Different Types of Coffee Roasts explained

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 3rd, 2022

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed at the grocery store coffee aisle, you’re not alone. City, French, Viennese, Cinnamon – there are hundreds of coffee variations and nearly as many roasts!

Though the bean is important, the roasting process contributes significantly to the scent and flavor of the coffee. The time of the roasting process can impact various factors, including the body, acidity, and flavor of your savory beans. We’ve put up this helpful reference to the four primary varieties of coffee roasts to help you broaden your coffee expertise.

brown coffee beans

So, why roast?

Roasting releases the fragrance and taste that are contained inside green coffee beans. Beans are preserved in green form, which allows them to be stored without losing quality or taste. Green beans have none of the qualities of roasted beans; they are mushy and spongy to the biting and smell grassy.

Chemical changes occur as the beans are quickly heated to extremely high temperatures during roasting. When they reach the pinnacle of perfection, they are immediately cooled to bring the process to a halt. Roasted beans smell like coffee and weigh lighter since the moisture has been removed during the roasting process. They have a crisp bite to them and are ready to be ground and brewed.

However, once roasted, they should be utilized as soon as possible before the fresh roast flavor fades.

What happens during the roasting process?

The coffee bean is the seed that grows inside the coffee cherry. Coffee beans are green and have practically little scent until they are roasted, except an earthy, grassy odor. The roasting procedure is responsible for transforming coffee beans into the delightful cup of coffee you’re enjoying.

A coffee cherry’s interior

The roasting procedure darkens the color of the coffee beans and imparts chocolaty, caramelized tastes. Oils emerge on the surface of the beans at higher temperatures. The beans crack for the first time and begin to swell at 401°F. They crack a second time at about 437°F.

Coffee beans of high grade are never roasted over 482°F. They will thin out and have a burned flavor once they reach that temperature. You do not wish to consume charcoal!

In the coffee business, roast names and descriptions are not uniform, and roasting is both an art and a science. With so many options, choosing the appropriate bag of beans might be difficult. However, based on the color of the bean and how it tastes, you should be able to determine the roast level.

Roasting is an art as well as a science.

Years of training are required to become an excellent roaster who can “read” the beans and make split-second selections. The difference between a flawlessly roasted batch and a destroyed batch of coffee may be measured in seconds.

The Various Types of Coffee Roasts

light roast

Common names include New England, Half-City, and Cinnamon.

Light roasts have been roasted for the shortest length of time. After the first crack, lightly roasted beans should have an internal temperature of 356°F – 401°F. Because they haven’t been roasted at a high enough temperature, these beans don’t have the oils.

The longer a bean is roasted, the more caffeine and acidity it releases. As a result, light roasts have the most caffeine and the greatest acidity. Light roasts may have a distinct flavor because the quicker roasting prevents chemical changes inside the bean.

The origin tastes of the bean are more noticeable in light roasts since the roasting process flavors are frequently not dominant. Light roasts’ acidity is frequently accompanied by a citrus or lemon tone, which some people find appealing to the tongue.

medium roast

City, Regular, and American are some of the most common names.

Internal temperatures of medium roasted coffee range from 410°F to 428°F. This is soon after the first crack and before the second. They have a little more body and less acidity than a light roast.

The average American coffee user is accustomed to medium roasts. These roasts are said to have well-balanced tastes. A medium roast’s acidity and body might vary, although they are normally around the center. House mix, Breakfast roast, and American roast are all medium roasts.

medium to dark

Viennese, Continental, Full City, Light French, and Light Espresso are some of the most common names.

The internal temperature of medium-dark roasted beans is 437°F – 446°F. This occurs during or just after the second crack. Because the temperatures are high enough, the oils on the surface of the beans will begin to appear in this roast.

These roasts provide a richer, more full-flavored flavor, greater body, and less acidity. A medium-dark roast coffee mix includes the Vienna Roast and Full-City Roast.

dark roast

French, Espresso, Turkish, Italian, Dark French, and Heavy are among of the more common names.

A dark roast should be roasted at a temperature of 464°F – 482°F. Dark roast beans have visible oils. In most cases, you won’t be able to detect any origin tastes in a dark roast, only the effects of the roasting method on that type of coffee bean.

Because the sugars in the coffee beans have had time to caramelize, dark roasts provide sweeter tastes. The extra roasting time gives it a richer taste and fuller body, typically resulting in a buttery finish. They also have the least amount of acidity of any coffee roast.

Dark roasts have the least caffeine since they are roasted the longest. French roast is the darkest roast and has a strong smokey taste. The oils and sugars in coffee beans will burn if they are roasted for longer than a French roast (482°F). Because of the prevalence of dark roasts in Europe, such as Italian roasts, dark roasts sometimes acquire European names.

Double roast?

Double Roast (French, Spanish, and Turkish) roasts beans until they begin to smoke. As you might expect, the flavor is smokey or even burnt, with little indication of the beans’ natural flavor. There’s a trace of sweetness, but it’s lighter in the body than a medium-dark or dark roast.

It’s worth mentioning that French roast as a term of art and what you’ll find on the grocery shelf are normally two very different things (supermarket French roast is typically a darker roast, but not as dark as a true French roast). I wouldn’t consider this the main type, so we did not include it in the title!

Why so many Coffee Roasting Levels?!

When it comes to coffee roast name, there is very little consistency. If you go to the grocery store and pick up a light roast off the shelf, the beans will most likely be darker than those sold by most specialty coffee roasters.

The blackness of one roaster is the light of another. Yes, it may be perplexing.

Here’s what’s causing it…

Coffee bean quality is improving. Farmers are becoming more skilled, making it simpler to find coffee beans with extraordinary qualities.

Roasters are not required to mask off-flavors. Dark roasts are intended to disguise low-quality characteristics (such as leathery, musty overtones), but with coffee quality on the rise, it’s no longer essential.

Lighter roasts give richer tastes. Roasters are exploring new methods to accentuate distinctive, wild tastes in high-quality beans now that they can roast lighter without obtaining horrible flavors.

As a result, the scale from dark to medium to light may be moved to a brighter area while boosting flavor.

So, even though it’s perplexing, it’s a good thing… it implies that coffee is improving!

Which Coffee Roast Is the Most Flavorful?

The taste is perhaps the richest in the medium dark. The beans reach 450°F throughout the roasting process, resulting in a full-bodied taste profile. The acidity is substantially lower than in lighter varieties, and the coffee has a lovely bittersweet flavor. This is one of the reasons medium dark espresso is so popular.

However, if you enjoy experimenting with different flavors and aromas in your coffee, here is our selection of the finest flavored coffee.

Is it better to drink light or dark roast coffee?

Darker roasts, on average, are bitterer. However, roasting is not the only factor that influences bitterness. It is also influenced by the specific features of the soil in which the coffee is cultivated. Therefore the place from which it comes is essential.

Which one contains the most caffeine?

I was always told that dark roast coffee is “strong” and has the greatest caffeine. Mostly, this was just a lot of guesswork and disinformation.

In actuality, 50g of dark roast coffee has about the same amount of caffeine as 50g of light roast coffee. Measuring by weight (mass) will always give you roughly the same amount of caffeine, regardless of roast level.

This caffeine myth, on the other hand, has an understandable genesis.

Because light roast beans are denser than dark roast beans, each bean contains somewhat more caffeine. Because dark roasts are less thick, each bean has somewhat less caffeine.

Measuring by scoops (volume) does not account for the density of the beans; however, measuring by weight (mass) does, which is where this misconception originates. As a result, one scoop of light beans may have 70 mg of caffeine, but one scoop of dark beans may contain just 65 mg.

As can be seen, 5 scoops of light roast contain somewhat more caffeine than 5 scoops of dark roast. It has nothing to do with the roast level; it’s all in the measurements.


There you have it: the four primary varieties of coffee roasts and all you need to know about the roasting process. You’re ready to select a bag of beans, order a cup with confidence, or even try your hand at home coffee roasting! And if you’re tired of the same old roast, try something fresh. Believe us when we say you’ll be shocked by your taste differences.


Editorial Staff

Our writers, editors, content managers, and SEO specialist. We all take part in crafting amazing articles. We spend hours ensuring that each article is based on facts, researched, and thorough. You'll never want to click the back button to look for more answers other than here!