Coffee Roast Types

Typical Roast Flavor Characteristics

Light Roast

(Also called Cinnamon, American, New England Roast)

Roasted only until the “first crack,” when the beans pop or crack, visibly expanding in size.  This may occur after only several minutes roasting.

Light roasts are light brown with a dry surface, and have higher acidity (e.g., bright, lively) with a toasted grain taste.

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Medium High Roast

(Also called Regular Roast)

Medium roasts are generally sweeter than light roasts, and with more body and a more balanced acidity and aroma. The color is milk chocolate brown, and the bean’s surface is dry with some acidity (bright) though lacking the grain taste.

City Roast

(Also called Semi-Light)

Full Roasts

(Also called Viennese, Full City, High Roast)

Roasted several minutes longer until the coffee beans begin popping again—this is known as the “second crack” and denotes the full development of the coffee. The beans become slightly shiny as some traces of oil begin to rise to the surface, giving the beans a darker brown, satiny appearance.

The flavor of full roasts may be spicy and with a heavier body, less acidity, and perhaps a bittersweet tang. Subtle caramel to chocolate flavors may be present, with hints of smokiness. The roast flavor is evident.

Dark Roast

(Also called Double, French, Italian, Heavy, Espresso Roast)

The beans are roasted a few more minutes and begin to smoke.  At this time the bean sugars begin to carbonize, becoming pungent and taking on a dark brown chocolate color.

The beans appear very oily and will also have a shiny look in the cup.  The taste is smoky-sweet (perhaps with a burnt flavor) with very little acidity, noticeably bittersweet taste.

The body is light yet intense with the roast flavor completely dominating the beans’ origin flavors—the natural flavors produced by the soil and climate of the region where the coffee was grown, and the particular coffee plant variety.

A Dark French, Italian, or Heavy Roast will be almost black in color and soaked with oils, with a bittersweet taste and virtually no acidity.

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