A Few Words on Roasting

Light Roast

(The First Crack) Better known as a light roast, first crack got its nickname because the beans are in the initial stage of cracking and expansion. In general, the beans look dry and pale and provide a light-bodied coffee. The taste shouldn’t reveal any traces of the roasting and is somewhat more acidic. This doesn’t mean that first crack provides an inferior flavor profile. Quite the contrary; the end result is a light, yet aromatic roast, with distinct fruity or even floral notes. With light roasts, the beans’ surface shouldn’t be oily. Otherwise, you are looking at a different type of roast. Color-wise, this roast is light brown and is typically used for mild coffee types. But remember, since it’s not roasted that long, first crack retains a lot of the original beans’ flavors. Coffee varieties that utilize light roast include Cinnamon, Half City, and City. Considering the roast type and the brew method are a must when buying coffee beans. We love light roast beans for pour over coffee. It’s a raw green bean… There’s nothing you can do with it. It’s only the roasting that puts the flavor into the coffee.

Medium Roast

Medium roast beans still look and feel dry, but there is a much sweeter profile. To be exact, the longer roasting brings more flavors to the beans and results in less acidity compared to the first crack variety. You get a fuller body, though the flavor profile tends to be more condensed. Don’t get things wrong, a condensed flavor profile is not a bad thing. Medium roasts work great for those whose palate craves for distinct bitterness. For many, this roast has the perfect balance of aroma, acidity, and flavors. In fact, this roast is the preferred type for most Americans and the varieties that utilize it include Breakfast, City, and, of course, the American. As for the looks, the beans are medium brown, they have a stronger smell, but there is still no oil on the surface. This roast is obtained at 428°F and the beans lose about 13% of their weight during the process. At the same time, pyrolysis (thermal decomposition as a result of roasting) affects the beans’ chemical composition and is partly responsible for the stronger flavor. 

Medium Dark Roast

Medium dark beans are characterized by a dark brown color and some oil on the surface. When it comes to the flavor profile, the extended roasting destroys all the acidity and allows most of the beans’ aromas to come up on the top. Overall, the flavors can be described as deep with a touch of bittersweet aftertaste. Some would argue that the medium dark body is heavy. However, it may give a wrong negative connotation to the rich, full profile of the medium dark roast. If you are wondering about coffee varieties, this roast type is used for Full City.

Dark Roast

Second crack or dark roast is something you can recognize from a mile away. The beans are black, shiny, and quite oily, which hints at their unique flavor profile. If you are in for pronounced bitterness, this roast type might be a perfect fit. On top of the bitterness, you can taste that second crack has been roasted well. The notes are thick and a bit spicy on the tongue. You can also feel traces of oiliness as the coffee flows down your throat. Generally, dark roasts are not acidic, and the rule of thumb is – the darker the beans, the less acidic they are. Darker roasts are used for coffee varieties such as New Orleans, Continental, European, Vietnamese, etc. It’s not uncommon to find French and espresso labeled as a dark roast. Be careful, though, as French might fall into the double roast category with almost charred beans. Also, espresso can be made from both dark and medium-dark roasts – it all depends on your taste. Coffee roasting has four or five stages. The beans are cleaned, roasted, cooled, and sometimes ground before packaging. If you happen to love dark roast coffee, here are some great tasting dark roasted coffees.