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Not all coffee is roasted equally

There are various ways or levels coffee is roasted. Each roast-level can bring different flavors or flavor profiles in your cup.

Which roast-level is right for you?


Let’s start by explaining what a roast-level is. When coffee is roasted there are several important events during the roasting process that indicate to a coffee roaster (such as myself) how the coffee is developing.

The amount of time used to develop coffee in the roasting process will determine its roast-level. We most commonly know of three generic roast-level descriptors - light, medium and dark.

There are at least six roast-levels that have been identified and named in the coffee industry. These are indicated below. Click on the images to enlarge for information on the type of roast level it is.

In light roasted coffee you will notice a lighter mouthfeel in the coffee's body, however bright fruity notes like citrus, strawberry or grape dominate the flavor profile. We will call these top notes. Most often light roasted coffees will bring out the specific and unique characteristics of the region and country the coffee derived from. For example, if you are drinking a light roasted coffee from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia you will taste characteristics of lemon, or floral, or even blueberry notes.

In medium roasts, sugars, like sucrose, are more developed and will bring more of a balance of brightness and and sweetness. Bottom notes like brown sugar, graham cracker and chocolate become more predominate, and the mouthfeel becomes heavier and smoother.

In dark roasted coffee, the favored characteristics are the deep caramelization of sugars that it brings to the cup. Notes like caramel, molasses, and smokiness dominate in the flavor profile. Most of the coffee’s original regional characteristics have been masked by the development of sugars in the coffee’s structure, leaving more of a roast flavor.

An important decision for a coffee roaster is what level of roasting would best showcase characteristics or flavor profile of that particular regional coffee. Some coffees showcase their best characteristics in a light roast. Others do well as a darker roast due to their heavier bottom notes and smooth body.

Everyone has a different expectation and preference when they drink and taste coffee. And, some coffee works better for some people's palate, while different coffees work for others. I would, however, keep an open mind and try various types of coffee in each roast-level and be mindful of what you are tasting. You may end up discovering something new and exciting in a new coffee.

In the online Storibord coffee shop, I indicate in each of the coffee descriptions what level of roast I prepared the coffee based off what I have found to best showcase it biggest potential in flavor. If you have any questions regarding the roasting process or coffee in general, please feel free to contact me. In the meantime, check out what's new at Storibord Coffee Roasters.

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