What Do Different Roasts Look Like?

Tips on how to choose a roast:

The first option you are given in our roast selection panel is: “Best Roast”.  This is the choice to make if you want the roastmaster to give you the roast he would choose for himself if he were ordering this coffee today.  We painstakingly optimize a roast profile for each lot of individual coffee we receive.  In general, we find the Indonesian coffees develop their fullest flavor with a Viennese roast, plus or minus a half step.  Latin American coffees more often shine clear and bright when roasted near Full City.  Africans are superb throughout this midrange, some crops wanting a deeper roast than others.

In short – you are welcome to specify your roast and we will try to give you exactly what you ask for, but you might be pleasantly surprised by the exotic nature of a familiar coffee when roasted to our roastmaster’s idea of “perfection”.

If you wish to choose the roast yourself, here are some tips.  In spite of my use of the phrase above, there is of course no absolute “best roast” for any given coffee. It depends entirely on personal preference. It is true that some coffees have a more generous and forgiving nature… that is, their full range of aromatic and flavor expression is developed over a wider range of roast degrees. It is our opinion that all of our fine arabica beans develop their best character in the range of the Full City to Vienna roasts. A few individuals might insist on the high, bright, snappy sensation of the Light City roast, but we feel you will capture most of these qualities with the Full City, and benefit greatly from the fuller body and enhanced mellow tones. At the dark end, Vienna and French are popular choices for use in espresso machines. If you like to add flavored syrups and frothed milk, you may enjoy the strong burnt overtones of the Italian roast.

Some of the Mega-Gourmet roasters have romanticized the “dark roasts”, but too often the subtle fruity, nutty, spicy or chocolaty nuances are masked by the intrusion of carbon in the darker roasts. Our suggestion? Start near the center of the chart, then experiment one roast up or down until you find the perfect cup. Don’t be surprised if it is not the same roast from one coffee variety to another.

Light City
Full City

I’d like to credit I Need Coffee for the photos of the roasted bean samples shown above. Keep in mind that every coffee roasts differently and develops its best qualities when roasted to an endpoint determined by the caramelization degree and NOT by color alone. Never-the-less these photos give you an idea of what each roast will look like.

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