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Coffee Beans

What do Coffee Roasts
Really Mean?

How your coffee is roasted will influence its taste and smell. However, with dozens of names in use to describe different roasts, it’s easy to get confused over what each one means. Understanding these names will show you what characteristics to expect from your coffee. It will also help you better understand the coffee you enjoy and discover new ones that you might also like.

Light Roasts

Light roasts are light brown with a matte finish. They also have no surface oil, as they haven’t been roasted long enough for it to break through. These roasts are somewhat smooth with visible dark lines and have been roasted up to the beginning of first crack.  First crack refers to the popping noise that occurs at around 205°C/401°F. As the heat increases, the bean expands. The increasing heat causes moisture in the bean to evaporate into steam. This creates pressure, forcing the bean to pop open. Light roasts typically have a delicate, acidic flavour, retaining more of a bean’s original flavour than dark roasts. Lightly roasted coffee can be clean, bright, and full of delicate floral and fruit notes with great acidity. They’ll have a lighter body. It’s in light roasts that the natural characteristics of the coffee can be tasted. However, while light roasts can reveal a coffee’s natural flavours, it can also result in “under-developed flavours” if not roasted sufficiently. Light roasts come with dozens of different names. Here are some of the most common ones. Light City/Half City: these are lighter than Medium City roasts.  Cinnamon: this refers to the colour of the beans and not the spice’s aroma or flavour.  Blond: as the word Cinnamon created confusion amongst customers, this term was popularised by Starbucks to reference the roasted bean’s colour.

Light Roasts

Medium Roasts

Having been roasted at a higher temperature for longer, medium roasts are darker than light roasts but still unlikely to have an oily surface. The bean have a smoother appearance to the lighter roasts. They have been roasted through first crack with time for more development to occur. At this stage, the bean will only display the signs that second crack is imminent. Here, the coffee’s natural qualities and brightness is complemented by a fuller body that’s introduced with roasting, creating a balance between acidity and body. This roast can bring together a balance of acidity, sweetness and body. The increased caramelisation of sugars results in deeper fruit flavours and can be chocolatey and nutty. Coffees on the medium side of light roast can show off the natural flavours and sweetness of the coffee, while avoiding under-developed flavours that can sometimes be found on the lighter side of roasting. ​ Common names for medium roasts can include: • American: this roast is traditionally associated with the USA. • Breakfast/After Dinner: while both are medium roasts, After Dinner is the darker of the two. • City+: this is slightly more developed than a City roast. • Full City: this is a medium-dark roast that has almost reached second crack.

Medium Roast