Light, Medium and Dark Roast: the differences
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes down to drinking coffee. One likes an espresso, filtered coffee, or americano, while others love their milk-based coffees such as cappuccino, a flat white, a macchiato, and many other options. All these drinks have their own unique characteristics and taste. And that’s a good thing because otherwise, we might as well all drink the same. Luckily that isn’t the case and in many coffee places, there is a huge assortment of beverages to choose from, as well as there are differences in coffee roasts to choose from.
1. What influence does the type of roast have?
But there are more factors other than the type of drink that affects the taste of your preferred beverage. One of them is the type of bean roast that was used while preparing it. The type of roast you pick will highly influence the taste of the beverage you will make or buy. In this article, we elaborate on which three main types of roasts there are; Light, Medium and Dark Roast. We explain how the differences in coffee roasts affect the taste of your beverage. If you want to read more about the roasting process in general, feel free to check out our blog ‘The basics of roasting coffee beans’.
2. Light coffee roasts
Let’s start with the light roast. Naturally, the lighter beans have been roasted for a shorter period of time. Generally, light beans are released into the cooling sieve a couple of minutes after the first crack occurs. One of their characteristics is that the oils are still inside the bean. This is because the beans haven’t been roasted long enough to get them so hot that the oils start to release themselves. Lightly roasted coffee has high caffeine and acidity levels. When you roast a bean for a longer period of time, it will decrease these acidity and caffeine levels. Because the flavor of lightly roasted beans is underdeveloped compared to darker roasts, the flavor may occur as toasted, and grain-like.
- High caffeine levels
- High acidity
- Toasty, grain-like taste
- Fruity smell
3. Medium coffee roasts
After the light roast, medium roast follows. These beans have been roasted for a longer period; the beans enter the cooling sieve right before the second crack. Like with lightly roasted beans, the oils are still within the bean. The fact that it has been roasted for a bit longer results in a taste with a bit more body. The levels of acidity and caffeine have been decreased which results in a taste that is a bit more balanced.
- Moderate caffeine levels
- Moderate acidity
- A sugary, sweet taste
- Balanced flavors
4. Dark coffee roasts
At last, we have dark roast beans. Again, these beans have been roasted a bit longer compared to the previous two variants. These beans have been roasted long enough for the oils to come out. This results in a shiny dark bean, while lighter roasted beans have a matte color. The flavors of origin have all been eliminated because of the higher temperature and roast duration. The only flavors that are left are the flavors you created during roasting. Since the beans have had time to caramelize, dark roast beans tend to deliver a sweet flavor. The beans create a rich flavor and full body when making espresso coffee. Since these beans have been roasted for the longest period of time, caffeine levels are rather low.
- Low caffeine levels
- Low acidity
- Bittersweet taste
- Bold flavor
These are the three basic types of coffee roasts. Of course, every roastery has its own indication of roast levels. This article is a basic explanation of the main three roast levels and the characteristics and differences belonging to the different coffee roasts. There are in-between phases, but also roasts that are darker than the standard dark roast. Our advice is to keep experimenting with different types of roasts. Only then you can find your or your customer’s preference. One way to do this consistently is with a sample roaster. By controlling drum speed, pressure, power, and temperature, you can control the entire roasting process and create the perfect curve. These were the basic differences in coffee roasts, feel free to leave a comment when you have any further questions.