What Coffee Roast Tastes The Best (Complete Guide)

The coffee roast that tastes the best to you will depend on your own tastes and preferences. Many people enjoy the ‘classic’ taste of a rich, dark roasted coffee. But lighter roasted beans create a unique coffee with individual flavors and aromas, while medium roasted beans usually produce the sweetest drink. Experimenting with roast levels and different brewing methods is the most effective way to find out which type of roast you enjoy best.

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What Coffee Roast Tastes The Best (Complete Guide) - DarkHorseCoffeeCompany

Key Takeaways

  • Light, medium, and dark roast beans all offer distinct flavors and roast profiles
  • There is no standardized definition of light, medium, and dark roasts
  • Lighter roast beans preserve the flavor of the individual bean
  • Darker roast beans highlight a richer roast profile
  • Medium roast beans produce the smoothest and sweetest coffee
  • The best roast level for you will depend on your personal tastes

Table Of Contents

What Coffee Roast Tastes The Best

No coffee roast tastes universally better than all others. The level of roast that you prefer in your coffee will depend on your individual tastes, as well as the mood you’re in and the type of coffee you want to drink.

Light, medium, and dark roasted beans all offer unique flavor experiences. Lighter roasted beans typically highlight the flavor of the individual bean, while darker roasts emphasize the bean’s roast profile.

There’s no standardized definition of light, medium, and dark roast beans. This means that one brand of lightly roasted beans could be darker than another brand’s, and how individual roasters define these categories can vary.

The best way to find the roast level that tastes best to you is by experimenting with different types of beans. Try beans of different roast levels produced by different roasters, and use different brewing methods to see what combinations you enjoy.

what is the best roast for coffee dark beans

Light Roast

Light roast coffee beans are visually lighter in color than darker roasted beans, and they result in coffees with a light, crisp flavor and a mellow body. Light roasts also have the highest acidity of all roast levels. They’re roasted just until the ‘first crack’ of the bean.

Lightly roasted beans preserve the individual flavor of the bean more than darker roasted beans, which instead showcase the roast profile. If you want to try a coffee that explores the vast array of flavors that coffee beans can offer, lighter roasts may be a good choice for you.

However, some people may not enjoy light roasted coffee beans as much because of the mouthfeel and body of the coffee they produce. Light roasted beans produce a light-bodied drink that may feel more like tea than classic coffee.

Lighter roasted beans have increased in popularity in recent years because the quality of the light roast beans available has improved. It’s now possible to create a lightly roasted bean that still has a unique and complex flavor, as well as a richer mouthfeel.

Medium Roast

Medium roast coffee beans provide a middle ground, or a balance, between lighter roasts and darker roasts. They balance acidity with body to create coffees that showcase both the flavor of the bean as well as the depth of a slightly darker roast profile. Medium roasted beans are roasted somewhere between the first and second crack.

Medium roast beans also typically produce the sweetest cups of coffee. When coffee beans are medium roasted, the natural sugars in the beans have enough time to develop without burning or becoming bitter. In the US in 2020, 51% of consumers bought medium roast beans, making medium roast the most popular roast level in the US at the time. 

Medium roast beans are popular because they’re less intense than light roast beans, but they don’t completely lose the individual aromas and flavors of the natural coffee bean. Their rounded flavor profile makes medium roasted beans a versatile choice for lots of different types of coffee.

Medium-Dark Roast

Medium-dark roasted beans are another middle ground bean. They’re roasted for just a few minutes longer than a medium roasted bean, usually until the second crack. This stage indicates that the coffee is fully developed.

Medium-dark roasted beans have less acidity than light and medium roasted beans, and a deeper, more complex roast profile. They serve as an introduction to the fuller-bodied flavors usually found in darker roasted beans, but they offer more of the bean’s original flavor than dark roasted beans.

Medium-dark roast beans are a good choice for people who enjoy the deeper roast profile of dark roasted beans but miss the variety of flavors and aromas that can be found in lighter roast profiles.

Dark Roast

Dark roasted beans are roasted for longer than light, medium, and medium-dark beans. They’re almost always roasted past the second crack of the bean. This results in quite an oily bean with low acidity levels and deep, dark flavors.

The flavors of a dark roast coffee bean are down, mostly, to the roast profile of the bean. Darkly roasted beans aren’t left with many of their original characteristics, but different beans can still create unique flavor profiles when roasted to this level.

Darkly roasted beans tend to create coffees with nutty, caramel, and chocolate flavors. Coffees prepared with dark roasted beans are richer in flavor than light roasted beans. This is one reason why dark roasted beans are usually recommended for cold brewing, a process that typically results in a more mellow, sweeter coffee.

Dark roasting also creates beans that are more uniform than light roasting, since more of the bean’s original flavor is lost in the roasting process. The difference between the flavors of two different dark roasted beans will usually be much smaller than the difference in flavors between two lightly roasted beans.

What Roast Coffee Has The Most Flavor?

Lighter roast coffee beans offer the most unique and diverse flavors among all roasts. Lighter roast beans are roasted for less time than darker roast beans, which preserves the individual flavor of the bean. The difference in taste between different types of light roast beans can be significant.

Light roast beans will have more flavors that are fruity, herbal, or floral. They often offer the most interesting and fresh aromas. But the downside of light roast beans is that they result in coffees that do not taste as rich as full-bodied as those made with dark roast beans.

Most of the individual flavors of dark roast beans are roasted away during the longer roasting process, but dark roast coffees still offer a rich depth of flavor. This flavor comes from the roast profile rather than the bean itself. If you want to balance flavor with body, medium roast beans may be a good fit.

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Which Coffee Roast Is The Smoothest?

Medium roast beans offer the smoothest roast profile of all beans. They’re less acidic than light roast beans, but they also have a fuller body more akin to that of dark roast beans. This results in a smooth overall tasting experience. Medium roast coffee beans make a well-rounded coffee that’s enjoyable for many people.

Medium roast coffee beans also create a coffee with enough depth that you’ll be able to dilute your coffee with milk to create a creamier drink. While dark roast beans have a fuller body, their bitterness means they’re not usually considered the smoothest coffee bean.

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What Roast Is Least Bitter?

Light roasted coffee beans are least bitter, while dark roasted beans are the most bitter coffee beans. Light roasted beans have a higher acidity level, but they’re not roasted for long enough to bring out the bitterness that’s found in dark roasted beans.

As usual, medium roast beans are a happy middle-ground. If you prefer the depth of flavor of a darker roast profile but dislike the bitterness of dark roast beans, medium beans may offer a balance that you enjoy.

As well as opting for a lighter roast, you could reduce the bitterness in your coffee by selecting beans that are known for being less bitter. Arabica beans are less bitter than robusta beans whilst also having a stronger flavor.

Adding fats to your coffee can also help to reduce its bitter taste. Milk, cream, and other types of creamer can mollify the bitter flavors in darker roast coffee beans and balance the flavors in your cup of coffee.

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Which Coffee Roast Is Sweeter?

Medium roast beans generally create the sweetest tasting coffees. However, some light roast beans and dark roast beans can also contain a lot of natural sweetness.

Medium roast coffee beans are usually roasted for long enough that the natural sugars present in the bean have time to caramelize. This results in a cup of coffee that’s sweeter and nuttier tasting.

On the other hand, light roast beans aren’t roasted for long enough to render the sugars in the beans, and dark roast beans burn most of the sugars present. However, some beans are naturally sweeter than others, and if you want to brew a particularly sweet cup of coffee it’s important to choose beans that contain this natural sweetness.

Likewise, while medium roast beans are, on average, sweeter than light and dark roast beans, not all medium roast beans are sweet at all. Medium roast beans that originate in Africa and Hawaii and processed naturally are often sweeter than other medium roast beans.

map origin of best roast for coffee

What's The Best Kind Of Coffee Roast For You?

The best kind of coffee roast for you will depend mostly on your personal taste. Other factors that impact what kind of coffee roast you should use include the way you choose to brew your coffee and the time of day you’re drinking coffee at.

Many people enjoy the flavor of dark roast coffee, primarily because it’s what most people think of as the ‘classic’ bitter coffee taste. But if you want more complex flavors or a sweeter drink, light or medium roast beans may be a better choice for you.

The method you use to brew your coffee will also make a difference. The French Press brewing method typically works better with light or medium roast coffee beans, while espresso and cold brew methods are said to taste better when using dark roast beans. However, even in these cases, your own tastes will come into play too.

Finally, the time of day you’re enjoying your coffee at will also affect the type of roast that you want to use. The purpose of your coffee - and how you’re going to drink it - will decide the type of roast you’ll choose for each cup.

If you want to brew a strong, full-bodied coffee to wake you up in the morning, a dark roast may be better. If you want to relax with a fruity cup of coffee on an evening, you might consider a lighter roast. And if you want to make a sweet iced coffee on a hot summer’s day, medium roast beans could be the best choice.

There’s a chance you’ll also choose your coffee beans on the basis of which roast level is healthiest. Light roast coffee beans have been found to have a higher number of antioxidants (88.72 mg TE/g) than dark roast coffee beans. These antioxidants could assist your body in protecting its cells from free radicals.

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Frequently Asked Questions About What Coffee Roast Tastes The Best

Dark roast coffees are sometimes considered the best because they offer more depth of flavor and richness when compared to lighter roasts. But different roast levels result in different flavor profiles, and the type of coffee roast that you enjoy most will always depend on your personal tastes.

Medium roast coffee beans usually produce the smoothest tasting coffee. They lack the acidity levels of lighter roast coffee beans, while also having the body and mouthfeel to create a full tasting cup of coffee. The result is a well-rounded drink with a balance between body and acidity.

The best kind of coffee roast for you depends largely on your own personal tastes and preferences. If you enjoy the classic, bitter taste of coffee, you may prefer dark roast coffee. If you want a sweeter coffee, medium roast beans are a good choice, while light roast beans will showcase the unique flavors and aromas of your coffee beans best.

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