Coffee Drinkers: Choose Your Roast

Coffee continues to grow in popularity and with the arrival of coffee chains popping up on every corner, coffee drinkers have a wide variety of roasts and flavors to choose from. The history of coffee is said to date back to Ethiopia, where a goat herder noticed his goats running with more energy, after eating berries from a particular tree. The goat herder discussed this with a monk from a nearby monastery. This particular monk chewed the beans from the same type of tree and soon noticed that he was able to pray longer through the dark nights without getting tired. Coffee then took an incredible journey across different continents and through time to become the addictive drink that is enjoyed today. Lets talk a bit about the types of coffee roasts now.

As any coffee fan can tell you, the taste of the coffee is all about the roasting process. Some varieties of coffee from different countries can taste different. The age of the coffee, the method of processing, the grind and the brewing process can all affect the taste of it. The most accepted way to describe coffee roast levels is the color of the roasted bean.

Roast levels can be subjective and can be affected by where you live. Coffee drinkers on the west coast of the United States seem to prefer a darker roast, while East Coasters like a lighter roast. Europeans tend to favor dark roasts for their coffee. Color combined with the temperature of the roast yields a particular shade of brown. Roasting coffee is a highly technical skill, where an absolute return instead of a ruined roast, could be a matter of seconds. Coffee is roasted until it gets bigger with size and “cracks.” The roast of the coffee bean depends on where the process is in regard to this first crack and the eventual second crack.

Light Roast

  • Reaches an internal temperature of 356 degrees to 401 degrees Fahrenheit
  • This type is not roasted past the first crack
  • May have a grainy taste
  • Keeps most of the caffeine
  • “Light City,” “Half City” and “Cinnamon” roasted to just before first crack
  • “New England” roasted to first crack of the coffee bean

Medium Roast

  • Reaches an internal temperature between 410-428 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Roasted between the end of the first crack to just before beginning of second crack
  • More full flavor and aroma
  • More caffeine than dark roast
  • “Regular America” roasted to end of first crack

Medium Dark Roast

  • Reaches an internal temperature of 437-446 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Beans are roasted to the beginning or middle of the second crack.
  • Richer darker color
  • Dark body and some oil
  • “Full City” roasted to beginning of the second crack
  • “After Dinner” and “Vienna” roasted to a middle of the second crack.

Dark Roast

  • Reaches an internal temperature of 464-482 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Brown almost chocolate color
  • Original flavor of bean changed completely by roasting
  • Much less caffeine
  • “French, Italian, Continental, New Orleans and Spanish” roasted to end of second crack

Main Differences in Roasts

  • The more coffee beans are roasted, the less they retain their original flavor
  • As roasts get darker, the body of the coffee gets heavier
  • If coffee beans are roasted beyond the second crack, the end product is thin and bitter
  • More acidity is found in lighter roasts
  • The most caffeine is found in lighter roasts

So, whether you like your coffee roast dark or very light, there are many varieties of each to choose from. Roasting coffee is a delicate, precise operation but the end results are what coffee drinkers all over the world crave daily.

What to Consider When Choosing:

  • The darker the roast, the more pronounced the burnt flavor
  • Layers of taste are added with each roast type
  • Light roasts bring out the original flavor of coffee
  • Light to Medium roasts can have floral or citrus notes
  • Medium roasting begins caramelization
  • Coffees like Columbian can be bold and Sumatran can be earthy mossy
  • Dark roast is more of a chocolate taste

Characteristics of Coffee

Aroma-unique smell after grinding and brewing. Can have citrus, herbal or floral.

Acidity-Level of tangy flavor (liveliness). Different soil and climate can affect acid in beans

Body-how thick the coffee tastes in your mouth. Can range from light (delicate body) to medium (balanced) or dark (full body)

Roast-Light to Dark This is not a standard throughout the industry; each company has different ranges

So, whether you like your coffee roast dark or very light, there are many varieties of each to choose from. Roasting coffee is a delicate, precise operation but the end results are what coffee drinkers all over the world crave daily.

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