The difference between light, medium and dark roasts

Author: Bliss Coffee Roasters  Date Posted:24 November 2020 

Twenty, or even just 10 years ago, there wasn’t much difference between coffee bean roast profiles. Medium and dark roasts were really, very similar. Even light roasts were not very light by today’s standards.




Over the years, consumer tastes and coffee roasting has changed significantly. Coffee profiles are more widely varied than ever before, which makes it more important than ever to understand the differences between the roast profiles, so you can find the one just right for you. 



Light Roasts: Light roast coffees typically stay fairly true to their original flavours. Since these beans aren’t roasted for quite so long, the original organic compounds and chemical makeup of the bean don’t have as much time to dissipate during the roasting process. The very lightest roasts will taste a bit like nuts, grains, or seeds. The slightly more deeply-coloured light roast varieties will have hints of different fruits, spices, and even brown sugar. 



Medium Roasts: Medium roast coffees still boast some of the original organic qualities of the coffee beans but the flavours aren’t quite as obvious. With these roasts, the acidity levels tend to smooth over a bit, cutting through some of the original fruity or sweet tastes of light roasts. Medium roasts tend to bring out other flavours like chocolates, caramel, honey, or roasted fruits. Along with medium-dark, these tend to be the most popular roasts in Australia. 



Medium Dark Roasts: Medium dark roast coffees have a bit more bitterness and start to introduce some of the smokier flavoursThey’re a little oilier on the surface of the bean and tend to pick up tastes more along the lines of vanilla, bourbon, pipe tobacco or raw cacao. These coffees will usually leave a slightly bittersweet aftertaste. 



Dark Roasts: Dark roast coffees can be a bit more robust, but the flavour is often fairly bitter. As described above, the beans lose acidity the longer (darker) they’re roasted so most of the natural flavours of the beans can be lost entirely in many dark roasts. This yields itself to a more purely coffee taste with a lot of the defining characteristics dealing specifically with particular levels of roasting. For example, you might compare the flavours of dark coffees on a range from rye bread to cigar smoke to ash or carbon. 



At Bliss Coffee Roasters, our Blends all fall into the medium and medium-dark roast profiles, whilst most of our single origins are light or a very light-medium. 



Our The Traveller and The Film-maker blends are a medium roast that allows for a full body, but delicate flavours of spice and sweet caramels. The Treehouse is a little darker, and with beans from different origins highlights more nutty and chocolatey flavours. The Artist is a modern medium-dark roast. Darker in appearance and a little oily on the surface, producing a strong, caramelly espresso. Our The Zookeeper blend is our strongest and darkest roast. Even though it is our darkest roast, it is still much lighter than ‘dark roasts’ of the past. The Zookeeper retains some sweetness with its very low acidity and intense coffee flavours. Rocket fuel is a careful balance of a very light roast, combined with a dark roast. The resulting flavour is that of a medium roast, the strength and flavour of traditional espresso coffee but without the bitterness. Finally, our The Percussionist is also a medium- dark roast, but roasted in a different style (pre-blended). This produces a more traditional, southern Italian style espresso – earthy and full-bodied. 



Most of our single origin beans are roasted light, to preserve and highlight the unique flavours of that particular region, farm or co-operative.  



Coffee has changed significantly over the years and continues to do so. Whatever your taste, you’re sure to find a roast profile and blend just right for you. 

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