers, a medium toasted has the perfect balance of aroma, acidity and flavor and is what the average American is used to drinking.
Medium dark coffee roasting
Popular names: Full City, Light Espresso, Light French, Wiener, Continental
The medium dark roasted coffee profile is just around the second crack when the temperature reaches 437 ° F – 446 ° F. At this stage, the beans will begin to show noticeable oils on the surface and are characterized by a dark brown color.
At this frying stage, the higher temperatures remove almost all of the acid, and many of the hidden aromas in the coffee begin to become apparent.
A medium-dark roast will have a richer, more complex flavor with more fullness and much less acidity. Some grocery store examples of a medium dark roast are Full-City Roast and Vienna Roast.
Dark coffee grid
Popular names: French, dark French, espresso, heavy, Turkish, Italian
Dark-roasted coffee is very easy to identify. When the temperature reaches between 464 ° F – 482 ° F, the coffee beans become black, shiny and too greasy.
At this point, it is almost impossible to detect the original taste of the bean and most of the taste inherited from the long frying process.
The beans will have sweeter, more caramelized flavors due to the natural sugars inside the beans that react with the prolonged heat. You can also expect to find more decadent flavors, lots of fullness and no acidity; the darker the beans, the less sour they are.
Look for a French roast or espresso roast if you enjoy pronounced bitterness with smoky undertones.
Other coffee roasting levels (charred, strong roasts)
Coffee beans roasted past a classic dark roast will be very black and extraordinarily greasy on the surface.
Special roasters will never roast their expensive hand-picked coffee beans of one origin so dark – it would just be a waste. Coffee roasted to these extreme levels has no originating properties and really tastes like roasted, charred ash coffee.
Drink at these roast levels if you dare. But as you know, we here at Bean Ground do not like to drink liquid charcoal!
Coffee roasting is both an art and a science
Before roasting, the humble coffee bean has none of the properties that the roasting process enhances.
The bean has a greenish hue and it is soft, playable, has very little flavor and has a slightly fresh grassy aroma. At this stage, the green coffee beans can be stored without loss of quality or flavor.
The roasting unlocks all the hidden flavors from inside the bean and causes several chemical changes.
All the natural sugars, starches and fats are emulsified and caramelized and then released quickly when the high temperatures rise.
When they reach the desired roasting level, the beans are cooled quickly to stop further processing. But when the coffee is finished with the roasting cycle, the taste quickly begins to wane.
Compared to the green coffee bean, the roasted bean actually smells of coffee, it weighs much less and they are ready to be ground and brewed.