4 Types Of Coffee Roasts EXPLAINED With Images

Are you curious about the different types of coffee roasts? And how the roast affects flavor and caffeine levels? 

One of the most important things that affects how good a cup of coffee tastes is how much the coffee beans are roasted. 

Before they are roasted, green coffee beans are soft and smell “grassy.” They don’t have any taste at all. 

During the roasting process, these raw beans change into the fragrant, zesty, crunchy beans that we know as coffee.

There are four major types of coffee roasts, and we’ve put together this helpful guide to help you learn more about them.

There are four kinds of roasts for coffee: light, medium, medium-dark, and dark. Each of these levels of roasting has a different scent, look, and taste.

Types of Coffee Roasts

1. Light Coffee Roasts

light coffee roasts

“Light roast coffee” refers to a coffee roasting style that produces light brown coffee beans with a matte surface. 

This roast style is used to retain the unique characteristics of the coffee bean. 

Unlike dark or medium roast coffees, the “roasty” flavor is subtle and similar to a toasted grain. 

Light roasts present a striking acidity, mellow body, and good flavor.

Light roasts are the product of meticulous tweaking until we see the coffee’s pull potential—a possibility that’s brand new to the world of coffee. 

Thus, light roast becomes a coffee roasted gently enough that its natural flavors are able to blossom in the cup.

Some common light roast names include:

  • Cinnamon Roast
  • New England
  • Light City
  • Half City
  • White Coffee

2. Medium Coffee Roasts

Medium Coffee Roasts

Medium roast coffees are medium brown in color, with no oil on the bean surface. 

Medium roast tends to be sweeter than light roast, with more body and balanced acidity.

This is the beautiful result of natural coffee flavors in harmony with an even, smooth flavor.

Medium roasts are what the average American coffee drinker is used to.

A medium roast brings out the nutty, chocolaty flavor notes of the beans. 

A great medium roast will taste good brewed in a wide variety of methods, pour-over, automatic drip, Moka pot, and espresso, it’s a very pleasing and versatile roast for the majority of coffee lovers.

Some common medium roast names include:

  • American
  • Regular
  • City
  • Breakfast
  • Medium

3. Medium-Dark Coffee Roasts

Medium-Dark Coffee Roasts

Medium-Dark Roasts are roasted several minutes longer than a Medium Roast, until the coffee beans begin popping again – this is the stage called Second Crack and denotes the full development of the coffee.

With a medium-dark roast, you may get flavor notes like bittersweet dark chocolate and dark roasted almonds.

Lovers of medium-dark roast are usually fans of the French press, espresso, and Aeropress brewing methods. 

If you’re using a French press use a coarse grind so your coffee does not become overly bitter due to over-extraction.

With the roast flavor very evident, a Medium-Dark Roast usually has a heavy body, and the flavor may be spicy, perhaps with a bittersweet tang, subtle chocolate and caramel flavors, and hints of smokiness. 

The acidity is lower than a Light Roast or Medium Roast.

In a Medium-Dark Roast the coffee beans become slightly shiny as oils begin to rise to the surface of the coffee beans, which take on a darker brown, somewhat satiny appearance.

Medium-dark roasts are also called:

  • Full City
  • After Dinner
  • Viennese
  • Continental
  • Light Espresso
  • Light French

4. Dark Coffee Roasts

dark roast coffee

Dark roast coffee is dark brown in color with a shiny, oily surface. Dark roast typically has a heavy body and low acid, with deep, sweet flavor notes. These coffees typically have a rich, classic diner-style coffee flavor.

A darker roast is achieved by simply cooking longer at higher temperatures which encourages faster production but can result in burnt-tasting beans if not properly monitored at all times.

The long roast time brings out the bean’s oil which you can see in the brew and produces a strong, sometimes bitter taste.

Dark coffee beans are one of the most popular coffees because it has such rich flavor and aroma. 

A true black color, even close to looking like scorched earth or burnt wood, means this type will coat your tongue with an almost drinkable burning warmth. 

It can’t really be matched by anything else in terms of coffee tastes- except maybe espresso!

Some common dark roast coffee names are:

  • High
  • Espresso
  • European
  • Dark
  • French
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • New Orleans


So there you have it — this was a short guide to the 4 types of common coffee roasts from light to medium to dark.

Ultimately, it’s all about the taste, the flavor, the aroma. You may prefer a lighter roast in the morning (with more caffeine) and a darker one later in the day. Coffee, including the optimal roast level, is a personal preference. What’s yours?

Written by:
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Amit Gupta

Hi, my name is Amit Gupta, and I am the owner and contributor at Cafeish. My obsession with coffee started when I received my first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, my love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets I own – has grown considerably.

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