Which roast should I choose for my coffee?
Roasting coffee is as much an art as it is a science. Many variables come into play when attempting to create the perfect roast profile. The biggest factor is personal preference. Some people enjoy the intense floral and citrus flavors of a light roast, while others prefer the balanced and bold, chocolatey-darkness of a darkly roasted coffee.
During the roasting process, a talented roaster will be juggling many variables at once, such as the moisture content of the coffee bean, temperature, audible clues, airflow, drum speed, coloration and cooling time, just to name a few. The roastmaster must consider each variable to get the desired taste they are aiming for. Throughout the process, the caramelization of sugars brings forth the aromatic goodness we all are familiar with. So how do you choose which roast is right for you?
First you must understand how to exactly define certain flavor aspects when drinking coffee. There are four specific characteristics to familiarize yourself with.
- Aroma: The smell of the coffee. This is a very important factor influencing how you perceive the taste of coffee.
- Acidity: We often associate this with bad or sour flavors, but in the coffee world it takes on a different meaning. There are over 20 different acids within coffee, each giving off different flavors, including floral, lemony, sour or bitter. When a coffee has high acidity, it is referring to the sharpness or liveliness of the coffee. Coffee is actually “neutral” in acidity, so this term refers to taste alone.
- Body: The body of coffee refers to the physical properties, or feeling of coffee in the mouth. You may hear this be described as light, heavy or smooth.
- Flavor: This describes the taste of the coffee. Some coffee flavors will be more obvious than others. Some examples might be spicy, sweet, floral or fruity. You will also find more specific descriptors like berry, citrus and nutty flavors. The flavors are endless, depending on the region the coffee comes from, the harvesting process, roasting and brewing methods!
Now, on to choosing your roast!
- Light Roast: Characterized by its light brown color, a lightly roasted coffee will have high acidity and the lowest amount of bitterness. You will experience floral or earthy notes. Contrary to popular belief, the lighter the coffee is roasted, the more caffeine that remains in your cup. Many believe that a darker, “stronger” coffee has more caffeine but you lose a significant amount of caffeine the longer the beans remain in the roaster. Also known as Half City, Light City, New England, or Cinnamon roasts. While we're not yet offering this roast, we hope to be able to soon.
- Medium Roast: A medium roast balances acidity, aroma and body in your cup. The brightness of the coffee is coupled with the body that comes forward throughout the roasting process. This is the most popular roast profile among coffee drinkers. Also known as: Full City, Breakfast, Regular, or American roasts.
- Dark Roast- Dark brown in color, a dark roast will have the coffee oil present on the surface. Chocolatey, smokey and sometimes bitter flavors come forward the darker the roast. Dark roasts are also characterized by having little acidity. The amount of coffee in a dark roast will be significantly less than lighter roasts. Also known as: Continental, French, Italian, or Espresso roasts.
Now that you are more familiar with coffee tasting and roasting, which is your favorite?