There has always been some huge debate surrounding medium roast and dark roast coffees, and many people still find them difficult to differentiate. Most coffee drinkers would prefer drinking these roast levels, but again, not many understand their nuances.
When it comes to enjoying the nuances of specialty coffee, the roast level of these coffees play a huge role. Dark roasts are coffees that are roasted much longer and sometimes at higher temperatures.
This causes the coffee to lose most of its acidity, giving your cup a bolder taste. But with that, you also remove the delicate notes of your coffees, unlike in medium roasts, where you can have the perfect balance of acidity, intricate flavors, and boldness.
The best way to learn about the differences between these roast levels is by expanding your tasting palate and trying different specialty coffees. This way, you'll get to pinpoint unique flavors that you get from medium roasts that you'd otherwise miss with dark roast coffees.
Coffee Roasting and How It Shapes the Flavors of Your Coffee
Coffee roasting is one of the major steps in the whole coffee cycle. Here, the roaster is tasked with bringing out the flavors of each coffee and to ensure that they create a roast profile that will translate well in each cup.
The first stage of coffee roasting is when the roaster "charges" the green coffee into a hot roaster. During this stage, the green coffee starts to absorb the heat and will take time before chemical and physical changes occur.
Moving forward to the second stage, you'll notice that the coffee will change from green to yellow, which is the drying stage, to a tan color. During this part, the beans go through a Maillard reaction and caramelization, giving off a sweeter and savory aroma.
As the roaster gets hotter and the beans absorb more heat, the roaster must slowly decrease the temperature as it reaches the first crack. At this point, you'll start hearing "popcorn"-like popping sounds as the beans puff up and release gases. This part usually signals that your roasts are at the light roast spectrum.
The time between the first crack and second crack is crucial because at this time, the coffee flavor changes quickly in a short period, even for a few seconds. With that, when you release your beans shortly after the first crack and before the second crack, you'll have a medium roast coffee.
When you reach the second crack, your coffee will pop again, releasing more oils and burning more of its delicate flavors, giving you dark-roast coffee.
Taste Profiles of Medium and Dark Roast Coffees
You'll notice that the biggest difference between medium and dark roast coffees is their flavors. Medium roast coffees retain the coffee bean's acidity and distinct flavor notes. This is why this style of roasting, along with light roast profiles, is often found in specialty coffee, which is high-grade, single-origin coffee.
Meanwhile, dark roast coffee gives you a bolder cup with less acidity. The great thing about dark roast coffee is that you can stretch its flavor when mixing it with milk. With this characteristic, espresso-based coffees often have medium to dark or dark roast profiles, so you can enjoy the perfect balance of flavors in a cappuccino, cortado, or flat white.
The Last Sip: Coffee is Extremely Preferential, So Choose The Flavor Profile That Suits You
There is no "which is better?" between medium and dark roast coffees because, in the end, it all boils down to what type of flavors you're looking for in each cup. To properly understand their nuances, it's best to try medium roast and dark roast coffee from specialty coffee roasters to ensure that you'll have a unique experience for each roast profile.
You should try our roaster sample box if you wish to go on a coffee journey across the world with four distinct single origin coffees. Four, 4oz bags of our finest single origin coffees are included in this bundle. Depending on our menu options, these sample bundles may change seasonally.
Each coffee has a distinct roast style that brings out unique qualities in the beans that we aim to emphasize in each cup.
Where Can I Find Specialty Coffee?
The world of coffee is so diverse and interesting and learning how to taste and appreciate specialty coffee is a great way to elevate your coffee experience.
Kunjani is a women-owned coffee shop and roastery that values sustainability efforts, consistency on roasting, and ethical practices from sourcing to roasting. If you're looking for specialty coffee beans, check out Kunjani and sign up for a coffee subscription today!