Let's Talk Roast Levels


Let’s Talk Roast Levels!

If you like coffee, chances are that the roast level plays a significant role in your decision making process of choosing which coffee you purchase! We often hear people say things like “I like dark roast coffees, because they are stronger” such statements are often followed by a small roar! Let’s dive a bit deeper into the differences between the roast levels of a coffee, and how that may affect the taste of the beverage!

Green to brown: 

As we know, coffee reaches us roasters as a really dense, practically impossible to grind/extract green coloured seed (bean)! We subject these little seeds to super high temperatures in our roasters, which causes a whole bunch of chemical reactions in the seed which results in development of sugars, compounds, and browning of the green seed. 

Coffee roasting stages

source: pongpinun traisrisilp - Shutterstock

Stages in coffee roasting

Stage 1 - Drying - colour changes from green to a pale yellow
Stage 2 - Caramelization - colour changes from yellow to a light brown
Once the bean reaches temperatures of around 190-200C, and the coffee hits the First Crack the colour is a light brown, from here on in, during the 
Stage 3 - Development - Rapid colour changes from light brown to darker brows

The final temperature and the development time (time are the first crack) are generally the key contributors in deciding the final colour of the bean. The higher the end temperature the darker the colour of the coffee, the longer the time after the first crack the darker is the colour of the coffee (there is more nuance to it, but for now let’s just stick to this)

What are the different roast levels:

At Bloom Coffee Roasters, we like to categorise our coffees into a 5 point roast level system

Light - images of coffees

Medium Light

Medium

Medium Dark

Dark

Like most aspects of coffee, roast colour is also subjective. For someone coming from a more commercial coffee roaster like a Starbucks or Cafe Coffee Day, our dark roast might look like a medium. While those coming from Scandinavia who practically open their coffees at the onset of first crack, our light roast might look like a medium or a medium light!
For us communicating the roast level is not just about the colour of the coffee, it is also indicative of the kind of flavours the coffee should have and maybe even, to a very slight extent the the brewing method that’s best suited to the coffee.

What to expect from different roast levels?

Roast Level

Acidity

Mouthfeel

Sweetness

Bitterness

Light

High

Medium-low

Medium

Low

Medium light

High-medium

Medium-low

Medium-high

Low

Medium

Medium

Medium

Medium-High

Low-Medum

Medium Dark

Medium-low

Medium-High

Medium-high

Medium

Dark

Low

Medium-high

Medium-low

Medium-high

 

These are fairly broad guidelines, every coffee will inevitably taste different, and will respond uniquely to roast profiles. What we can generalise to an extent is that as we go darker in the coffee colour spectrum, there is reduction in the acidity, and an increase in the sweetness, upto a point where the sweetness gets overpowered by the bitterness. Beyond a certain temperature and colour, you really cannot taste coffee, it’s more along the lines of Charcoal and carbon.

How does the roast level affect the way you brew your coffee

Roast levels can to a certain extent dictate the brewing method, and traditionally darker roasts have been seen as espresso focused, whereas lighter roasts are more suited to filter and manual brewing. Although there is some truth to this, but we kind of disagree with this. For us, if done well, a light roast can make a tremendously sweet bright espresso, which can even go very well with milk, and a dark roast can make a really nice filter coffee. What is critically important is knowing how to tweak your brewing parameters to get the most of the coffee at hand (we’ll get into that in a later post)

Our coffees corresponding to roast levels:

Light Roast - The Yellow Honey Venkids Valley Estate

Medium Light - MS Estate Kents Naturals

Medium - Moganad Estate

Medium Dark - Venkids Valley Estate

Dark - Salawara Estate (we know it’s not that dark)

 

*Title Image: https://wholebodycoffee.com/2020/08/08/roast-levels/

*Roast stages image: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/coffee-roast-curve-464098091 (pongpinun traisrisilp)

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