types of coffee bean roasts

How to Differentiate Between Types of Coffee Roasts?

Coffee is a very popular drink. However, calling it popular doesn’t do justice to the stats showing that in 2019, over 2 billion cups of coffee were consumed daily. However, most people would be unable to recognize the source of coffee.

Coffee beans that are advertised and sold look nothing like the naturally occurring raw material used to produce the beverage. Coffee originates from the seeds of cherry-like red fruits, which are green in color. The complete process of making coffee is lengthy and unknown to most coffee drinkers.

Roasting is one part of the process that is quite complex. We may know the types of coffee roasts, but laymen may find the elaborate process and its minute details difficult to understand. 

So, to make it more comprehendible, here we’ve put forward the 4 primary types of coffee roasts and their subcategories.

What is a Light Roast?

Light roast coffee, as the name suggests, is the limited roasting of coffee beans until they are lightly roasted. While its light brown color is the easiest giveaway, its flavors are more nuanced. As a result, the coffee tastes mild and has no bitter aftertaste. 

Instead, it has an acidic taste, perceived as sour or tangy according to our taste buds. Also, it has a thinner mouthfeel, making it easy to drink and refreshing.

The beans are roasted at low heat for a short duration. Since the beans aren’t roasted excessively, they do not release their bitterness. They retain their original taste in the coffee and deliver a complex flavor profile. Light roasts are ideal for people looking for a quick caffeine boost with minimal bitterness.

Following is a table that states the different subtypes of light roast coffees.

Light Roast Coffee TypeRoasting Temperature in °CRoasting Temperature in °F
Cinnamon Roast196°C 385°F
Light Roast350°C457°F
New England205°C401°F
Half City205°C400°F
White Coffee162°C325°F

What is a Medium Roast?

A medium roast falls between the main roast types – light and dark. The coffee beans are roasted to reach an internal temperature of 410-418°F (210-214°C) for 10-15 minutes. 

It leaves the beans in a natural brown color. Also, since the roasting isn’t for very long, the beans do not release any oil, leaving the coffee usually free from any shine. 

It is a thicker consistency than a light roast and has floral undertones while being moderately bitter. It is a perfect fit for those who enjoy things in moderation and appreciate bitter tastes in reasonable amounts.

Following is a table that states the different subtypes of medium roast coffees.

Medium Roast Coffee Type Roasting Temperature in °CRoasting Temperature in °F
Breakfast/After Dinner215°C420°F
City Roast219°C 426°F

What is a Medium-Dark Roast?

A medium-dark roast is an often overlooked roast coffee. It lies between dark and medium and is a bridge for those trying to decrease or increase the bitterness of the coffee. 

A medium-dark roast can be considered coffee beans intended to be roasted as a medium roast but left for too long in the roaster

They have a bolder flavor, greater bitterness, and are darker than medium roasts. They also appear shiny as the excess roasting causes the oils to separate and surface in your coffee.

Following is a table that states the different subtypes of medium-dark roast coffees.

Medium-Dark Roast Coffee TypeRoasting Temperature in °CRoasting Temperature in °F
Full City225°C 437°F
Full City+234°C 454°F

What is a Dark Roast?

Dark roasts are perhaps the most commonly known type associated with coffee. Usually correlated to Arabica and Robusta beans, dark roasts are subjected to high temperatures between 239 – 246°C (462 – 474°F) for high durations. 

It results in the loss of moisture, which causes the beans to shrink. It also allows for the release of most of the bitterness of the coffee beans. The heat causes the oil in the beans to form a shiny surface in the coffee.

This roast is best for those preferring bitter tastes, as these beans have been roasted for too long. However, this makes the coffee taste nutty or chocolatey. 

Following is a table that states the different subtypes of dark roast coffees.

Dark Roast Coffee TypeRoasting Temperature in °CRoasting Temperature in °F
Vienna Roast239°C446°F
French Roast243°C464°F
Italian Roast246°C473°F


What type of coffee roast has the most caffeine?
Assuming that the same quantity of beans has been separated into batches at the roasting stage, many online sources claim that light roast coffee has higher caffeine content than dark roasts.
However, this is incorrect and based on volume. Since light roast coffee doesn’t spend much time in the roaster, the beans remain dense and higher in moisture than dark roasts. So, if you compare the weight of the light roast and dark roast, you will notice that the former is greater than the latter, which leads to the incorrect conclusion that it also has higher caffeine.
Irrespective of the roast, all coffees have approximately the same amount of caffeine. The difference is negligible.
What type of coffee roast is strongest?
The strength of the coffee is a subjective preference. For those people who are not used to bitter tastes, even medium roasts can be overbearing.
On objective consideration, we can conclude that the bitterness of coffee increases with the temperature and duration of roasting. Therefore, dark roast coffee is the strongest coffee available.
What are the best types of roasted coffee beans for espresso?
Most people prefer dark and medium-dark roast beans, but the truth is you can use any roasted coffee for espresso. Meanwhile, both Arabica or Robusta beans make excellent espressos. Experimentation is key to finding what type of coffee suits your taste palette perfectly.

Final Words

The art of coffee making is constantly evolving. While its complexities are difficult to understand, you can stay updated about general topics such as the types of coffee roasts to find the best roast for your individual preferences.

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