A Guide to Coffee Roasts

A Guide to Coffee Roasts

Coffee Roast Guide

Coffee Roasting is a heat process that turns coffee beans into the fragrant, dark brown coffee that we know and love.

Why roast?

Roasting coffee beans brings out the aroma and flavor that is locked inside the green coffee beans. Unroasted Coffee beans are stored green, a state in which they can be kept without loss of quality or taste.  A green bean has none of the characteristics of a roasted bean -- it is soft and spongy to the bite and smells grassy. 

Roasting causes chemical changes to take place as the coffee beans are rapidly brought to very high temperatures. The first step in this process is called the first crack. Depending on the roasted coffee desired, the time and temperature will change with each roast.  Coffee that is Dark Roast will require a higher temperature and more time.  Each roast level is different depending on if you want a dark, medium- dark, medium, medium-light or light roast coffee.  When the coffee bean reaches the peak of perfection, the coffee beans are quickly cooled to stop the process. Roasted  the coffee smells like coffee, and weighs less because the moisture has been roasted out. They are crunchy to the bite, ready to be ground and brewed.


Roasters are artisans that need to keep track of the internal temperature and roast level as they Roast Coffee. Depending on the flavor profile they are trying to achieve 

Two main types of coffee, Arabica and Robusta will have different moisture contents that lead to differences in the roasted coffee process.  

Once roasted, however, they should be used as quickly as possible before the fresh roast flavor begins to diminish.

Roasting is both an art and a science

It takes years of training to become an expert roaster with the ability to “read” the beans and make decisions with split-second timing. The difference between perfectly roasted coffee and a ruined batch can be a matter of seconds.  Roasters need to identify when the first crack occurs and time the coffee if it is a light/medium roast level to cool it down before the second crack.  

While many coffee companies just dark roast all of their coffee, it takes a true artist to bring out the flavor potential of the coffee bean.  You can see the difference when you look at a Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee and see the consistency of the roast without any burnt marks. 

    Coffee Roast Levels

    Most roasters have specialized names for their favored roasts and there is very little industry standardization. This can cause some confusion when you’re buying, but in general, roasts fall into one of four color categories — light roast, medium roast, medium-dark roast and Dark Roast Coffee.  

    Many consumers assume that the strong, rich flavor of darker roasts indicates a higher level of caffeine, but the truth is that light there is no significant difference in caffeine content between roasts.

    The perfect Coffee Roasts are a personal choice that is sometimes influenced by national preference or geographic location. Within the four color categories, you are likely to find common roasts as listed below. It’s a good idea to ask before you buy. There can be a world of difference between roasts.

    Light Roasts

    Light brown in color, these coffee roasts are generally preferred for milder coffee varieties.
    There will be no oil on the surface of these beans because they are not roasted long enough for the oils to break through to the surface.

    Common names are • Light City • Half City • Cinnamon

    Light - Medium Roasts

    A light-medium coffee roast is a versatile and popular option that falls between the light and medium roast profiles. This roast level is characterized by a balanced combination of flavors, acidity, and body, making it appealing to a broad range of coffee drinkers.

    Common Names are Balanced Blend • Mild Roast • All-Day Roast • Morning Roast