Light vs Dark Roast - what does it all mean?

Probably the most common question we get around here is what’s the real difference between a light and a dark roasted coffee?  Everyone has their preference on what they like to drink, including us – and we will tell you why we think our roast is the best.

The coffee roasting process is probably the most important influence on the flavor of the coffee that you are drinking. The roast level of coffee is primarily a function of the time of the roast, and the temperature achieved through the roast.  In general terms, a lighter roast will highlight some of the more natural flavors of the coffee from the region and growing conditions of the bean (kinda like the different profiles you find in wine). A darker roast you are starting to taste more of the product of the actual roast process (bolder, full-bodied flavors).

To get more detailed on it, here is some more information:


Light Roast

Light Roast coffee is identified by the light brown (sometimes yellowish if very light) colored bodies. This coffee is roasted usually somewhere between 350 and 410 degrees (Fahrenheit). That cracking sound you hear when the temperature hits somewhere in that range? That’s called the “first crack” and means the coffee is roasted enough to be drinkable at this point. Up unto that point, not enough moisture has been drawn from the bean to make a drinkable coffee product.

As said earlier, a lighter roasted coffee will highlight more of the geographic origin and natural flavors of the coffee. This means a more acidic, sometimes sour coffee, with hints of earthy or grassy flavors.  Think of coffee like fine wine – the region it was grown has a huge impact on the flavor of the coffee.

You will find other roasters referring to a light roast as a light city or cinnamon roast.


Medium Roast 

Medium Roast coffee can be identified by the slightly darker than light roast, but not approaching black, color of the bean. This is the point where coffee begins to take on the flavor profile of the roasting process itself, or the carbonization of the bean. It is common at this point to start tasting hints of flavor such as dark chocolate and caramel, though still retaining some of the acidic flavors of a light roast. In other words, the flavor profile of a medium roast is much more balanced than a light roast coffee.

This coffee is usually roasted somewhere between 410 and 440 degrees.  Other coffee roasters will refer to this as an American Roast or City Roast.


Dark Roast

Dark Roast coffee can be identified by the dark brown, sometimes approaching black color of the bean. Often a light layer of oil is coating the bean. Dark Roasted coffee is usually achieved at a temperature of 440 to 465 degrees. At 440 degrees you will hear another cracking sound (sounds like a campfire) – this is known as the second crack, and means you are approaching the level of a dark roast, and any further than this risks drinking burnt coffee.

At the dark roast level, you are almost entirely tasting the product of the roasting process. There will be close to no acidity here, and sometimes the coffee will tase bitter.  Coffee roasted very dark, will taste like charcoal.

Other roasters might refer to a dark roast as a French, Italian or Spanish Roast.


So where does Piggies Coffee stand on this?

Here at Piggies, we roast our coffee somewhere between a medium and a dark roast. We like a low acidity coffee, so we don’t roast too light, but we also don’t like burnt coffee. We roast our coffee just before or at the “second crack” – ensuring that the coffee is never burnt. Also, the Colombian coffee we choose to roast has unique flavor profiles where we can still pick out some of the natural origins of the coffee.

To sum it up, here at Piggies we developed a roast profile, and picked a specific coffee bean to give you the perfect cup of coffee.

Don’t forget! Any time you buy our coffee or gear, you are helping to support and fuel America’s First Responders – cops and hose draggers too! Piggies Coffee is a police owned coffee roaster, and a portion of all proceeds goes to helping our first responder community!

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