Arabica and Robusta are our two primary varieties of coffee, with Arabica accounting for the great majority of coffee used in coffee shop businesses (per the SCAA). On your travels to become a coffee connoisseur, you need to know all about the different coffee roasts. What is coffee roasting, you might ask? Coffee roasting is where the coffee beans are roasted in a high heat treatment that will transform coffee beans into the fragrant, dark brown beans we know and love.

The Process

Coffee bean roasting is a science and an art and is not learned lightly. Roasting takes timing right down to the second to capture the coffee beans’ essence. You see that yummy coffee smell and goodness are trapped inside the original coffee bean. Now here is the science part. When roasting them under high temperatures, it creates a chemical reaction that unleashes the coffee bean’s aroma and flavor. However, once that threshold is hit, it has to be stopped and quickly cooled to seal it in. If it’s off one millisecond from that threshold, the whole batch can be ruined.

Roast Types

While many roasters have creative names for their type of roasting and coffee, the four main types of roasts are:

Light Roast

This roast is light brown and often used for milder coffee drinks. Because these beans were not roasted long enough for the oils to break through to the surface, there will be no oil on the surface of this coffee bean.

Medium Roast

This roast has a medium brown color and a non-oily surface. It has a more potent flavor, too—a perfect roast for those who find a dark roast too overpowering, but a light roast is not enough. Popular in the United States, it’s known as the American roast.

Medium-Dark Roast

A roast that delivers a rich, dark color, some oil remains on the surface. This type of roast will give you a slight bittersweet aftertaste for those who don’t want to go to the dark side completely.

Dark Roast

For those who like to put hair on their chests, dark roasts are for them. This roast yields a lustrous black bean that has an oily top sheen to it. Its delivery is a strong, robust bitter taste. Beware of those coffees labeled extra dark roast. These are often burnt and do not represent the true smooth, sweet beauty of an authentic dark roast itself.

What coffee bean roast is your favorite?