So, you’re asking, “What is light roast coffee beans, and what’s the difference between light and dark roasts?” Well, The difference between a light roast coffee bean and a dark roast coffee bean is the time in which the beans are roasted or cooked before they are ground. Commonly referred to by the color of the finished bean. Roasting is a process that modifies the color, taste, acidity, and profile of coffee. Different roasts produce different tastes. So What is light roast coffee beans? They’re lighter, more flavorful beans.
Remember: All coffee sold in stores is almost exclusively dark roasted coffee — regardless of what the package claims. Even Starbucks’ blonde veranda roast falls into a medium-dark roast by roasting standards. If you didn’t buy the beans directly from the guy running the roaster, odds are, you’re buying a dark roast.
So, What is light roast coffee beans?
A light roast is one that brings forward the original flavors of the bean. In a light roast, you’re most able to distinguish between a bean’s origin. For instance, South America beans have a sweet, caramel note in them with a nutty undertone. Beans from Brazil alone, contain a chocolate note with a strong smell of peanuts. Beans from Indonesia have a smoky flavor and can sometimes taste like unsweetened cocoa. If you pick your beans up from the local grocer, it’s likely you’ve never tasted these flavors in your beans and think that coffee just tastes like… Well, coffee.
That’s because shelf stable coffee, which retains its flavor and freshness long enough to be sold in stores, is roasted darker than necessary. This adds a preservative effect to the beans and gives them a universal taste. Not that there’s anything wrong with shelf stable beans. They’re just an entirely different product. Light to medium roasted coffee is only good for a very limited amount of time after roasting, typically they need to be consumed within 2 weeks.
Well then, what is a dark roast coffee bean?
Dark roasted beans are typically featured in large coffee shops, store brands, and on shelves. The dark roasting means that there will be a universal taste to the beans regardless of origin. Simply because you’re tasting the flavors from the roast, rather than the bean itself. Dark roasting is done because of tradition, but largely because of taste. Consumers desire consistent coffee when they purchase from large corporations. To achieve this taste with a standard roast would be impossible. From year to year, and even cup to cup, the taste of the beans would change due to weather, location, and climate. Like wine, different years would taste better or worse than others. Corporations would find it impossible to make the beans taste similar for their consumers. Roasting the beans solves this issue. Since roasting removes the origin flavor and replaces the flavor with a smokey, charred taste, which is universal from batch to batch.
Think of it like bread. Fresh bread tastes different from region to region. Each country has it’s own unique taste. Each grain type has its own profile. Rye, corn, wheat, rice all produce drastically different bread. Burnt bread, however, tastes exactly the same no matter where you live. In fact, no matter how bad or good the original bread was or what grain the bread was made from, once burnt it all tastes the same. Trying to decipher which burnt bread tastes the best is a little silly. All dark roasted coffee is that burnt bread.
But I like Burnt Bread!
I do, too! I also like burnt coffee. Dark roasted coffee is excellent, and I really appreciate the consistent taste and flavors that expert roasters can bring out from their beans. However, I will admit, having tasted both light and dark roast, the flavor profiles in light coffee are far more pronounced than in dark roasted coffee. Regardless of our preference for either, it’s important that we don’t confuse the two. We would never call fresh bread and burnt bread the same thing, so let’s stop doing that for coffee.
Which is better?
Neither. No, seriously. They’re both awesome. There is amazing, awe inspiring, life changing coffee at every single roast. It’s about what YOU want.
Let’s get this straight. If you love your coffee dark as the night then all the power to you. There is some amazing coffee that’s really doing wonders with the dark, bold flavors that espresso, dark, and medium roasts offer. You can even check them out here.
If, you are put off by the ‘burnt’ undertone in your coffee, and you’re looking for something that is milder, gentler and features flavors. Then you’ll want to consider sourcing some light roasters and sampling some beans. Just remember, light roasted beans demand to be ground at home, right before brewing. Anything else would be sacrilege.
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