Light to Dark: What to Expect From Each Coffee Roast

Coffee

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, then you probably have your go-to roast, but have you ever considered what factors actually affect your favorite cup of coffee? When it comes to flavor, there are so many factors at play including where the beans were grown, how long ago they were roasted, how you you brew it, and yes, what roast you choose! If you are trying to choose the right roast for you, or if you want to know more about your already favorite daily dose of caffeine, here is a general guide on what to expect from each coffee roast. 

The Myth About Coffee Roasts

One of the biggest misconceptions about coffee roasts is that you get higher amounts of caffeine the darker the roast gets. “Stronger coffee” does not equal  more energy, so if you don’t particularly like the extra dark roast, don’t think you need it for those all night study bingers or earlier than normal wake up calls. In fact, not only does dark roasted coffee not mean more caffeine, it actually means a little bit less. Coffee beans are roasted in extreme heat, and the longer the beans are exposed to the increasing temperature, the darker the roast is. The heat causes slight chemical changes to the beans including the color, acidity, and the caffeination. 

Picking Your Roast

There are four main coffee roast categories: light, medium, medium-dark, and dark. Most major coffee chains have their options narrowed down to a simple trifecta including light, medium, and dark. There is not a standardized naming system across the board, so different brands, shops, and chains typically customize their own names to a designated roast level. Choosing the best roast, or your personal favorite, is a completely subjective choice that is often shaped by location, culture, and specific taste aversions. The best (and funnest) way to find your favorite roast is with a trial and error taste test, but here are a few details about the most common roasts available. 

Light Roast – The lighter the roast, the more acidity in the flavor. This is also the roast that will allow you to differentiate between the coffee bean origin. Coffee beans from different areas will have distinctly different flavors, so because a lighter roast calls for the smallest amount of chemical change in the bean, you will be able to savor those different flavors. For instance, coffee beans originating from southeast Asia have a completely different natural taste than those grown in Columbia or central Africa. 

Medium Roast – Medium roast is incredibly popular as it maintains a lot of the natural flavor but has a smoother and fuller body taste than the light roast. This is the happy medium between the acidic light roast and bitter dark, most coffee drinkers are happy with a medium regardless of the roast they are most partial to. 

Dark Roast – Dark roast has a distinct bitter taste, and typically the roast flavor overshadows the natural coffee bean flavor. It often has a slightly oily sheen to it, compared to the dryer light roast options. Dark roast has the lowest amount of caffeine concentration, so it makes for a great after dinner coffee!

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