The 3 Main Coffee Bean Roasts And Their Differences

Mmm Roasted Coffee Beans

When we talk about coffee one of the most important things we use to describe a cup is its roast. The amount of time a coffee bean is roasted affects its taste and the taste of the resulting coffee made from it. When it comes to beans there are three main roasts. Light, medium, and dark pretty simple right?

First things first, it’s important to know what cracking is, as it will be referred to later, During roasting the coffee bean expands. Moisture has been evaporating from the bean and once all is gone you can hear an audible crack from it. This ‘first crack’ as it is often referred to marks the start of the light roast stage. If you continue to roast the beans you eventually hear a second crack that signals the start of the dark roasting.

Light Roast:

A light roast is cooked for the least amount of time at the lowest temperature typically ranging from 196 °C to 205 °C (385 °F – 401 °F). The resulting bean is light brown in color, factoring into the name. Because it isn’t cooked as long the bean still retains much of its caffeine and more of the natural raw bean taste. This roast is most acidic in taste in comparison to the other two and has no sweetness to it. You know the bean is properly cooked when you hear the ‘first crack’.

Medium Roast:

A medium roast is commonly cooked at a higher temperature compared to a light roast. Varying from 225 °C to 245 °C (437 °F – 473 °F) a medium roast is so named due to its medium brown finish. Due to a longer roasting time the beans are no longer as acidic as the light roast though some of that raw bean taste remains. It’s at this stage that the coffee bean becomes a little sweeter; Though to some this may be hard to tell.

Dark Roast:

A dark roast is cooked at the highest temperatures. Roasted from 225 °C to 245 °C (437 °F – 473 °F) a ‘second crack’ is the starting sign for this cooking period. Due to how long the bean has been in the oven it has become much darker in color. There is little acidity left to it at this point, if any is detectable at all, and that raw bean taste is gone as well. What’s left is sweet and caramel in flavor. Dark roasts have more oil to them due to the long cooking process. If cooked for too long none of the coffee aroma or flavor will be left. Should one continue the roasting process too long after the dark roast stage the bean will eventually be carbonized and combust.

And Finally!

So basically the three main roasts stages are named after the color of the bean once it has been cooked for a set amount of time. The time will also affect the taste and acidity of the bean as a whole. Which roast is your favorite? Have you tried all three? Comment below as I’d love to hear your opinion on them! 🙂