What Is Coffee Roasting? Coffee Roasting Explained


Coffee roasting is the process that brings the flavors and aromas out of the green, soft coffee beans, There are three coffee roastings, lightly roasted coffee, medium roasted coffee, and dark roasted coffee.

The degree of how much coffee beans are roasted is one of the most important factors that tell the taste of the coffee. Before roasting, coffee beans are green, soft, with a fresh smell and little or no taste. The roasting process transforms these raw beans into the scented, flavorful, crunchy beans that we recognize as coffee.

Other factors, that determine your coffee’s taste:

Two coffee varieties, from different countries, origins, grown in different soils and environments will surely taste quite different even if they are roasted to the same level.

The age of the coffee, the processing method, the grind, and the preparing method will also change the taste. But the roast level provides a starting point or baseline, a rough guide to the taste you should expect.

The common way to define the coffee roast levels is by the color of the roasted beans, which range from light to dark (or extra dark). When the coffee beans absorb heat in the roasting process, their color becomes darker as the oils appear on the surface of the beans at higher temperatures. The coffee beans vary, color is not an accurate way of judging a roast. But with the typical roasting temperature that yields a particular shade of brown, color is a suitable way to categorize roasting levels.

In general, we can categorize the most common coffee roasts from light to dark, let’s find out the difference between Coffee Roasting:


The Light roasts are light brown in color and have no oil on the surface of the beans. The light roasts have a brownish grain taste and noticeable acidity. The beans flavors are retained to a greater extent than in darker roasted coffees. Light roasts also keep most of the caffeine from the coffee bean.

The Light roasted beans mostly reach an internal temperature of 356°F to 401°F. At or around 300-350 degrees, the beans crack and expand in size. This is known as the first crack. So basically, a light roast means a coffee that has not been roasted beyond the first crack.

Roasted Coffee Beans Inside White Ceramic Mug


Medium roasted coffee is medium brown in color and has more body than light roasts. Exactly the lighter roasts, they have no oil on the bean surfaces. Though, medium roasts lack the grainy taste of the light roasts. They exhibit a more balanced flavor, aroma, and acidity. Caffeine is less, but Medium roasted Coffee has more caffeine than in darker roasts.

Medium roasts have an internal temperature between 410°F and 428°F between the end of the first crack and just before the beginning of the second crack.

Brown Coffee Beans


Medium-dark roasts have a richer, darker brown color. Some oil begins to show on the surface of the beans. A medium-dark roast has a heavy body in comparison with the lighter or medium roasts but lighter than dark roasts.

The beans get roasted to the beginning or middle of the second crack about 437-450°F. The flavor and aroma of the roasting process become prominent, but the taste of the coffee may be somewhat spicy.



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Dark roasted coffee beans are dark brown in color, like chocolate, and sometimes almost black. They have the shine of oil on the surface. It is usually evident in the cup when the dark roast coffee is prepared. The dark roast coffee generally has a bitter, smoky or even burnt taste and the amount of caffeine is substantially decreased.

Coffee beans are roasted to an internal temperature of 465-480°F to reach the level of dark roast, at the end of the second crack or beyond. They are often roasted to a temperature exceeding 490°F, at this point the body of the beans is thin and the taste is determined by flavors of tar and charcoal.

Black Ceramic Cup With Coffee Beans All on Brown Wooden Surface

Apart from this short guide to the common coffee roasts from light to dark, to summarize the differences, in addition to the color range, here are some tips:

  • As coffee roasts get darker, they lose the origin flavors of the beans and take the flavor from the roasting process.
  • The body of the coffee gets heavier until the second crack, but on the second crack, it again thins.
  • Lighter roasts have more acidity than medium, dark-medium, and dark roasts.
  • Lighter roasted beans are dry, while darker roasts develop a sheen of oil on the bean surface.
  • The caffeine levels decrease when the roast gets darker.

Finally, it is all about the taste, the flavor, the aroma. It’s up to you if you prefer a lighter roast in the morning (which has more caffeine to get moving). The darker one later in the day, (generally less caffeine).

Roast level preferences are subjective because the roast level you like may depend on where you live. In the United States, folks on the West Coast traditionally prefer darker roasts than those on the East Coast. Europeans also favored dark roasts. 

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