The most common of roasted coffee styles is the light roast. This can be referred to as a cinnamon roast, light city or New England style. These beans look dry and the flavor has a higher acidity and a light bodied flavor, which one shouldn't confuse as being weak. In the world of roasted coffee styles, the lighter the roast, the more confidence the roaster has in the flavor of the bean itself. It's like a great piece of beef: You don't want to overcook it. Instead, the roasting is stopped just after the first crack of the bean, where the oils begin to release.
Medium is another one of the more familiar roasted coffee styles. Medium roasted coffee styles are often referred to as a breakfast blend, regular or brown. The beans in these roasted coffee styles are medium-brown in color, have good body, nice complexity and even a slight sweetness in the taste. The next level of roasted coffee styles is known by different names, all associated with the depth of the roast. This can include full city, Viennese and Espresso. The beans will be shiny and oily looking, since the beans were allowed to crack again. The taste is a bit spicy with a touch of bittersweet aftertaste. The final level of roasted coffee is dark. Levels of dark roasted coffee styles include French and Italian.
After the second crack, the sugar in the beans start to burn. Contrary to popular opinion, dark roasts are often the least flavorful of all the roasted coffee styles, at least in terms of the flavor of the bean. Instead, you taste the smoky, sweet flavor of the roast that can border on the burnt side. Of course, the actual roasted coffee you prefer depends on your own personal tastes. But often, people eschew the lighter roasts in favor of the darker roasted coffee styles, thinking they are richer in flavor and more robust, when in fact, they are not. Darker roasts may even be masking the fact that lower quality beans are being used. Roasted coffee styles range from extremely light to extremely dark but surprisingly, the darker roasted coffee styles aren't as full bodied in flavor than their lighter counterparts. After learning more about roasted coffee styles, you may never want a dark roast again.
- Jammie McClure