Coffee Roasting 101

Coffee Roasting 101

Coffee Roasting 101


Light roasts lack the oil of the darker roasts and have a light brown or tan color. They are definitely the brightest of the three roast levels and have the highest acidity. The lighter roast will have a very pronounced acidity a grainy taste and much more caffeine. Additionally, the bean’s distinct flavor profile would be left intact much greater than that of a dark roasted bean.

When roasting a light bean,  you do not go past the first crack which occurs around 205°C. This crack refers to the beans popping and cracking as they expand in size. If you have ever heard the terms Light City, Cinnamon Roast, these are definitely light roast coffees.

 Grab a jar of our Light Roast  Ethiopia Mormora Guji and try it yourself. 

roasted coffee beans


If you like a little bit more body in your coffee, then you will like the medium roasted coffee. At Browndog Coffee Roasters, these would be Guatemala - Antigua, Colombia At Tehaleh, and Colombia Cocaine 4 Project to name a few. The beans should not have oil on the bean surfaces much like the light roasts but they are not grainy like the lighter roasts. Additionally, they have a much more balanced acidity, flavor, and aroma. Because these beans are roasted longer, there is less acidity than in the lighter roasts.

Medium roast coffees are cooled just before the start of the second crack, usually with an internal temperature right around 210°C to 220°C.

Next time you’re in the supermarket and see the names Regular Roast, City Roast, Breakfast Blend, these names usually describe a medium roasted coffee.

Roasted coffee - Specialty Coffee - Medium Roast - Brown dog roasting



With these roasts, you will see a small amount of oil on the surface. Additionally, the body is much heavier than the lighter roasts. You will start to see mahogany colors develop.  When we roast our medium-dark blends or single-origin coffees, we roast them to the beginning or middle of the second crack. Depending on various factors this can occur around 225°C to 230°C. When you walk into a coffee shop and you can really smell the coffee roasting, it’s probably a medium-dark coffee or above. Common names for this profile are Vienna Roast and Full City Roast.  Here at Browndog Coffee Roasters our Brazil - Salmo Plus and Colombia 12 Espresso are our Medium Dark Roast. 

Brown Dog Roasting - Fresh Roasted coffee - Specialty Coffee 


If you see coffee beans that are almost black or chocolate in color they are most likely dark roasts. There are a couple of exceptions to this, but 99% of the time this is true. These coffees will leave a sheen of oil on the surface of your coffee cup and you will taste more of the roast profile than that of the inherent varietal taste. At this point, you will notice carbonized notes along with bitter and smoky overtones. The amount of caffeine is dramatically decreased. When we roast our dark coffees, we strive for a bean temperature of 240°C up to about 245°C.  You have to remember that at this point the coffee begins to taste like that of charcoal or carbon and Browndog Coffee doesn’t roast beans quite this point. Dark roasts have the most confusing names but some of the more popular are French Roast, Vienna Roast, and Spanish roast. The term Espresso Roast is misused in this category as espresso is not a roast profile.


Here are some points to take away from this quick roasting guide:

  • The more you roast a coffee bean, the more you taste the roast profile and less of the actual coffee.

  • If you like a full-bodied coffee, stick to the medium roast coffees, because after the second crack the body begins to get thin.

  • Lighter roasts will always be more acidic than darker roasts and also have more caffeine than darker roasts.

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