I've always considered myself a huge fan of coffee. I've been drinking it since I was a kid (sneaking sips from my Grandude's coveted cup), I've written papers and given presentations on its origins and I don't think there's a moment of the day when I don't have a cup in my hand (or at least near by). Honestly, my day scarcely begins without it, so it's safe to say I thought I knew a lot. Boy, was I wrong. Haha.
When we first began to tell folks we were starting a coffee company we were bombarded with questions, some of which I struggled to answer. This section will be me passing along what I've learned on my coffee journey starting with the 4 (Major) Types of Roasts.
When you're shopping for coffee, it can easily become overwhelming. To start, there are several types of beans and even more types of roasts, and although the bean itself certainly matters, most of the flavor and aroma that brings all that sensory delight we associate with coffee, comes from the roasting process. How and how long the bean is roasted can affect the color, body, acidity and flavor of your beans.
A light roast, such as our Damascus Road, is 'light'-ly roasted, meaning for the least amount of time and thus reaching the lowest internal temperature. Lightly roasted beans generally reach an internal temperature of 356°F – 401°F. Heat from the roasting process pulls out the naturally occurring caffeine and acidity, so since these beans are subject to the least amount of heat for the least amount of time, light roasts tend to have the highest caffeine content (by volume --more about this another day) and the most acidity.
Additionally, light roasts generally allow more of the bean's origin flavors to come through and often have a citrus or lemon undertone that some people really enjoy.
2. Medium Roast
Medium roasted coffee reaches internal temperatures of 410°F-428°F. They tend to have slightly more body than a light roast and less acidity.
These roasts, such as our organic medium roast - Redeemed, are considered to have balanced flavors. The acidity and body of a medium roast can vary but are usually somewhere in the middle. This is what the average American coffee drinker is used to. This is important. If you're very accustomed to a medium roast such as 'House blend' , 'Breakfast roast', or 'American Roast' anything other than a medium or medium-dark roast may taste bitter or burnt to you.
3. Medium-Dark Roast
Beans roasted to medium-dark reach an internal temperature of 437°F – 446°F. These roasts have a richer, fuller flavor, more body, and less acidity. Our best seller and personal favorite, Holy & Righteous, is a medium-dark roast. We thoroughly enjoy this black or with cream and sugar. It also is a wonderful neutral base if you like to add chocolate, a flavor shot or a flavored creamer.
4. Dark Roast
The roasting temperature for a dark roast is between 464°F – 482°F. Typically, you cannot taste any origin flavors in a dark roast, just the effects the roasting process has on that type of coffee bean.
These, like our 4 Horsemen, also tend to taste sweeter because the sugars in the coffee beans have had time to caramelize. The longer roasting process helps it to develop a richer flavor and fuller body, which often leads to it having a very smooth finish. Also, remember we learned that heat pulls out caffeine and acidity? Well, because these beans have been roasted the longest, they also have the least acidity of all coffee roasts AND the least amount of caffeine.
Anything roasted beyond, 482°F will cause the oils and sugars from the beans to burn, so no high quality bean is roasted beyond a French Roast (482°F).
Fun Fact: Dark roasts are the roast of choice in Europe and so these tend to have European names, ie. French or Italian.
In our journey to choosing the best beans and roast profiles, we've learned that not all roast names or descriptions are standardized across the industry but this is pretty close. Now we can usually tell the roast type by the color of the bean, the oils present on the surface and the taste! I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of the 4 Major Roast Types and that it helps to clarify any confusion you may have when choosing the roast that's best for you.