Coffee Roast Levels for your custom coffee roasted to order
Believe it or not, coffee roast levels have formal names. There are many coffee roasts with names like Cinnamon (no cinnamon actually used), City Roast, and the more well-known French Roast. Coffee roast levels will have slightly different names depending on the source you find. In our own coffees, we use two different coffee names that most closely represent our roasts. There are plenty more names of roasts out there depending on your source. Below is our interpretation of coffee roast levels, so if you see something different someplace don’t fret. The National Coffee Associations offers some information on coffee roast levels, too.
Green Beans: (We offer all of our coffees unroasted in addition to our standard roast levels.) This isn’t technically a roast level but the lack of being roasted at all. These are unroasted beans and can be stored for up to two years. If you want to try your hand with roasting at home, this is what you will want to purchase. We would love to help you learn to roast at home! Roasting custom coffee at home was still common practice into the beginning of the 20th century until big commercial roasters came along. Roasting at home is enjoying a revival in popularity today as Americans’ collective taste palate and desire to learn grows.
Cinnamon Roast: Don’t worry, there isn’t any actual cinnamon in this coffee roast level. This is the lightest roast level. It looks light brown in color, and it has toasted grain flavors with sharp acidity. The lighter the roast, the higher the acidity. Roasting beans lowers acidity so they go down in acidity as the beans are roasted longer and deeper. With this coffee roast level, your coffee retains all of its origin character. That is, the distinctive flavors that are special to your coffee due to where it comes from will all be retained. At higher coffee roast levels, the roast character will start to eclipse the origin flavors.
Pilsner Roast: (This is one of our standard 4 roast levels.) This coffee roast level makes for moderate light brown beans. This is also a roast in the ‘light’ category. This level is popular among many specialty coffees makers because it creates a slightly fuller-bodied coffee than a cinnamon roast, but still retains all of the origin flavors. That is, the distinctive flavors that are special to the region the coffee is grown in will all be retained. Additionally, this coffee roast level starts to produce some subtle roasty notes.
American Roast: (This is one of our standard 4 roast levels) This coffee roast level is at the bottom end of the ‘medium’ roast spectrum. All of the coffee’s origin varietal character is retained while still offering darker flavors. This is one of our personal favorite roast levels.
City Roast: This coffee roast level is at the higher end of the ‘medium’ roast levels. The beans at this roast level are medium in color. Most of the origin and varietal flavor is retained at this level but the roast character starts to become prominent. This roast level is used by a lot of roasters as it hits squarely on providing the roast flavors people love while still expressing its origin character.
Full City Roast: Yes, that is right, this is FULL city roast:). This roast level makes the jump into the bottom end of full-dark roasts with medium dark beans and occasional oily sheen. The roasty flavors become prominent in this coffee roast level
Vienna Roast (City + Roast): (This is one of our standard 4 roasting levels.) Of the coffee roasting levels, Vienna is medium dark brown with some surface oil sheen. The origin character with this roast level is almost completely gone. In its place you start getting more bittersweet caramel flavors. The acidity at this level also becomes much lower. This roast level just elicits visions of sitting in Vienna on a cool mountain morning with a steaming cup of coffee in a china saucer along with pastries and morning sweets.
French Roast: (This is the darkest of our standard 4 roast levels.) Dark brown coffee beans with shiny surface oils marks this coffee roasting level. At this roast level, all of the origin and varietal character of a coffee is gone and replaced by low acidity and burnt over tones. Of course, if that was an absolute bad thing, it wouldn’t be one of the most well-known roast levels! We do love a rich, dark cup of coffee, but we don’t like going further that this when doing custom roasts for you.
Italian Roast: Very dark brown beans and shiny with surface oils marks the Italian coffee roast level. While it seems that this would make a fuller bodied coffee, it is just the opposite. This roast level has very low acidity, has distinct burnt tones, and a rather thin body. However, this roast level also wouldn’t be famous if it wasn’t loved around the world. The best roast level for you is the roast level you love the most!
Spanish Roast: You may not have heard of this roast level as often as French or Italian. At this level, the beans are nearly black and very shiny. This roast level makes for a very thin bodied coffee marked by notes of tar and charcoal. As a matter of fact, when roasting beans, this level is just short of catching fire. Now that is NOT what we mean when we say we like a hot cup of coffee!