Most people assume that coffee needs to be black, while this might be ok most don’t realize that there is more than one roast available. Over the years I have come to realize the color of your coffee isn’t what matters, it’s how it tastes. This is why I recommend you try a light roast bean, read on to find out why.
What is Coffee?
All coffee beans start out as cherries from a plant that grows in one of the following regions: Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. These areas are referred to as the coffee belt. This is because the temperature and rainfall needed to grow coffee are best in this area.
Inside the coffee cherry, the bean lives. After the cherries are harvested, the bean is extracted and begins its journey to meet up with your coffee pot.
There are two main types of coffee plants: Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica is the most common. It tends to produce a better tasting bean. They’re known to be sweet, have more complexity, and contain higher quality flavors and aromas.
Robusta beans are the cheaper bean. They will have an earthy more bitter flavor but contain more caffeine.
What is Roasting?
After the beans get harvested, they make their way to the roaster. Roasting basically takes the bean from green to brown. There are 3 steps involved in roasting:
The coffee beans need to be dry before they can be roasted so, in this stage, they will be tossed in a roasting barrel for 4 to 6 minutes at 320°F. It’s very important during this stage that the beans do not burn or it will mess with the flavor.
During this stage, things begin to change. Sugars and amino acids react to create different color and aroma compounds. The coffee will produce what is called the “first crack” during this stage. The energy that is produced during this time is what makes it crack.
This stage continues after the first crack and the time it roasts depends on the flavor profile and roast degree that is trying to be achieved.
There are basically 3 different types of roasts. Light, medium, and dark. You will have different variations between the 3 but typically, you will want to stay away from the really dark roasts, they will be almost charred from the roasting process.
Lightly roasted beans will be more acidic and fruity. They will be light brown in color with no oil on the surface. The flavors are retained because they aren’t burnt off during continued roasting.
Roasting will reach between 350°F and 400°F. At 400°F you will hear the “first crack”. Most light roasts aren’t taken past this point.
Medium roast beans are browner in color than the light roast. They also have very little oil on the surface. They tend to have more balanced flavor, aroma and acidity.
Medium roasts are in the barrel from the time you hear the first crack to where you almost hear the second crack.
Dark roasts tend to be bitter. They have an oily appearance on the bean and a much darker color. The flavor is going to have an earthy, more robust, almost charred taste.
Why is Light Roast, Light?
A light roast is light because it doesn’t stay inside the roasting drum long enough to change color. Roasting the beans actually burns them and that’s why they change colors throughout the process.
Is Light Roast More Caffeinated?
Yes, light roast beans tend to have slightly higher amounts of caffeine but not for reasons you think. I used to think that the caffeine burnt off but it’s acctually pretty stable during roasting. You have to judge caffeine content by weight of the beans.
If you think of it in terms of mass, beans lose a lot of their mass during roasting. This changes the density of the bean. So if you measure by scoops, lightly roasted coffee will have more caffeine becasue there is less mass.
In all actuality, you probably won’t even be able to tell the difference, so there is no need in stressing about it. I simply choose light roast for the flavor difference.
But like all things, it’s a personal preference. I personally don’t enjoy a burnt cup of coffee. While there are so many factors that can affect your joe, the only dark roast I like is one that has a chocolate flavor.
Top Light Roast Picks for 2022
1. Invader Coffee’s Air Roasted Whiskey Blend
This is my absolute favorite coffee that I have found so far!
First of all, if you have never had air-roasted coffee…I highly recommend you give it a try! It’s life-changing.
The whiskey blend is a light to medium roast (I said there were variations between the roasts and this is one of them) has a rich, oaky aroma with complex hints of molasses, caramel, and vanilla. (Also, let me say there is no alcohol in this brew)
2. LifeBoosts Light Roast Bean
Lifeboost coffee’s light roast is hand-picked from fair trade, mountain shade grown farmers to bring you a single-origin 100% arabica bean. Their light roast has a bright, slightly more acidic taste to allow more flavor notes to be discovered.
3. Kicking Horse’s Hola Light Roast
This light roast is from Central America and has a rich berry, brown sugar aroma with juicy red fruit acidity and a creamy honey body. It’s certified organic, fair trade, and grown in an environmentally responsible way.
You will love this wild-spirited blend, I promise.
4. Coffee Bros Light Roast
This light roast bean is extremely sweet and delicate with flavor notes of honey, citrus fruit, and florals to give you a clean, crisp, and silky body. Believe it or not, this light roast makes a great cup of espresso.
We believe that not all coffee is created equally and everyone is entitled to different opinions, which we love to hear! If you have never tried lightly roasted coffee, I suggest you do so at least once in your lifetime. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Leave your favorite light roast coffee blend in the comments, I would love to know which one I need to try next.