There are many
terms for different roast levels. Here are some of the basic ones:
Ripe Coffee Cherrys
Cinnamon: Light Brown – Typically tastes sour.
Used in inexpensive commercial blends. Beans have a dry surface.
Has nothing to do with the spice, therefore a lot of roasteries
are hesitant to use this term. These beans were roasted to just
a bit after the beginning of "first crack"
or “City”: Medium Brown – Fully
developed flavor, bright acidity, characteristics of original green
coffee beans are apparent. Beans have a dry surface. These beans
were roasted to end of first crack. Second crack had just begun.
This style roast
is ideal for drip or press-pot brewers. Lighter roasts such as this
tend to carry brightness into the cup. If used for brewing as espresso,
this brightness would tend to become bitter tasting instead.
or “Full City”; Medium Dark Brown –
Sweetness and body of the coffee become more apparent. This is the
norm for Northern Italian-style espresso. Beans are dry with shiny
patches of oils emerging from within.
Espresso; Very Dark Brown – Typically used by
West or Southwest roasters. Mild in acidity (brightness). Bittersweet
tones dominate. This is considered the norm for American-style espresso.
Beans have a shiny surface.
French roasts are actually quite similar, so only one image is shown
Very Dark Brown - Low to no acidity, somewhat bittersweet with muted
but clear characteristics of the original green coffee. When roasting
beans for espresso, it is desirable to choose beans with low acidity.
Typically (but not always!) high-grown (Sumatran, Sidamo) and/or dry-processed
(Brazil Santos, Ethiopian Harrar) beans are considered good origins
for creating blends because they are low-acidic and heavy body (heavy
bodied coffees hold better at darker roasts). Note the very shiny
surface of these beans as the internal oils have migrated to the bean
exterior. Roasted to near end of second crack.
All individual characters of the green coffee are gone. Charred or
burned notes dominate. Very thin body with flavor reduced to faint
sweet tones. This image is actually more of a "Dark Italian"
roast because there is still a large presence of oils on the beans.
If these beans would have been roasted just a bit more, the shine
on them would have become much duller in appearance as the oils evaperated.
These beans were barely poppin' anymore - 2nd crack was pretty much