A major factor that affects the intensity and flavor of a cup of coffee is the roast level of its beans. Before being roasted, coffee beans are essentially tasteless with a grassy smell and they have a green appearance. To get the coffee look and flavor that people know and love, the roasting process is necessary.
Roast levels range from light to extra dark. Variety, grind, and country of origin aside, let’s look specifically at how roast level affects the taste of coffee.
Light Roasted Coffee
Often called cinnamon roast because of its light brown color, the light roasted coffee provides the mildest flavor, similar to toasted grain with a bit of acidity. It has no oil on the surface of the beans after the roasting process is completed, and this roast level retains the highest level of caffeine. If you want to notice the flavor differences between coffees of different origins, light roast is best. There’s a level that’s a step above light called white roast — which is obtained by under roasting the beans — but it doesn’t have a traditional coffee flavor, isn’t very common in stores and cafes, and is best suited for those who don’t enjoy bold drinks.
Medium Roasted Coffee
The color of medium roast coffee is darker and the flavor is more pronounced. Medium roasted coffee is very balanced, with a smooth taste and fuller body. This level is also known as city, breakfast, and American roast.
Dark Roasted Coffee
Dark roast coffee is sometimes described as spicy, and is even darker in color than medium roasted beans. The dark roast level is often used to make espresso and lends gourmet coffee drinks a very rich and intense flavor. If you like your coffee very bold, go for an extra dark roast. These beans have a noticeable bit of oil on their surface after the roasting process. Extra dark coffee has a smoky character with a tinge of bitterness. Those who enjoy coffee’s flavor but don’t want to drink a ton of caffeine should try darker roasts, since the caffeine at this level is at a minimum.