Types of Coffee Roasts: What’s the Difference?

Which Coffee Roast Is Right For Me?

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Which coffee roasts are right for me?” Many people have a preference for a particular kind of coffee roast without even knowing or understanding why.

When you learn the differences between a dark, medium or light roast, you will be able to choose the perfect coffee roast for your palate, or even the time of day or occasion. Every type of coffee roast has its own flavour profile and nuances, and as curious coffee lovers being able to know and taste the difference will only enhance your appreciation of your daily brew.

Coffee roasting is hugely influential on the flavour profile of your coffee. Roasting changes not only the colour of the coffee bean–from green to light, medium or dark–but will also change some of the physical attributes. The intensity (how hot) and duration (how long) coffee beans are roasted plays a critical role in the strength and taste of a brew.

Light coffee roasts–are roasted for a shorter time and at a lower temperature and have a light brown colour. Light roast coffees are less bitter, sweeter, and can have a citrus aroma. 

Medium coffee roasts–have a more balanced flavour and less floral characteristics, with a thicker body while still carrying complex brighter notes. They have a mid-brown appearance. 

Dark coffee roasts–have a full bodied and robust roast with a very dark brown or even black appearance. Dark roasts carry a more pronounced bitterness with an aroma reminiscent of nuts or chocolate.

Some Fun Facts About Coffee Roasting

  • Lighter roasts may contain greater levels of caffeine because the longer the roast time, the more caffeine is cooked out of the bean.
  • Coffee beans ‘pop’ as they roast. Typically, the first pop or ‘crack’ happens at about 350 degrees, signalling a ‘light’ roast.
  • Darker roasts often have a smoky flavour that comes from the release of the oils on the bean’s surface. This is a high heat roast (above 465 degrees).
  • The perfect roast is done slowly and methodically. Too fast roasting risks burning the beans and will not achieve the same smooth flavour results. Roasting periods may be from 10 minutes to several hours or even days.
  • Uniformity in bean size is important as smaller beans will roast faster than larger ones, altering the overall flavour profile. 
  • Some varieties of beans are better suited to particular types of roasts. Arabica beans, such as the ones grown at Glasshouse Plantation, can be light, medium or dark roasted with each version creating a unique tasting coffee.
  • Different roasts may be suitable for your preferred way of preparing coffee. For example, a light roast is better for filter coffee, a dark roast is preferable for an espresso. 

Glasshouse Plantation Coffee

Our Coffee Tasting Boards are a terrific way to taste different types of coffee roasts and identify the flavours you enjoy the most. Perhaps the coffee roast that is right for you will vary! A medium roast in the morning, a lighter roast with a meal or dessert, and a dark roast after dinner. Know your coffee and know your coffee roast.