How dark should you go? This is Coffeelink's guide to coffee roasts from light to dark.
The way coffee beans are roasted is one of the most important parts to determine the taste of the coffee in your cup. Before roasting, green coffee beans are soft, with a fresh “grassy” smell and little or no taste. The coffee roasting process transforms these raw beans into the distinctively aromatic, flavourful, crunchy beans that can change your day.
The most common way to describe coffee roast levels is by the colour of the roasted beans, ranging from light to dark. As coffee beans absorb heat in the roasting process, their colour becomes darker. Oils appear on the surface of the beans at higher temperatures. Because coffee beans vary, colour is not an especially accurate way of judging a roast.
Roast level preferences are subjective to the Master roaster. Continental Europe have favour dark roasts, lending their names to the so-called French, Italian, and Spanish roasts that dominate the darker end of the roasting end.
In general, though, we can categorise the most common coffee roasts from light to dark as follows:
Light roasted beans generally reach an internal temperature of 180°C – 205°C (356°F – 401°F). At or around 205°C, the beans pop or crack and expand in size. This is known as the “first crack”. So a light roast generally means a coffee that has not been roasted beyond the first crack.
Medium roasts reach internal temperatures between 210°C (410°F) and 220°C (428°F) — between the end of the first crack and just before the beginning of the second crack.
The beans are roasted to the beginning or middle of the second crack — about 225°C (437°F) or 230°C (446°F). The flavors and aromas of the roasting process become noticeable, and the taste of the coffee may be somewhat spicy.
To reach the level of a dark roast, coffee beans are roasted to an internal temperature of 240°C (464°F) — about the end of the second crack — or beyond. They are seldom roasted to a temperature exceeding 250°C (482°F), at which point the body of the beans is thin and the taste is characterised by flavours of tar and charcoal.
Here is a short guide to the main coffee roasts from light to dark. To summarise the differences, in addition to the colour changes:
- As coffee roasts get darker, they lose the origin flavors of the beans and take on more flavor from the roasting process.
- The body of the coffee gets heavier, until the second crack, where the body again thins.
- Lighter roasts have more acidity than darker roasts.
- Light roasted beans are dry, while darker roasts develop oil on the bean surface.
- The caffeine level decreases as the roast gets darker.
We prefer to keep the natural sugars in the coffee and ultimately in your cup. However,it’s all about the taste, the flavour, the aroma. We stock different roast profiles purely to reflect our customers varied taste palates. You may prefer a lighter roast in the morning (with more caffeine) and a darker one later in the day. Coffee, including the optimal roast level, is a personal preference. How would you like yours? Please let us know.