Coffee Bean Roasting

Tuesday 12 April 2022

All About Coffee Beans


Coffee Bean Roasting Levels: How to Find the Right One for You?

There are so many things that impact the flavor of a coffee. Other than the actual variety of coffee bean that you buy, perhaps the most important thing is how it is roasted.


If you taste test a lightly roasted coffee compared to a dark roast then you would tell a huge difference, not only in color but in the texture and of course the taste of the coffee.


In this guide, we’re exploring the different roasting levels and what they mean for the flavor. If you are roasting coffee yourself, either at home or in a commercial setting, then you can tweak the roast profile.


If you are simply buying coffee from the supermarket you should look out for details on the roast type. Some coffee brands use a grading system from 1-5. Usually, the higher the number, the darker the roast.

Coffee Beans 

Understanding Roasts

Coffee roasting is a complex art that can take many years to master. A lot of roasters will use the “first crack” as part of the way they judge the roast. This is when the coffee gets hot, the moisture evaporates and the bean cracks.


There are a few different levels of roasting, and it is a good idea to understand them before you try to work out which you like most.

Light Roasts

These are meant to help to keep the natural flavor and scent of the coffee. If you buy specialty coffee then it is likely that it is going to be on the lighter end of the spectrum. The beans will be ready not too long after “first crack” when they reach around 400 degrees F.


A light roast can give you a relatively light flavor and allows the natural taste of the coffee beans to shine through. If you’ve got a good quality coffee then the light roast could be your friend.

Medium Roast

Medium roasts as you might expect are a sort of middle ground. They can preserve some of the natural smells and taste but they also get a bit of a ‘caramelized’ taste to them and a darker roast that can cause some acidity to reduce.


They’re roasted to slightly higher temperatures, often up to about 430 degrees F.


They pass first crack but most roasters will not call it a medium roast if it has reached the second crack. There’s a little bit of oil that might start to be released. 

Coffee Beans

Dark Roast

You might expect that most coffees are in the middle ground with a medium roast, but actually dark roasts are very common, especially among cheaper coffee beans.


At this level a lot of the natural flavors of the beans start to disappear and they’re replaced with a much heavier profile with a dark oily look. They usually are past second-crack when they are finished.


A dark roast is used on cheaper beans for a few reasons, and it is often because the natural flavor disappears and you can replace it with the taste of the roast. At darker levels the acidity starts to disappear and the flavor becomes a little more generic.


If you ask a lot of coffee aficionados they will tell you to steer clear of dark roasts, but it is all about what you personally like.


Do Darker Roasts Mean More Caffeine?

There’s a bit of an urban myth that darker coffee has more caffeine. This isn’t the case.


In some scenarios, the lighter roasts have more caffeine in the end product, due to the density of the beans. Basically, darker roasted beans weigh less and they have a little bit less in terms of caffeine, but this really doesn’t make a huge difference.


Caffeine is more impacted by the preparation methods and the varieties of coffee that you buy.

Coffee Preparation

Exploring Your Favourite Roast Levels

Once you understand, this is the fun bit, you get to experiment.


When you are out at a coffee shop trying the drinks, it is worth talking to the baristas, who will often care a great deal. This may not work so well in a chain, but in specialty coffee shops you’ll often find people who are happy to chat.


By understanding what you are being served in the coffee shop, you may not have the same need to go and buy and prepare so many different types of coffee yourself.


There is more choice than ever before, and you can buy coffee from all over the globe with different roast profiles, so fortunately you can spend the rest of your coffee-drinking days working out exactly what you like best.



There’s no formula for working out exactly what coffee and which roast level is ideal for your palate, you may also change over time. The best (and most enjoyable) method is to keep drinking coffee and take notes on what you tend to enjoy the most. You might even surprise yourself.


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