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Roast Levels of Coffee

If you are a coffee lover, there are times when you would want to roast your coffee.

But roasting coffee is a skill that requires you to be well-versed with a couple of things.

First, it would help if you had a deeper understanding of different roasts and roast levels.

Fortunately, if you put your mind to it, it may take less time to ace all the roast levels of coffee.

Of course, depending on the type of coffee beans that you’ll be using.

In this blog, we break down the roast levels of coffee beans and explain each level for you. I hope you’ll find this article helpful.

But before we dive in, let’s answer this crucial question:

What is coffee roasting?

There are many definitions of coffee roasting; here is the easiest one: Roasting coffee transforms coffee beans into roasted beans that you can use to brew coffee.

When you roast coffee, you’ll heat coffee beans and turn them into dark brown beans, which are one of the best sources of antioxidants in most diets.

Also, roasting coffee beans produces a unique flavor that will make your coffee tasteful. 

Expect your beans’ color and texture to change drastically.

For instance, a light roast will usually look slightly brown, whereas a dark roast will look darker.

So as a roaster, you’re expected to determine the exact point of roasting by how your coffee beans look, a skill that may take some time to master for some people. 

Typical Roast Levels of Coffee

There are standard roast levels every coffee enthusiast should be aware of: light, medium, dark, and darker than dark, but there are other levels as well.

So in each of those levels, you will find various degrees of texture or flavor.

The coffee industry uses different names and definitions for each roast level.

Let’s examine each:

Unroasted Green Coffee

At this level, the unroasted coffee beans are usually green if they are from South America, brownish if they are from Ethiopia, or darker green if they are from Indonesia.

Always pay attention to the color of your coffee beans. 

Light Roast

You use light roast when you want to preserve your coffee’s natural flavors.

A light roast will typically have a more delicate flavor than darker roasts.

Hence, light roasts tend to be light brown, lacking oil on the beans and light body.

When you use a light roast, you can reach a temperature of about 350º–410º.

Over and above that, light roasts have varying roasts, from Light City, Half City, or Cinnamon. 

Drying Coffee ~ 320 °F, 160 °C (Midlevel roast)

At this point, your coffee beans are at mid-roast level and the moisture is slowly melting.

And when you smell your coffee beans you will smell a sweet grass aroma. 

 Cinnamon Roast ~ 385 °F, 196 °C

At this level, your coffee beans are beginning to crack.

While it’s possible to brew your beans at this stage, they are still pretty undeveloped. 

City Roast ~ 400 °F, 205 °C (Light Roast)

At this stage, you are at the mid-first crack.

Your beans are beginning to smell like coffee, and they are drinkable. 

City + Roast ~ 405 – 410 °F, 207 – 210 °C (Light-Medium)

 At this level, you can taste the individual character and origin of the coffee beans.

Your coffee beans are also developing more body and acidity in your coffee begins to build up. 

Medium Roast

A medium roast coffee is a brown and thicker body than a light roast.

Compared to a light roast, with this roast, you can preserve your coffee bean’s aroma and flavors and replace the brightness of the light roast.

Light roasts have a varying degree of roasts, from City, American, and Breakfast.

Because medium roast tends to take longer to roast, it reduces the acidity in light-roast coffees. Besides, your beans will be less oily and dry most of the time.

When using a medium roast, you will reach between 400 and 430 degrees.

Full City Roast Full City + Roast ~ 410 – 430 °F, 210 – 221 °C (Full Medium)

Here you are at a level known as “Full Medium”, which is a stage when your second crack happens, and your coffee beans become a tad oily. 

Dark Roast

When you are at this level with your roasting, your coffee beans have been roasted quite longer.

At this level, your beans will have moderate flavors and caffeine levels.

Your coffee will taste more bitter than a light roast and look darker and more full-bodied than a light roast.

Dark roasts are typically referred to as New Orleans, Italian, French.

Vienna French

At this level, your beans are dark brown, have bigger cracks, and are more oily.

Your coffee will also taste bitter.

Final Thoughts 

Remember, roast levels play a critical role in your coffee bean’s overall look and how your coffee tastes.

That said, choosing a specific level is no guarantee that you’ll enjoy your coffee. 

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