Light, Medium or Dark Roast. These are probably very familiar roast levels to most coffee drinkers. And not surprising, everyone usually has a preferred roast level. What might be surprising to many coffee drinkers is that the roast level does not indicate the amount of caffeine or the strength of the coffee. I often hear customers asking for really strong coffee when they really mean a dark roast or vice versa. The strength of the coffee is a result of the ratio of coffee to water during the brewing process. You can brew strong coffee with any roast level.

There is no standard nomenclature for roast levels, so I will attempt to familiarize you with some of the more commonly used roast level terminology and what we utilize in our roastery. Let’s start with the light roasts. The first roast level that is considered “consumable” is the Cinnamon roast. These beans will taste very earthy, like wet grass, or a toasted grain. Ok to drink, but probably only if you are a professional that wants to evaluate the inherent flavors notes of that coffee before it is influenced by the roasting process. I don’t recommend this roast level for everyday drinking. Another light roast is a New England (NE) roast. Coffee roast levels are often associated with geographic regions and since New Englanders tend toward a lighter roast, the industry named it for them! These beans are light brown and a bit mottled. The NE roast highlights the origin flavors and characteristics and has a complex acidity. You may also see light roasts referred to as Light City or Half City.

An American roast is usually the lightest of the medium roasts. These beans are a medium light brown with a slightly muted acidity and the origin characteristics are still present. The City roast is a bit darker and a favorite of ours. The beans are a medium brown and while you can still appreciate and taste the full origin flavor notes, the roast is now a noticeable “flavor.”

We offer three dark roasts, a Full City, Full City Plus, and an Italian Roast. With a Full City (FC) roast you have the start of some lovely carmelization, a bit more of the roast is coming through, and you may begin to see a little bit of the oils on the beans. A FC roast sometimes considered a medium roast by some roasters. The Full City Plus (FC+) is a true dark roast. The “roast” really beings to influence the flavor and masks the origin flavor notes. While it might have a little bitter taste, this roast is less acidic. The Italian roast is our darkest roast. The beans are very dark and oily and the only flavor you will usually notice is the “roast.” These very dark roasts are often referred to as French, Spanish, Vienna, or an Espresso Roast.

Each roast level has something special to offer, so I encourage you to experiment and try different roasts.



Category: Brewing 101