Types of coffee roasting and what is the difference between them

How coffee beans are roasted. The main types of coffee roasting. Best Light, Medium and Dark coffee beans you can buy. Processes inside coffee beans during roasting.

Types of coffee roasting and what is the difference between them

How coffee beans are roasted. The main types of coffee roasting. Best Light, Medium and Dark coffee beans you can buy. Processes inside coffee beans during roasting.
AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE If you purchase items through our links we will earn a small commission (at no cost to you) that helps support this website. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate it!

How coffee beans
are roasted

Coffee beans are roasted in a specially designed roaster, which is a rotating drum that mixes the beans. In the process, the beans are heated to a desired temperature and cooled with cold air when they are finished. Types of coffee roasting are determined by the color of the beans, the time of roasting, and the temperature maintained during roasting. Roasting the beans is one of the most important processes on the long journey to a cup of coffee. Roasting is the craftsmanship that is responsible for the full expression of the flavor and aroma properties of coffee beans.

Types of coffee roast

The main types of coffee roasting

It is impossible to create a single roasting scale for coffee beans. Different beans roasted the same way have different tastes. As well as the same bean roasted in different ways. And tasters have individual tastes: "strong" and "weak" are different for each. The accepted classification is that dark glossy grains are French, Italian and Spanish roasts, while matte brown, amber or chocolate-tinged grains are weak and medium roasts.

The degree of roasting affects the taste, aroma and strength of the coffee, so it's important to know how to choose the roast that suits you best. Let's try to understand the characteristics of each roast for each coffee bean.

Light and Medium roasted coffee

Approximate roasting temperature
383°F - 428°F / 195 °С - 220°С
Lightly roasted coffee is characterized by a distinct sourness, goes well with milk. The beans are light brown in color, this roasting technology is suitable for mild coffee, allowing a full display of delicate aroma and multifaceted flavor.
Light roasts include: Cinnamon (Scandinavian), New England, American, Blonde and City.

Cinnamon roast
Ready cinnamon roast coffee has a subtle aroma and incomplete body of flavor. It is not strong and has a pale brown color.
This method of roasting coffee beans is suitable for high-mountain Arabica varieties from Jamaica and Kenya and Nicaragua.
When roasted, the beans begin to exude a sour, yeasty aroma which is reminiscent of freshly baked bread.
New England roast
The coffee bean begins to release aromatic oils more strongly. The release of saccharides and starches causes the beans to darken.

Espresso from New England roasted beans has a brighter aroma and flavor, but still without enough expression. The color of the finished coffee is light brown.

American roast
American roasted coffee beans have a mottled red color due to the cracks that have formed. The coffee beverage has a noticeable sourness and a bright, sweet aroma.

Usually this roasting method is used for inexpensive sorts of coffee beans. American-style roasting is suitable for coffee made in a French-press or in Turkish pot.
City roast
When roasting City Roast, the beans acquire nutty notes, which gives them the familiar "coffee aroma. Droplets of essential oil appear on the beans and sugar is released.

Coffee looks glossy and its color is brown. The taste of the drink becomes sweet with a bright caramel flavor.
In addition to the Turkish Pot and French press, city roasted beans are suitable for the coffee machine.

Best Light roast whole bean coffee

More products

Medium Dark roasted coffee

Approximate roasting temperature
437°F - 446°F / 225°С - 230°С
Medium roasted coffee is a traditional roasting method with a darker color and a dry, oily surface. The beverage has a bright sour-sweet aroma, more intense than a mild roast. Medium roasts include Full City Roast and Vienna Roast.
Full City roast
The beans take on a dark color and a light smoke due to the combustion of essential oils. Full City roasted coffee has a slight bitterness along with sour and chocolate notes. It is most often used for coffee machines.
Vienna roast
The Vienna roast results in a dark brown color, with a buttery, glossy surface. The espresso has a characteristic coffee bitterness, a full-bodied and strong taste. The sourness disappears and the sweet caramel taste is clearly visible.

Best Medium Dark roast whole bean coffee

More products

Dark - Very Dark roasted coffee

Approximate roasting temperature
464°F - 482°F / 240°С - 250°С
DARK roasted - grains of dark brown color with faint traces of oiliness. The taste is less sour than the previous options. This method actively releases essential oils, which contributes to a brighter and richer flavor, revealing most fully. The brewed beverage turns out dark.

VERY DARK roasted - the highest degree of roasting is characteristic of many European coffee styles. The beans are dark brown, almost black, and oily. The taste has a distinct bitterness and a pleasant "roasted" aftertaste, it goes perfectly with cream, but it is also popular as a pure black afternoon coffee. The highest roasted coffees are the Italian and Spanish Roast.

French roast
The French roast is one of the most popular roasts for espresso.
The coffee beans take on an even darker brown hue with cracks on the surface. The coffee is thick and strong. The flavor has burnt caramel notes and a strong aroma.
Italian roast
Very dark brown color, the grains are covered with oil. Roast is similar to the French roast, only with a more pronounced flavor. A common roast for espresso.
Spanish roast
The appearance of the coffee bean is a greasy glossy surface, almost black in color. The bean becomes very brittle and fragile.
A Spanish roasted espresso has a spicy flavor, and is dense and strong.
This is one of the most complicated types of roast, not suitable for all coffees, as some roasts simply burn to ash.
Because of its specific flavor, Spanish roasted beans are rarely sold in their pure form, but rather are used to make blends.

Best Dark roast whole bean coffee

More products

Сoffee roasting stages

Each type of coffee is unique and requires an individual approach. Different beans react differently to the roasting process, requiring different temperatures and cycle times. Only the skill of an experienced roaster allows you to extract the fullness and uniqueness of taste and aroma from each type of coffee.

Processes inside coffee beans during the roasting

The following processes occur when coffee beans are subjected to high temperatures:
Moisture is lost and the coffee bean becomes larger
by 30-40%
The grains become darker in color. This is due to a complex chemical reaction during which sucrose is caramelized.
Roasting coffee gives a wonderful aroma: light and unobtrusive when roasted lightly, and richer, deeper, smoky when deeply roasted.
The whole structure of the grains changes, essential oils come out.
During roasting, the first few minutes the grains remain light yellowish and have a "grassy" smell, then a smoke with a more aromatic smell appears and soon the "first crack" is heard, a distinct sound signaling the stage of roasting. After this, the sugars contained in the grains begin to actively caramelize, and the essential oils gradually come out. The grains increase in size and become darker. At this point there is usually a "second crack", the color of the grains becomes even darker, and the smoke is thick and acrid - at this stage the sugars are completely burnt.
Generally, lighter roasted coffee beans have a harsher flavor and more acidity than dark roasted ones (due to the appearance of oxides, which break down as the temperature increases). Darker roasts have a fuller flavor and contain less caffeine. However, over-roasted beans have a burnt, charcoal flavor.
One must not forget that different varieties have different tastes even if they are roasted to the same degree, because the taste and aroma of the coffee beans depends not only on roasting, but also on the variety of coffee.

Video about coffee roasting

What makes a cup of coffee good? Andy explores the world of coffee roasting and learns the fine art from Dunn Brothers Master Roaster Bob and samples roasts of several varieties to determine what difference it makes to the taste of the coffee. Special thanks to Dunn Brothers and Cafe Imports for help filming these segments!

How To Roast Coffee The Right Way

We love roasting coffee and if you want to learn how we get the most amazing flavours out of these green coffee beans, enjoy this video we made just for you. This is a behind the scenes look at our coffee roasting process. The main points are: - Heat up to the desired temperature before dropping the beans - Charge Temperature 180°C - Heat through the drying phase quickly without overheating (tipping or scorching) the beans. - Slow down during the browning phase for these Brazilian beans to develop the sweetness and chocolatey flavours of the beans. - Reach the first crack, and as soon as the cracks stop (more than 8 seconds) we drop them into the cooling tray.

Street Roasted Coffee!
The best COFFEE EXPERIENCE in Saigon

NAME: Cafe Ba Lù, ADDRESS: 193 Phùng Hưng Street, ward 14, district 5 HOURS: 6AM - 4PM PER CUP: 10,000 dong/ $0.50
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the healthiest coffee roast?

Fans of good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are interested in what degree of roasting coffee is healthier for the body. American scientists conducted studies on the Arabica variety, and here are the results they obtained.
The light and medium roasting degrees are considered more useful, because they do not have time to evaporate water and essential oils, which in turn are rich in antioxidants. Also under the influence of high temperature does not have time to destroy useful substances. Light roasted coffee protects against inflammation and cell damage.

Is a dark roast coffee stronger?
Which coffee roast has more caffeine?

Frequently Asked Questions
One of the most common misconceptions among coffee drinkers is that strongly roasted coffee has the strongest effect on the body. This myth is largely due to the bright bitterness of the beverage. Experts warn: this is not true.

The "blacker" the grain, the less caffeine it contains (it is destroyed). This is why whoever wants to get maximum vitality and benefits from his drink, should brew it with beans of the weakest roasting, which assumes processing at the temperature of 210 degrees. This treatment leaves the drink with its "natural" taste, allowing it to retain all the special nuances inherent in a particular kind of grain.

What is the best roast for coffee?

Frequently Asked Questions
Light roast retains all floral, fruity aromas and flavors, brings the acidity of the drink to the fore. If you want to fully experience the beauty of some beans, choose them in a light roast. But it is the most demanding, it is very easy to spoil the grains, and this will be felt in the finished product.

Medium roast is the golden mean. It retains a balanced taste, suitable for those who like "middle" combinations.

Dark roast emphasizes the bitterness of the coffee. Hides the original grain imperfections. But this is often used by unscrupulous manufacturers who purchase a batch of low-grade raw materials and try to "bring it to its condition" by using very dark roasting.

What is the most popular coffee roast?

Frequently Asked Questions
The most popular roasts are Medium Dark and Dark. The main reason: Light roasted beans are not suitable for the most "popular" kind of coffee - espresso. Because of its characteristic dim aroma, it is suitable only for Americano, cappuccino, latte, and other "weak" coffee drinks.
By the way, the "strength" of coffee, or its caffeine content, is mostly determined not by the degree of roasting, but by the quantity of substances in a cup of water. So you can make a "killing" awakening drink from beans of any roast - the main thing is the ratio of coffee to water.

Frequently Asked Questions

What roast coffee does Starbucks use?

For the drip coffee their standard fair is Pike Place, which is a medium roast (thought it is roasted closer to the dark end of the spectrum). As far as their espresso based beverages, they use their Espresso roast which, like most have stated, a medium/dark espresso blend with a deep flavor and notes of caramelized sugar.
  • Dmitry Harper
    Content creating

Related articles

Coffee style clothing, gifts for baristas and coffee lovers
Coffee style clothing, gifts for baristas and coffee lovers
Coffee style clothing, gifts for baristas and coffee lovers
Best coffee for espresso

Pictures with coffee roasting