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February 03, 2023 4 min read

Have you ever wondered what all those different coffee roast levels mean? Ever been at a coffee shop and ordered the wrong one? Maybe you ordered a dark roast and it was way too bitter, or a light roast and it felt too weak? With so many different levels of roasts to choose from, the selection can be a little overwhelming.

This quick and easy guide will tell you everything you need to know about all those different levels and help you pick the perfect one for you flavor preferences!


The art and science of roasting coffee beans

The first thing we need to understand is that coffee roast levels are determined by the amount of time and temperature your beans have been exposed to while roasting. The longer you roast, the darker and more robust the flavor will be.

Roasting coffee truly is an an art form. Every good roaster has their own unique style and methods that they use to bring out the best in each bean.

But the basics of any roast begins with the beans being heated in a roaster or oven, starting off at a low temperature. As the beans heat up, they begin to lose moisture, expand in size, and go through a series of chemical reactions known as the Maillard Reaction. During this process, some of the natural sugars start to caramelize and create the complex flavors we all love about coffee.


Coffee roast levels - what they are and how they're achieved

Coffee roast levels are determined by a variety of factors such as the amount of time and heat used to in the roasting process.

Popular coffee roast levels range from mild-tasting light roasts to full, intense dark roasts. In between those two extremes lie medium roasts, which maintain hints of sweetness. Light roasts are all about stopping the roasting process early – basically, the beans are taken off the heat when they still look rather light in color. For darker roasts, it’s all about keeping them on the flame until they achieve an oilier texture and dark brown color.

Starting from lightest to darkest, the five main roast levels are:

-Light Roast

-Medium Light Roast

-Medium Roast

-Medium Dark Roast

-Dark Roast


So let's look at those different levels a bit closer:


Light coffee roasts

These are the lightest of all roasts. They're roasted for the shortest amount of time and are often very light in color, almost like a peanut butter hue. Light roasts will have a more mild flavor, bright acidity, and are usually quite light bodied. Since they aren't roasted for very long, more of the original flavors from the bean come through and some of the natural sweetness and aromatics are still present.

Shop our delicious light roasts!


Medium Light coffee roasts

These are one step up from the light roast - they’re roasted slightly longer and will have a darker color, as well as more body and flavors that are stronger than the light roast. The acidity will be more muted than the light roast and you’ll start to pick up some of the rich flavors from the roasting process.


Medium coffee roasts

Medium roasts are the level of roast most people are used to when it comes to purchasing their beans, as it's what most commercial shops offer. It’s a nice compromise between the light and medium dark roasts, offering a good balance of flavor and body.

If medium roasts are what you're after, you can shop ours here!


Medium Dark coffee roasts

These are darker than the medium roast, but still lighter than the dark roast. As you can expect, they have a fuller body and more intense flavor. Most of the sugars in the beans have been caramelized, so there’s a bit less sweetness, but still some acidity present.


Dark coffee roasts

The last level is the Dark Roast. This is what you'd expect when ordering an espresso or a French roast. The beans are roasted for the longest amount of time and have an oily surface from all that heat. Dark roasts tend to have a much bolder, robust flavor with smoky, spicy notes and less acidity.

For the smoothest dark roasts around, you're in the right place.  Shop our dark roasts here.

As any coffee enthusiast knows, each roast level has its own unique character — all it takes is a bit of experimentation, and before long you'll have your favorite go-to blend!


How to choose the right coffee roast level for your taste

When it comes to choosing a coffee roast level for your taste, there are multiple things to keep in mind.

If you like a bold flavor and more intense aroma, try a dark roast. These roasts have an oilier outer layer that adds more complexity to your cup of coffee.

If you prefer something lighter and sweeter, then opt for a light or medium roast. These usually have less oil on the surface and can bring out subtle citrus flavors in the beans.

You should also consider if you're looking for smooth body with mild acidity or a powerful mix of flavor with higher acidity? No matter what kind of flavor you’re looking for, make sure you choose high-quality beans that have been roasted fresh to get the best brew possible!

To wrap it up...

When it comes to coffee roasting, there are five main levels: light, medium-light, medium, medium-dark, and dark. Each roast level has its own unique qualities from mild aromas to intense flavors and body.

To find the right roast for you, consider your personal preferences as well as the flavor and aroma profile you're looking for. Keep in mind that it’s always important to use freshly roasted, high-quality beans (like ours) to get the best cup of coffee.

With a bit of experimentation, you’ll soon find the perfect roast for your discerning coffee palate!

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