Last Updated on November 19, 2021 by brewthatcoffee
Wondering about the different types of coffee roasts? First, let’s talk about what coffee roasting is, and why we do it.
Coffee roasting is the process of treating coffee seeds (green coffee) by heating them until they are roasted. The roasting process causes chemical changes to take place in the seed, which results in the seed changing color, developing a smokey taste and aroma, and losing weight.
The degree to which green coffee beans are roasted affects the flavor and body of the resulting roasted coffee. Unroasted (green) coffee contains an abundance of naturally occurring carbon dioxide gas cells, which cause the green beans to puff up when roasted.
The degree of roast has an effect on flavor and body because at different temperatures chemical changes take place in the seed. The roast has a direct effect on weight loss, which in turn affects the appearance of the coffee.
Roast is traditionally described using four groups-light, medium, medium-dark, and dark roast.
Types of Coffee Roasts
Here are the four main types of coffee roasts you need to know, along with their alternative names.
A light roast coffee bean is light brown in color and doesn’t have any oil on its surface. The acidity in this roast is more pronounced than in the others.
For those of you who love caffeine, you should know that light roasts contain the highest amount of caffeine of all the roasts.
Cinnamon roast typically refers to coffee beans that were removed from the heat soon after the first crack. Although it sounds like a flavored coffee, there is no flavor of cinnamon to this roast. The color just happens to be a light cinnamon shade.
Roasting temperature: 196 degrees celsius
New England Roast
The New England roast goes slightly further in the roasting process than the cinnamon, resulting in a color that is barely darker.
Roasting temperature: 205 degrees celsius
Other common names of light roasts: light city, half city, white coffee
A medium roast bean has a medium brown color and tastes a little sweet compared to light roasts. The flavor is more balanced as the bean has lost some acidic flavors. In trade, it has gained more smokiness and aroma.
Many will argue that medium roast is the most flavorful of all the coffee roasts. It has a lovely in-between flavor that isn’t too acidic and isn’t too bitter either.
Some consider the American roast to be a light roast, while others will say it’s medium. This should clue you into this roast being an in-between light-medium type.
Roasting temperature: 210 degrees celsius
A city roast is closer to what you would expect a medium roast to taste like. It is a medium brown color with pronounced acidic flavors. Some describe this kind of coffee as ‘bright’.
Other common names of medium roasts: regular roast, breakfast roast
A medium roast bean has a richer brown color than a medium roast. Bittersweet flavors start the emerge and acidity is completely removed.
Full City Roast
Full city roast beans are on the verge of hitting the second crack. If you want to take things a stepper further, opt for a full city plus roast, which ventures into the dark roast territory.
Roasting temperature: 225 degrees celsius
Other common names of medium-dark roasts: after dinner roast, light espresso, light French
A dark roast bean has an oilier appearance due to the oils that have come to the surface of the bean during roasting. Instead of having an acidic flavor like light roasts, it has a bitter taste instead. At this point, the original flavors from the bean’s raw state have been removed.
The Vienna roast is where the quintessential dark roast flavors like chocolate and smoke start to come into play. It is also where coffee beans start to lose a lot of their original tasting notes. Vienna roast goes past the second crack, halfway to the third.
Roasting temperature: 230 degrees celsius
More of those chocolatey and smokey flavors come to life in the French roast. French roasted coffee beans are known as double roasted.
Roasting temperature: 240 degrees celsius
You can expect more of a burnt taste from an Italian roast. It will be rather dark in color and will have almost zero flavors in common with its original raw bean.
Roasting temperature: 245 degrees celsius
Other common names of dark roasts: full city +, Spanish roast, New Orleans roast, Continental roast, Neopolitan, European, and espresso roast.
Now that you know what the roasts are, how about learning some brewing methods?
What Does Coffee Look Like Before Roasting?
Green coffee beans
Green coffee beans are coffee beans that are in a raw state, or unroasted. They have a much different texture and look than roasted beans. Roasting is the process of heating coffee beans to a very high temperature which turns them from green to brown in color. It also changes the flavor and smell of the green coffee bean. When you brew coffee, you are extracting the flavors and oils from the roasted beans to create your beverage.
Why don’t we just drink unroasted coffee beans?
Unroasted coffee beans have a very hard exterior and do not taste good at all. They don’t taste much like coffee and can even be considered bitter or chalky tasting.
How hard is it to roast your own beans?
Roasting coffee beans is easy enough to try, however, it takes years of practice to become skilled at. Since the beans can be a bit finicky about temperature, just a matter of seconds can make the difference between a good and bad batch.
Still, many people find roasting their own beans to be very satisfying. By roasting your own coffee, you gain complete control of the turnout. You can even save some money doing it since raw coffee beans cost less than roasted beans.
Coffee Roasts Chart
This chart will give you an idea of the types of coffee roasts, and how far along each one is in the cooking process.
The Phases of Coffee Roasting
The phases of coffee roasting vary a bit, depending on factors such as altitude, room temperature, and type of coffee bean.
Generally, you can expect an endothermic phase, an exothermic phase (leads to the first crack), a second endothermic phase (leads to the second crack), and this continues on with the coffee beans getting darker and darker.
Video: The Coffee Roasting Process Explained
Here is an informative video on the types of coffee roasts and how roasters make everything happen.
Well, that’s it! Those are all the types of coffee roasts you can expect in the coffee world. They are all delicious in their own way and it really takes a little experimentation to figure out what you like.
So don’t be shy, and get adventurous with your beans. If you are feeling a bit extra, you can start roasting coffee beans yourself. Who knows? Maybe your favorite roast is an unlabeled in-between roast you would have never otherwise tried.