Coffee roast levels: the characteristics and differences
Many factors influence the taste of your favorite caffeinated beverages: the beans used, preparation, and roast of coffee. Fresh from the tree, beans vary. Light green shades come from South America; better for lighter levels. More dense, dark greens are commonly found in Indonesia. African beans, most often from Ethiopia, are browner and a bit colorful, also dense like in southeast Asia. Before beginning, coffee must also dry without defect or else impact the final product.
The first and second crack benchmark duration, as explained in our latest blog post about coffee roasting process. The three general types of coffee roasts are light, medium, and dark.
Light coffee roasts
Light coffee roasts cool during the first crack to produce ‘blond’ beans. All oils remain inside, creating a highly acidic, grain-like flavor with a fruity smell. Because of their strength, lightest versions are less common, such as the cinnamon roast. Named after their color, beans cool from the beginning of the first crack. More commonly, the city, or New England roast is normally used for cupping because of its strong but unroasted quality. This level is the earliest that common coffee drinkers will recognize that familiar and comforting coffee smell.
After the first crack, but before the second, medium roasts are sometimes called full city. Oils remain in the bean or just barely appear on its surface, so the flavor is balanced with an emerging sweetness.
After the second crack, coffee is typified as dark. Oils come out of the shiny, dark beans with the fewest tangs of their original flavor. The longer beans are cooked, the final products conform to the same characteristics: bold, bittersweet, and less acidic. For example, the common Vienna Roast is cooled from the middle of the second crack. Its richness is commonly used in espresso. French Roasts, cooled at the end of the second crack, taste similar despite a plant’s original characteristics. Italian or Spanish roasts cool beans only after the second crack.
The main differences between coffee roast levels of light, medium, and dark lay mainly in acidic balance and sweetness. The higher, the more balanced and sweet. The lower, the more the original, unique flavor of the bean is preserved. Today, variations are constantly being experimented with as roasters coffee technology.