As a general rule, this is the way most coffee beans are categorized:
The Light Roasts
Most light roasts are created from about 7 or 8 minutes of roasting. These beans are a light caramel brown color and are considered the mildest coffee variety. Because they are heated the least, light roasts allow the beans’ natural characteristics to be the most evident. This also means that these roasts have the highest concentration of caffeine and acidity; they will also be the most aromatic. Most light roasted beans top out in temperature at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly less, and some do not even complete that “pop” of the beans before they are ready for coffee.
Common light roasts include:
• Light City
• Half City
• New England
The Medium Roasts
Somewhere between light and dark roasts lie the medium roasts. With a mid-brown color and a strong flavor, medium roasts are not oily, but they are aromatic. Because the beans have been roasted slightly longer than the light roast, falling between the first and seoncd “pops,” medium beans have a much more balanced flavor. The caffeine level has been slightly decreased with a medium roast, but it is still evident. This roasting level is the one most strongly favored by American coffee drinkers, although other areas of the world prefer darker options.
Common medium roasts include:
The Medium-Dark Roasts
Even more specific in color and taste are the medium-dark roasts. With a heavier body than medium roasts but more acidity than dark roasts, medium-dark roasts have noticeable aromas and a spicier taste.
Common medium-dark roasts include:
• Full City
• After dinner
The Dark Roasts
With around 12 to 13 minutes of roasting at up to 482 degrees Fahrenheit, dark beans are pulled from the roaster right at the end of the process. These beans are the deepest brown, and they frequently have a shiny, oily surface. Because they have roasted so much longer, dark roasts have less acidity, lending a sweet or almost chocolate flavor to these beans. There is the least amount of caffeine in these roasts as well.
Common dark roasts include:
• New Orleans
The Espresso Roasts
The darkest of all roasts, espresso beans occur after the dark roast beans have been pulled. Espresso roasts have the most sweetness in taste and aroma, while also providing some bitterness and acidity. More caramel in taste than chocolate, espresso beans are used for making espresso and cappuccino drinks.
Common espresso roasts include:
In the end, the question of which coffee roast is the best is really just a matter of taste.