What are the major differences between light, medium and dark roasted coffee beans?

Wat zijn de grote verschillen tussen light, medium en dark roasted koffiebonen?
Coffee Roasting Processes Explained: Light, Medium and Dark Roast

Coffee roasting processes:

Light, Medium & Dark Roast

Before we explain the differences in the various roasting profiles, it is important to know that the coffee roasting process is crucial for the quality of your coffee.

light Roast coffee bean

1. Light Roasted Coffee

Characteristics:

  • Color: Light brown and no oil on the surface.
  • Taste: Fresh, often fruity and sour, retaining many original flavors.
  • Complexity: Wide range of flavor notes such as floral, citrus, berry and spice.
  • Acidity: High compared to medium and dark roasted coffee.

Roasting process:

  • Temperature: Up to an internal temperature of approximately 180-205°C.
  • Duration: Shorter to preserve the original and subtle flavors.
  • Crack Phase: Just past the 'first crack', where the beans crackle due to the heat.

Suitable Brewing Methods:

  • Filter coffee: Optimal for filter coffee, where the floral and fruity flavors shine.
  • Pour Over: Excellent with pour-over methods such as Chemex or V60.
  • Cold Brew: A fresh and fruity cold brew.

Advantages:

  • Taste retention: More original flavors of the coffee bean.
  • Caffeine content: Slightly higher than dark roasted coffee beans.
  • Variety: Wide range of flavors and aromas.

Cons:

  • Not for everyone: Can be experienced as too acidic.
  • Preparation methods: Less suitable for espresso.

Extra information:

Light roasted coffee is especially loved by connoisseurs for its fresh and fruity notes, especially in filter coffee. But for espresso it lacks the firm body that is often desired. It offers a unique complexity and preserves the original flavors of the bean.

Conclusion:

Light roasted coffee is often the choice for filter coffee, where the floral and fruity flavors come into their own. However, with a light roasted coffee you miss the nice firm body when you brew it as espresso. These beans are roasted just after the point of 'first crack', this is the moment when the beans start to crack and lose their moisture (you will hear a kind of popcorn sound). The first crack is an important moment in the roasting process, from that moment on the development time of the coffee bean is analyzed. It is good to know that light roast coffee does not equal a weak and sour tasting coffee. On the contrary, it preserves the original flavors of the bean and offers a complexity that is especially appreciated by a select group of coffee lovers because the taste differs from the usually "normal" cup of coffee.

Medium Roast Coffee

2. Medium Roasted Coffee

Characteristics:

  • Color: Medium brown, ranging from milk chocolate to brown sugar.
  • Taste: Balanced acidity and bitterness with a smoother taste.
  • Oil: Little to no oil on the surface of the beans.
  • Flavor profile: Less acidic, but retains many original flavors with some roasted notes.

Roasting process:

  • Temperature: About 210-220°C.
  • Duration: Until the beginning or middle of the 'second crack'.
  • Balance: Seeks balance between preservation of original and development of roasted flavors.

Suitable Brewing Methods:

  • Espresso: Suitable for espresso thanks to the balanced taste and nice firm body.
  • Filter coffee: Works well for various filter methods.
  • French Press: Also a good choice for fuller-bodied coffee methods such as the French Press.

Advantages:

  • Versatility: Suitable for many different brewing methods.
  • Balanced Taste: Balanced, easy-to-drink coffee.

Cons:

  • Less Complex: May lose some delicate notes during roasting, but this is minimal.

Extra information:

Medium roast coffee is often the starting point for many coffee drinkers. It has a nice balance between sour and bitter, making it approachable while still retaining enough complexity for an interesting cup of coffee.

Conclusion:

Medium roasted coffee beans undergo a longer roasting process than light roasted coffee beans, resulting in a balanced taste. This way, the true original flavors remain, as well as a nice firm body that is developed during the development process after the first crack. This roasting process is particularly suitable for espresso, where the balanced acidity and slightly sweet notes are positively present. When you brew a medium roast coffee strongly, it is also an excellent choice for coffee with dairy products. However, it is crucial to keep a close eye on the water ratio to avoid over-extraction and preserve the harmonious flavors. All the positive qualities just mentioned come to the fore when you are dealing with a quality coffee, because then the real flavors of the coffee bean in question emerge. When you are dealing with a coffee bean of poor quality, you will immediately taste this and the process will be detrimental. For this reason, these coffee beans, similar to supermarket coffee beans, are roasted longer and therefore darker so that the actual coffee bean flavors are lost.

Dark Roast Coffee

3. Dark Roasted Coffee

Characteristics:

  • Colour: Dark brown to almost black with an oily surface.
  • Taste: Mainly bitter.
  • Acidity: Significantly lower than lighter roasts.

Roasting process:

  • Temperature: 240°C and higher.
  • Duration: Longer, often until the 'second crack' or beyond.
  • Crack Phase: Well into the 'second crack'.

Suitable Brewing Methods:

  • Espresso: Excellent for espresso preparations.
  • French Press: Also suitable for the French Press because of the full body.

Advantages:

  • Firm body: Provides a powerful, full body.
  • Espresso: Espresso is often chosen because of its strong taste.

Cons:

  • Less Variety: Less variation in flavor compared to light roasts.
  • Burning Taste: Can sometimes taste burnt and bitter.
  • Taste: You miss the original flavors of the coffee bean.

Extra information:

Dark roasted coffee is often associated with a robust, strong coffee experience. It is often chosen for espresso and blends that can withstand the addition of milk and sugar without losing their characteristic strength.

Conclusion:

Dark roasted coffee is sometimes unfairly seen in a negative light. While it is true that some of the coffee bean's natural flavors are lost during the longer roasting process, it also has its own charm and uses. For Robusta coffee beans, for example, dark roasting is an excellent choice. Robusta beans retain their characteristic taste, even when roasted longer and therefore darker. As a result, they offer a powerful, earthy and often nutty taste. It is good to know that the 'first crack' of Robusta beans takes longer compared to Arabica beans. This creates a unique flavor profile for dark roasting coffee. For example, our Dark Desire espresso coffee blend contains a dark roasted Specialty Robusta coffee bean from India, which provides a beautiful hazelnut-like taste.

Coffee roasterGreen Coffee Beans

Our vision on the three fire processes

Roasting coffee is a craft in itself, with each stage of the process carefully controlled to achieve the desired flavor profiles. Whether you choose a light, medium or dark roast, it is the care, attention and expertise of the roaster that ensures that the coffee bean reaches its maximum potential, with the quality of the coffee bean as the highest priority.

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