Levels of Roast

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Different coffees require different levels of roast to bring out their best flavour and character. Every coffee roaster has its own favourite style of roast, but in general American and British roasts rend towards medium roasts, while Continental Europeans are more inclined to darker roasts.

Roasts can be summarised as:

  • Light Medium Roast: Brazilian coffee is roasted especially light to bring a smooth, gentle character out of a naturally lighter coffee bean. Ethiopian Mocha, also, needs a light roast, despite its strong taste and solid character; a French roast results in too much sourness and a sharp taste.
  • Full Medium Roast: Kenya coffee develops flavour and piquancy as its beans' natural acidity reacts to roasting, but a higher roasting would make it bitter and a lighter roasting flavourless. Several Central American coffees are medium roast - Costa Rica and Honduras, which both have a delicious balance of all the best characteristics. Other Central American coffees benefit from a darker, French roast.
  • French Roast: Some Central American and Indonesian coffees benefit from a darker French roast, because a medium roast gives a weak coffee, whereas a richer coffee taste emerges as some of their beans acidity is suppressed in the roast. Guatemala Maragogype and Nicaragua coffee beans also like a French roast.
  • Light Continental Roast: these are roast that a beginning to be higher roast coffees. The slight burning of the bean as it turns from dark brown to near high roast brings out a richer, darker flavour which is smooth but not strong. A blend of Santos and Java reacts well to a light Continental roast - the strength of the Brazilian bean is tempered by the smoothness of the Indonesian. Aged coffees like Monsoon Malabar can also be roasted to a light continental roast, keeping their smoothness without losing too much flavour.
  • Full Continental Roast or Espresso Roast: the bean's acidity is completely suppressed and replaced by a powerful and almost bitter character. Only a few coffee beans can withstand the heat and still be enjoyable, mainly Central American beans. Only pure Arabica coffee should be used for Espresso, because cheap Arabica and Robusta taste just like they are cheap and low quality, however some argue otherwise.

The next stage is grinding.