Everybody has their own opinion on what the best shade of coffee is. Some people like darker roasts that have a heavy mouthfeel and a rich, smoky flavor profile. Other people prefer lighter roasts, which tend to be tangy and have a subtle toasted grain flavor.
If you ask a few of your coffee- loving friends which roast they prefer, you’ll get lots of different answers… so it can be hard to figure out what the best shade of coffee for you is!
If you haven’t figured out which shade of coffee you prefer yet, we’re here to help! We’re going to tell you all about the flavor profile of each roast so that you can find the best roast coffee for you. We promise to remain unbiased and keep our opinion out of it… although we do love a good medium roast!
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Light Roast Coffee
As coffee beans absorb heat during the roasting process, they change color and become darker. So the longer a coffee bean has been roasted, the darker it will be.
Light roasts retain their light brown color because the beans are roasted for less time and absorb less heat. They only reach an internal temperature of around 350 to 400 degrees, whereas dark roasts may reach 482 degrees before they’re done roasting.
Light roasts have a higher caffeine content than other roasts because of the shorter roasting time. They also retain more of the original flavor of the coffee beans. So whatever notes the coffee beans have will be much more pronounced in a light roast than in a dark roast.
Light roasts have all the same flavors as other types of coffee, so you might get one that has floral notes, fruity notes, nutty notes, or something else entirely!
On the whole, though, light roasts tend to be sweeter than other types of coffee. They also tend to have a bit of a tangier finish because of the higher acid content. So if you’re looking for a type of coffee that doesn’t have a whole lot of acidity, you might be better off going with a medium roasted coffee.
Medium Roast Coffee
We think that medium roast is the best roast, and most Americans agree with us! A 2016 survey by the National Coffee Association found that 63% of Americans drink medium roasted coffee.
We think it’s the best roast coffee because it has all of the upsides of a light roast with none of the downsides. It retains a lot of the natural flavors of the coffee beans and a lot of the caffeine content, but it doesn’t have as much acidity as a light roast would.
Medium-Dark Roast Coffee
This is the type of coffee you’ll want to drink on a cold winter morning! It has a full body with low acidity and lots of spicy, smoky notes. You might taste pepper or clove in your cup or hints of black licorice or chocolate.
Because this type of coffee takes on so many smoky flavors during the roasting process, it retains less of the natural flavors of the beans. Some people view this as a downside, but we still think that this roast is complex, flavorful, and deserving of a place in your cupboard!
Dark Roast Coffee
If you like your coffee to have a kick, this is the best roast to try! Dark roasted coffee has even more of a rich, smoky flavor profile than the medium-dark roast we just covered. It has that quintessential- roasted- coffee- aroma that fills your nose every time you enter Starbucks. If you want a bold, strong coffee that’ll perk you right up in the morning, this is it!
Unfortunately, that bold coffee flavor comes at a price. You won’t be able to taste much of the natural flavor of the coffee beans—you’ll mostly taste the smoky notes that come from the roasting process. This type of coffee can sometimes taste bitter or even burnt if the beans are over-roasted. It’ll have that bold, strong coffee flavor you’re after without that burnt, bitter taste that some dark roasted coffee can take on during the roasting process.