Understanding the Different Types of Coffee Roasts

6 different type of coffee beans

Have you ever placed a coffee order and been prompted to select a roast from light, medium, or dark? Or have you ever seen these words printed on a coffee bag and wondered what they meant?

Although the majority of coffees are categorized according to a light-to-dark spectrum, this term is not universally understood. The medium roast from one roaster may be lighter than the light roast from another. When it comes down to it, roast levels can be perplexing but they can also be helpful in general. So what distinguishes a light roast from a dark roast? 

What is Coffee Roasting? 

To begin with, roasting coffee means cooking. It basically means using heat to transform coffee from its unroasted state, also known as "green coffee," into a product that can be brewed, sipped, and enjoyed. In order to reach the mouthwatering flavors within, roasting modifies the chemical and physical characteristics of the coffee bean. 

Heat and time are the two major parameters that define how coffee is roasted, just like when baking a cake or cooking a steak. Green coffee can be roasted on a hob, in an oven or even over an open flame, which is how it was first roasted. In some nations (Ethiopia being the leading example, fire roasting is still the main method for roasting). Most of the time, professionally trained roasters use specialized equipment to ensure that commercially accessible coffee is made correctly. 

How does Roasting work?

Although roasting can take many different forms, its main objective is to heat the beans so that they roast uniformly and consistently. If the temperature is too high, the beans will burn; if it is too low, the flavors won't completely meld. Too much time will result in the delicate flavors being roasted out, while not enough time will result in bland flavors. To get the correct flavors, the challenge is to use the proper amount of heat for the proper amount of time. 


Although it seems difficult, it's not really that difficult. The roasting process takes 8 to 18 minutes on average in industrial coffee roasters, taking less time for light and medium roasts and more time for other medium and dark roasts. Depending on the machine, the temperature can vary greatly, but in general, light roasts are often roasted to slightly around 400° F, dark roasts can reach up to 440° F, and medium roasts fall somewhere in the middle. 

What’s the Flavor Difference?

There is no precise definition for light, medium, and dark because each coffee and each machine differs. In other words, it is impossible to determine the roast level of a coffee bean by looking at it, especially between light and medium and medium and dark. But each of these roast degrees reflects a certain set of universal traits.

Visually, light roasts are light brown in color. They might have citrus notes, floral scents, and the most delicate flavors and are frequently the most acidic coffees. The goal of "light" roasting a coffee is to bring out the natural flavors of the bean without adding any roasted or toasted characteristics. Light roasts are frequently the preferred method for roasters showcasing unique, high-quality coffees since they bring out the origin country and processing method flavors the most.

different coffee flavours

Despite having a wide range of brown hues, medium roasts frequently have a uniform colour and no oil on the bean's surface. Coffees that are medium roasted typically have a balance of flavors, aromas, and acidities. They have greater sweetness and mouthfeel due to longer roasting durations and higher temperatures, but they still retain some of the brightness and complexity of a light roast.

As the name suggests, dark roasts are a dark brown to occasionally almost black color. Some beans—but not all—have oil on their surface, which is a result of longer roasting times and higher temperatures and comes from the beans themselves. Dark roasts have a flavor that is roasted, smokey, charred, bitter, and "strong," and they frequently have a thicker mouthfeel or a gritty texture. Often, there is little to no acidity. Coffee bean subtleties are lost during roasting, which produces flavors that are more pronounced.

Why Roast Light/Medium/Dark?

Most of coffee's history has been spent with dark roasting. This was the preferred roast level for a number of reasons, including inferior green coffee (dark roasting can remove "bad" flavors), technological constraints in roasting (lack of consistency and precision in machines), and cultural preferences and customs (people tend to prefer what they are accustomed to). But now, things are altering.

Pouring coffee

Equipment for coffee roasting and brewing has improved recently along with developments in coffee farming, processing, and storage. These modifications, together with a change in worldwide consumption patterns, have created a whole new world of delectable coffee! Nowadays, it's easy to find specialty green coffee of the highest calibre, which makes lighter roasting possible. In order to measure temperature changes more precisely, roasting devices have evolved. Customers are also requesting coffees with bright, complex flavors, and flavors they have never experienced before.

Which Roast is Best?

Does this imply that we should never eat medium or dark roasts again? No! Lightly roasted coffees aren't always the best. Additionally, a lot of people favor the bitter and "strong" tastes of a dark roast or the more well-rounded sensation of a medium coffee. And that's totally okay!

Chariot's gold blend instant coffee

The roast you most enjoy is ultimately the greatest. The optimal roast is made with Chariot's medium-roasted coffee beans because they are less acidic and have a well-balanced flavor. 


1. Which coffee roast is more bitter?

Ans: Contrary to popular belief, the level of roast does not necessarily determine the bitterness of coffee. Bitterness in coffee is primarily caused by compounds called tannins and phenols, which are present in varying amounts in different types of coffee beans. The bitterness of coffee can also depend on factors such as brewing method, water temperature, and extraction time.

2. Which roast of coffee is healthiest?

Ans: When it comes to health benefits, the roast level of coffee is not the most important factor. Rather, the health benefits of coffee depend on the type and quality of the coffee bean, as well as how it is processed and brewed. Coffee contains antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that may help reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and some types of cancer.

3. What type of coffee roast is best?

Ans: The best type of coffee roast largely depends on personal preference and taste. Different coffee roasts can bring out different flavor profiles and characteristics in coffee beans, so what may be considered the "best" roast for one person may not be the same for another. The best type of coffee roast is the one that you enjoy the most and that satisfies your taste preferences. It's worth experimenting with different roasts and brewing methods to find the one that suits you best.

4. Which coffee roast is strongest?

Ans: Some coffee drinkers think dark roasts are stronger and have more caffeine kick than light roasts. The truth, however, is that caffeine content remains pretty much the same during each stage of the roasting process. The difference between roasts is taste, not the amount of caffeine.

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