Coffee Roast Levels

Coffee is a curious subject. Nerds like me throw terms around like these but what do they all mean? No, it’s not some complicated language but nothing more than a way to describe the darkness of the coffee roast. Each roast level brings out unique characteristics in the beans that are roasted. Here are the characteristics from a high level to help you understand what it’s all about…

Basic Roasts

Light Roast: no surface oil, citrus notes, fruity flavors, acidic profile.

Medium Roast: smoother surface, slightly sweeter, balanced flavor and acidity.

Dark Roast: hints of chocolate, bold, bitter, intense flavor and aroma.

So you can see the flavor can change dramatically between roasts. When you get past French roast (very dark, oily beans), the coffee can burn. Most people don’t like that type of uber bold flavor. After this, the beans will catch fire in the roaster. Not a good thing, of course. Well, unless you like the taste of charcoal. 

Most of the coffee you buy in the grocery store is medium roast. We suggest you try light, medium and dark to see what you like best and not rely on what you can find in the grocery store. On that note, it’s important to realize that ground coffee in the store is, for the most part, very stale and has lost much flavor. Which is why we believe:

Fresh coffee tastes best! 


The image below shows (from left to right): Raw coffee beans, light roast, medium roast, dark roast, French roast. Yes, raw coffee beans are green, or even sometimes brown, in color. They are very hard. Which leads me to an interesting fact:

Coffee beans aren’t really beans. They are the pit of a cherry. Yes, a cherry. Here’s what they look like when they are picked off the tree: