4 Common Coffee Roasts

Common Coffee Roasts

Did you know that coffee beans are usually stored when they’re green? They’re stored this way in order to maintain freshness and quality prior to roasting. It’s the roasting that brings out the aroma and taste we all love.

Roasting uses high temperatures in order to bring about the chemical changes necessary to produce the desired taste when brewed. Roasts can be divided into four main categories. These are light, medium, medium-dark and dark. A bit of trivia you may not know is that the light roasts actually have a higher concentration of caffeine than the darker ones.

This guide to common coffee roasts will give you a basic understanding of each category and the types of coffee in each.  

  • Light Roasts: This type of roast usually yields a milder, more subtle flavor. The outer surface is dry due to the fact that the roasting process is not long enough to completely break the bean down. Sometimes the flavor can be slightly bitter, and such beans are used in the less expensive coffee blends. Common names for lightly roasted coffees include Cinnamon, Light, Half City, and New England.
  • Medium Roasts: These are a bit stronger in flavor and have a medium brown color. These roasts yield a bean that also has a dry surface. Medium roasts have a bright, crisp and fully developed flavor. A favorite of many U.S. coffee drinkers, you’ll find American roast in this category. Breakfast, Regular, City, and Medium also fall into this group.
  • Medium-Dark Roasts: These roasts have a slightly oily surface and are dark in color. They have a rich body and a sweet taste. You’ll find Full City, Continental, Viennese and Light Espresso among medium-dark roasts.
  • Dark Roasts: The final roast category is generally bittersweet in flavor with a black, shiny appearance. Low in acidity, these roasts have a broad variety from dark all the way to charred, losing acidity as darkness increases. Common names are French, Italian, Neapolitan and Spanish.

If you’re an experienced coffee drinker, you will know which roast you prefer. Those new to the beverage may wish to explore and try different roast until they find one that they like. Because there are so many varieties of coffee roasts, it’s always a good idea for even experienced coffee drinkers to try something new.


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