What are the 3 types of coffee roasts?

Choosing the Right Coffee Roast: A Complete Guide to Coffee Roast Beans 

Wondering how to choose the best coffee roast? While we always recommend a freshly roasted Arabica blend (like these), knowing about the different types of coffee roasts can help you choose the best options for your specific tastes and preferences. So exactly what does the term “coffee roast” mean and how does one go about choosing the best coffee roasts for their needs? In this guide, we'll cover it all!

What are the three types of coffee roasts? 

While there are many overlapping roast types (light-medium, medium-dark, etc.), you can usually choose from: light roasts, medium roasts, and dark roasts. Understanding each of these main three categories of coffee roasts can help you determine which roast profiles will suit your tastes best. 

All About Coffee Roasts: Coffee Roast FAQS & More

Let's go over some frequently asked questions about the three main coffee roasts, where coffee beans come from, and why roasting coffee is such an important process in terms of flavor and acidity. That way, you will be able to more easily select the best freshly roasted coffee beans for your daily brew!


What Does the Term Coffee Roast Mean? 

Coffee roast means how long green coffee beans are exposed to heat to develop specific traits. According to the National Coffee Association, roasting coffee beans involves heating them to change their color and chemical makeup. The process produces specific flavors, oil characteristics, and aromas. 

You see, coffee beans are actually seeds that come from coffee plants, extracted from their red coffee fruits. These “beans” are then cleaned, dried, and then kept in their green, unroasted state for a designated time. Sometimes, green coffee beans are fermented or processed using water to bring out specific characteristics. 

Coffee roasting brings out the flavors locked inside of uncooked, green coffee beans. A green coffee bean has very different qualities than a roasted coffee bean. Green coffee beans are soft and spongy with a grassy aroma. Through the process of roasting, chemical changes take place and the beans reach specific temperature levels. After the coffee beans reach the desired temperature, they are cooled quickly and stored. 

Roasting enhances a coffee bean’s natural flavors, helps develop oils, and eliminates moisture to create a shelf-stable condition. Once coffee beans are roasted, their delicious and fresh flavors will begin to diminish, but their oils will be brought to the surface to make brewing simpler and better tasting. 

Since these oils will break down with time due to oxidation, it's best to consume freshly roasted coffee beans as soon as possible. The less time between roasting and grinding, the better your cup of Java will taste! This is why the best coffee retailers roast and ship their coffee on the same day. (You can Click here to Order Coffee Beans roasted fresh to order and shipped on the same day!)


What are the Different Types of Coffee Roasts? 

Generally, coffee roasts fall into one of three main categories. You can choose from light roasts, medium roasts, and dark roasts. There are plenty of overlaps in these categories (medium-dark, light-medium, blonde, etc.), but understanding each of the main three categories of roasts can help you determine which kind of profile might be best for you. 


• Light Coffee Roasts

Light coffee roasts are the palest in color because these coffee beans have been subjected to the least amount of heat and have undergone the fewest chemical changes. This means that they retain many of the original qualities of green coffee beans. Oftentimes, a light roast will have fruitier, earthier, nuttier, or more complex flavor notes compared to its darker counterparts. These nuances come straight from the coffee plant. Because of this, light coffee roasts tend to have more acidity, less bitterness, and a bolder, earthier, natural scent. 

Usually, light roast coffee beans are a light brown or even beige color. This type of roast profile is preferred for milder varieties of coffee with naturally strong flavor characteristics. These coffee beans are often dryer and less shiny in appearance with no oils on the surface. This is because the coffee beans are not roasted long enough for the oils to break through their surface. They produce a high-acidity, light-body brew. 

Qualities of Light Roasts:

• Delicate flavors and distinctive traits 

• High acidity with less body 

• Less bitterness but more astringency

• Natural aroma with earthy tones

• Less body than darker roasts

• Produce a light-body cup when brewed

Types of Light Roasts and Light Roast Terms: 

  • Light City Roast 
  • Half City Roast 
  • Cinnamon Roast 
  • Blonde Roast


• Medium Coffee Roasts

Medium coffee roasts are usually a rich, medium brown color. This type of coffee roast will have a stronger flavor profile than a light roast, with a non-oily surface. Often, medium coffee roasts are referred to as American roasts because this is the type of roast that is most highly preferred in the United States. 

Medium-roasted coffee beans often have a sweeter taste compared to light-roasted beans. Some of the natural characteristics of the coffee beans will be developed during the roasting process. However, certain characteristics, like astringency, will often be reduced. These coffee beans tend to also have a stronger flavor and more nuanced qualities compared to lighter roast coffee beans. 

Also, medium-roasted coffee beans still usually feel dry to the touch and are less oily than dark-roasted beans. Since they are roasted longer, their sweetness comes to the surface. Medium roast coffee beans may produce a fuller, thicker, and stronger body than light roasts when brewed. They also may have some underlying bitterness, depending on how long they are roasted. Medium coffee roasts are thought to be popular because they offer a great balance of acidity, sweetness, and flavors. 

Qualities of Medium Roasts:

• Mild yet still present acidity

• Lots of flavor and more sweetness

• Less astringency  

• Thicker, full-body brew

• Well-balanced nature 

Types of Medium Roasts and Medium Roast Terms: 

  • City 
  • House Roast 
  • Breakfast Roast 
  • American Roast 


• Dark Coffee Roasts

Last but not least are dark coffee roasts. Dark roasted coffee beans are usually dark in color because they have undergone the most chemical changes when compared to other roast types. The intrinsic qualities of these coffee beans are often thoroughly developed with some traits being removed and other characteristics being replaced from the roasting process. 

Oftentimes, these roasts have a full-body taste with a rich mouthfeel when brewed. Dark roasts are known for being incredibly smooth with low acidity. Sometimes, low-grade coffee beans are roasted dark, which helps to develop them to their fullest potential and mask any unfavorable qualities.  

Qualities of Dark Roasts:

• Minimal acidity levels

• Fewer intrinsic flavor nuances

• Savory notes like

• Distinctive bitterness

• Full, heavy body flavors

• Thicker or smoother mouthfeel 

Types of Dark Roasts and Dark Roast Terms

  • High Roast 
  • Low Acid Roast 
  • Continental Roast 
  • Viennese Roast 
  • Italian Roast 
  • French Roast 
  • New Orleans Roast 
  • European Roast 
  • Espresso Roast 


How to Go About Choosing the Best Coffee Roast? 

To choose the right coffee roast, you have to take into consideration how you will be enjoying your morning cup of Joe. Are you drinking black coffee? If so, you may want to consider trying a light roast without milk so that you can distinguish the different flavor notes in your cup. Adding milk may mask many of the subtle nuances of light-roasted coffee.  

However, if you prefer a dark, low-acidity roast, you may want to add milk to remove any unwanted bitterness and enhance the intrinsic rich and full-body mouthfeel. If you like medium roast coffee profiles, you might want to consider using a pour-over coffee brewing method to draw out more flavors and increase the complexity and depth of your cup of coffee. 

• In general, lighter roast profiles are great for people who want to taste the full impact of their coffee beans and are seeking floral, fruity, or citrusy traits. 

• If you like full-bodied brews, strong chocolatey notes, or a lot of smoothness in your cup, consider using a dark roast with a French press. 

• Many people associate the flavors of their coffee roast with strength. However, the strength of coffee can depend on several factors including the type of coffee bean, how you are brewing your coffee, and whether you will be adding milk or drinking your coffee black. 

Try a Few Different Options to Figure Out Which Roast Types You Prefer!

To get the best coffee, you might want to try a few different roast profiles on the exact same types of beans so that you can learn what you actually like. You can also try some different types of gourmet coffee beans so that you can get a sense of which coffees you really love compared to the types that aren’t your style. 

Don’t be afraid to experiment with new coffees and try new things! Your new favorite coffee could be just around the corner, after all. Check out this collection of gourmet coffees in various freshly roasted profiles shipped on the day you order from all around the world if you’re searching for something new and delicious to wake you up in the morning! 



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