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Four Types of Coffee Roasts

February 09 2023 – Stacey Oliver

Four types of coffee roast

Light roast or filter roast? Are these two the same things? What is blonde espresso? Is dark roast popular? Will a medium roast be sufficiently strong? There are so many choices and questions! When shopping Mile High's wide selection of coffees, the label will indicate whether the coffee is a light, medium, or dark roast. We can help you navigate the differences between them all so you can make a better-informed decision on which of our flavors to purchase!  

Whether you use coffee as a morning booster or combine it with a dessert, such as a croissant, no other hot beverage is more popular than coffee. Whether you are new to the coffee game or just looking to expand and diversify your palate, understanding the different types of coffee roasts is essential to finding your perfect cup.

Everyone has unique preferences and tastes when it comes to drinking coffee. Some people like Espresso, Americano, or filtered coffee. On the other hand, some love their milk-based coffees like cappuccino, a macchiato, or a flat white.

The roast type, such as dark roast, plays a crucial role in how your coffee looks and tastes. Light, medium, and dark-roasted coffee beans all have distinct flavor profiles, and you just may have a favorite! 

Coffee can be roasted at different temperatures and this is what directly affects the taste and profile of your tasty cup of Joe. In this article, we'll talk about the four different types of coffee roasts for every aficionado: light, medium, medium-dark, and dark roast! But first, let's start with the roasting process.


What’s the Meaning of Roast in Coffee? 

The roasting process is an intricate process that takes skill, technique, and expertise. Basically, it is the heating of green coffee beans to bring out their distinct flavor and aroma. Did you know that coffee beans come from a coffee cherry? 

The cherry is picked, processed, and sent to a coffee roaster for roasting.

The heat and length of the roasting process are important variables that determine what a coffee will taste and look like.

Types of Coffee Roasts

Caramel, cocoa, and nuts! Coffee comes in numerous delicious and aromatic flavors. The varying shades of sweet and toasty are usually recognizable, especially to a connoisseur. However, coffee can taste citrusy, salty, earthy, berry-like, or herbal! 

While many coffee roasters have their unique personalized roasts, you can generally divide roasts into four color types: light, medium, medium-dark, and dark.

Light Roasts

Usually, this type of roast provides a milder and more subtle flavor that many people love. Light roasts are coffee beans that have been roasted for a shorter period of time at lower temperatures, compared to medium and dark roasts.

What many people do not know is that light roasts have the same, if not higher, caffeine concentration than darker roasts! It's a common misconception that darker roasts contain more caffeine, but that is not necessarily true.

In most cases, light roasted beans are released into a cooling sieve a few minutes after the first crack occurs, and of the characteristics of these beans is that the oils are still inside them. This is simply because the beans have not been roasted long enough to make them so hot that the different oils start to pour out themselves. Sometimes their flavor can be a little sour. 

Lightly roasted coffee usually has high acidity levels compared to other roasts. When you roast a coffee bean for a longer period, the acidity level will decrease. Common or popular names for lightly roasted coffees include Light, Cinnamon, Half City, and New England. The term 'Filter Roast' also means coffee that was roasted for a short period of time at lower temperatures -- thus, the term 'Filter Roast' is just another way of saying 'Light Roast'! 

If you are wondering what blonde espresso is, it is espresso that is made from lightly roasted coffee beans resulting in a lighter color and milder flavor than traditional espresso. 

Light roast coffee is often described as tea-like, so if you are a tea drinker, this may be the best roast option for you!

Medium Roasts

A little stronger in flavor and medium brown in color, these popular roasts yield a bean with a dry surface. Medium roasts are popular with coffee roasters and coffee drinkers alike since they are the balance between light and dark roasts. The unique flavor profile can have acidity, body, and sweetness.

To make a medium roast, roasters heat the beans for a longer period of time than lighter roasts but a shorter amount of time than dark roasts. This results in a well-balanced flavor profile with hints of nuts and chocolate. 

If you are going with an automatic drip or choosing a pour-over brew method, you should try a medium roast! Medium roasts have a moderate amount of caffeine compared to other roasts, so they should be strong enough to get you through your work day without the jitters!

Medium-Dark Roasts

Medium-dark beans are roasted long enough not to be medium. However, they are not roasted quite long enough to be labeled dark. Also, at this stage, the coffee beans will show noticeable oils on their surface and have a dark brown color. 

Remember that at this roast stage, the higher temperature eliminates nearly all of the acidity. As a result, many hidden aromas start to become apparent. 

Medium-dark roasts have a more intense profile and stronger body than medium roasts. They are known for having smoky and toasty flavor notes, so medium roasts are often preferred by coffee drinkers who want a bolder taste. 

Aficionados of medium-dark roast usually prefer the French press or Espresso brewing methods. Keep in mind that the french press and espresso methods concentrate the coffee more, resulting in higher levels of caffeine! 

Dark Roasts

If you are looking for abundance in coffee flavor, dark is undoubtedly the way to go. This roast is generally bittersweet in flavor with a shiny, oily, and black appearance. Low in acidity, dark roasts have a wide variety from dark to charred, losing acidity levels as darkness increases. 

Dark roasts are known for being rich with notes of chocolate, dark caramel and sometimes dark fruit. They are very popular among coffee drinkers due to their stronger flavors. 

Common names for dark roasts are Italian, French, Neapolitan, and Spanish. If you are looking for a bolder, smoky cup of coffee, then dark roast may be the best option for you. 

Final Thoughts 

If you are an experienced coffee drinker, you probably know your roast preference. However, for people who have not explored the exciting world of coffee, it might take time to find a roast you enjoy. We recommend trying each roast at least once to find out what flavors taste the best to you!




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