What is Light Roast Coffee and How Does it Taste Like?


We are here to officially dub light roast as the underdog of the coffee world.

There are a number of assumptions around light roast that lead people to not go for it as often, such as that it has less caffeine or that it will have a weaker taste. This could also be guiding people towards it for the wrong reasons. Talk about coffee myths! Light roast is in fact an amazing option with tons of health benefits, including more antioxidants than darker roasts. To get light roast to that point, a lot goes in to it.

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What Makes Coffee Light Roast?

It order to make coffee into the recognizable brown bean that it is, it has to go through a process called roasting. Similar to roasting vegetables, this means heating the beans to very high temperatures. Now unlike vegetables, do not season the beans and serve them with mashed potatoes. The roasting process is going to extract oil from the beans, thus changing their densities and the flavors that will come out of them when they are brewed. It’s from there that the beans can be ground, brewed, and served!

A light roast bean it roasted for less time than a medium or dark roast, but it’s not quite that simple. Light roast beans need to be heated within a “356-401°F” window before being quickly moved to the cooling tray—or else they will become medium roast before we know it. It’s during the heating process that darker roasts similar to this Death Wish Coffee brand, lose those important antioxidants, while the quick process of the light roast preserves those very benefits. Look closely at light roast beans, and they are in fact lighter in color than dark roast beans.

The window of time and temperature that creates light roast coffee means the beans have less oil on their surface, leaving them more dense because that moisture stays inside of the bean. It is also too soon in the roasting for caramelization to begin, which lends to the flavors in dark roast when more of that process can happen. This process also allows for more of the flavors of the individual beans to remain intact, such as the flavors that differentiate between robusta and arabica beans or that come from other growing conditions. This lends to creating more unique blends from the light roast coffee.

How Much Caffeine Does Light Roast Have?

We are trying our best to break the myth that light roast coffee has less caffeine—because it in fact tends to have more than dark roast coffee. It’s the density of the coffee that is a huge hint to this fact. While the roasting process does lead to dark roasts to have thicker bodies with bolder notes, it is in no way going to give you more of an edge as far as energy is concerned.

Stick to the pleasant flavors of light roasts similar to Starbucks’ Veranda blend to potentially get more of boost, but even then, the difference is not going to be a complete game changer once the coffee is ground and brewed. Without caffeine content making that much of a difference, it’s the flavor that is the most important thing to come from the roasting process.

Here’s What Light Roast Tastes Like

At the end of the day, we like to think this is really what matters. It’s the flavor of a light roast that will have you purchasing it again at a local coffeeshop—or even have you making it at home.

The roasting process that gives us light roast coffee is going to lead to a thinner bodied coffee and more acidic flavors. That initially sounds like a bad combination, but the proper roaster will use beans whose notes complement the acidity and the thinner body. Light roast coffees often have sweet, fruity notes, as well occasionally hints of florals. Completely questionable why those are not more popular!

Some of Our Favorite Light Roast Blends

Due to the acidity that comes with light roast blends, be sure to get your hands on only the best of the best in order to ensure the flavor is what it should be. The following three options are not just from great companies, but they have also developed some great notes that will sit right with anyone who enjoys light roasts.

  • La Golondrina from Counter Culture has beautiful milk chocolate, cherry, and nutty notes.
  • We love the unique notes of fudge, mandarin, and toffee in La Colombe’s Peru – El Guayacan blend.
  • Gesha Village 2017 Wet Processed from Passenger is a classic light roast with its citrusy and tart notes. Passenger is a great company with how much detail they give you about the timing of the roast and where the beans come from!

Here’s a few more delicious light roast coffee that you can add to your coffee stash if the above list wasn’t enough already: Coffee Bros, Real Good Coffee Company and Kicking Horse. We personally like the Coffee Bros blend, it has the perfect amount of depth that we like!

Hopefully, we solved all of your questions on light roast coffee. Be sure to share and join 80K+ other people following @coffeesesh. If you want to learn more about roasting and its effects, read up on medium roast here and dark roast here!

Want to learn more about making coffee from people just like you? Be sure to join our private Facebook group here at Daily Coffee Talk. You’ll be able to learn how to brew, how to roast and most importantly how to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee!

Thanks for reading, brew ya later! ☕️

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