There are four overarching kinds of coffee roasts, surly terms all of us have heard. Light, medium, medium dark and dark roasts.
All coffee drinkers have become familiar with these descriptive terms, however, most do not realize that these terms can often be misleading. In the below, we cover what each type of roast actually means and what can be expected in terms of differences.
What Is A Roast?
Coffee beans, as they come fresh, will not be ideal for the warm beverage we know and love. To prepare green coffee beans for your drink, they get roasted at 150 °C/302 °F until the ideal colour and texture is achieved.
This is not as simple as setting an over at one temperature, as the coffee beans go through endothermic and exothermic reactions during this process. Through the maillard and other chemical reactions, the coffee bean almost doubles in size and loses 15% of its mass to make the perfect bean for your next cup of coffee.
A light roast is a coffee that has been roasted for a short amount of time. Light roasts will boast a much more prominent origin flavour without the deeper or bitter flavour profile of darker roast coffees. Light roasts will be apparent by the light-brown colour and sometimes sweet smell, along with the lack of any oil on the surface of the bean.
As light roasts are roasted for less time, they end up as a denser coffee bean, still having more oils and moisture inside the bean. Contrary to popular belief, roasting coffee beans does not change the caffeine content, as the caffeine is unaffected by the roasting process. The denser bean of a light roast is likely to give a little more caffeine per cup of coffee than darker roasts.
Medium roast retains a lot of the benefits of the light roast while having a few from dark roast as well. Medium roast can be identified by a slightly darker brown than the light roast, while still having no oils apparent on the bean’s surface.
A medium roast will still present the flavours of origin with a deeper and less sweet tone. Medium roast is one of the most popular roasts as it provides a great balance between the roasts.
Slightly over roasted medium beans fall into the medium dark range. Many of the qualities of the medium roast while having a deeper flavour and potentially more bitter flavour overpowering any qualities of sweet that were left. In medium dark roast, some oils start to become apparent of the surface of the bean.
A dark roast has a robust, full body, sacrificing any nature of sweet flavour for a deep or strong flavour profile.
The richness and boldness of dark roast may not be the favourite of all coffee drinkers but is certainly worth a try. Dark roasts can be identified by the very dark almost blackened colour and glossy surface from the oils which have been extracted from the bean.