What Are the Different Coffee Roast Types

Do you consider yourself a coffee aficionado and master of the roast? Want to take your knowledge level up another notch and impress your friends – or more importantly your taste buds? Maybe you just want to do the impossible – learn how to enjoy your coffee even more than you do now. Whatever your reason, one thing is for certain: understanding coffee roast types will make your coffee brewing experience improve vastly. That’s why, in this article, we are going to go over the different coffee roast types from light to dark.

Why Coffee Roast is Important

Coffee beans – or more aptly, coffee seeds – come from the Coffea genus of plants, of which there are several species (well over 100), including Coffea arabica (the most popular and widely used) and Coffea canephora. These plants produce red and purple colored fruit commonly referred to a cherries or berries, which house the coveted “coffee beans”.

Harvested coffee beans are soft and pliant, and green in color. Prior to roasting they tend to lack flavor or that special aroma we have all come to love. That’s where roasting comes into play and why it is such an important part of the final coffee byproduct.

Different region of origination and climate helps shape the flavor profile of coffee, as does coffee age, brewing, and grinding, but the roast type or level is really key to the overall shape of the flavor. The roast level really determines the flavor you can expect from a cup of coffee.

Coffee Roasts Explained

Roasting is the method we use to heat those green, pliant beans and transform them into the brown beans that are more synonymous with our favorite caffeinated beverage. This roasting process not only changes the color and texture (it hardens the seeds) of our coffee beans, it helps bring about the flavor and aroma as well. This is because as the beans are heated, chemical processes occur, altering the eventual taste.

For the coffee layman – that is, anyone who is not a roast master – coffee roast can be determined by color (it is really defined by roasting temperature). There are a ton of different roast categories, depending upon how companies choose to brand their product, but overall, everyone tends to agree on a subset of four base roast types: Light Roasts, Medium Roasts, Medium – Dark Roasts, and Dark Roasts.

Light Roast Coffee

As the name implies, light roast coffee beans are a light brown in color and tends to be dry on the surface. Light roast is more acidic than its counterparts and has a high caffeine level and has a flavor mostly unaffected by the roasting process. If you want to see what your coffee truly tastes like at its core, then light roasted coffee is your cup of joe.

You may have also heard the light roast names: Cinnamon, Half City, Light City, and New England.

Medium Roast Coffee

Coming in a dry-surface, medium brown color, medium roasts have a lower amount of caffeine than light roasts, but are also heavier bodied and less acidic. They tend to benefit from the sugar carmalization that occurs with the higher roasting temperature, which adds more of that “roasted” flavor and aroma.

You may have also heard the medium roast names: American, Breakfast, City, and Regular roast.

Medium to Dark Roast Coffee

At this level, oil finally begins to reach the surface of the bean, blending in with the dark color and giving it a fantastic look. The roasting really kicks in for medium-dark roasts, contributing more to the taste, moving it further away from the original flavor. Full-bodied, spicy, and bittersweet are all used to describe coffee at this level.

You may have also heard the medium-dark roast coffee names: After Dinner, City+, Full City, and Vienna.

Dark Roast Coffee

The darkest (hence the name) of the roast types, dark roasted coffees are dark brown and verging on black with a great oily skin. Because of the roasting process, much of the caffeine has been roasted out, and the flavor/taste is often described as bitter, burnt, or even smoky. They are the fullest bodied roast.

You may have also heard the dark roast coffee names: Continental, Espresso, European, French, High, Italian, New Orleans, Spanish, and Viennese.

For more on the types of coffee Highland Mountain has to offer, visit our coffee and coffee services page.