Types of Coffee Roasts

Whether used as an early morning pick-me-up or paired with a late-night dessert, there isn't a more universally loved hot beverage than coffee. In fact, one study found that 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink at least one cup every day. Therefore, when choosing to serve coffee at your establishment or event, it is important to know the different aspects that make up a good cup, from the beans chosen to the roast level! 

The Different Coffee Roasts

Coffee roasting is a heating process that brings out the aroma and flavor locked inside a green coffee seed, which has a mild, grassy taste on its own, and turns the beans brown. The flavor profile of a bean's roast level will depend on the varietal and geographic location of that bean as well as the roasting method.
Light roast whole coffee beans

Light Roast

Color: Light brown

Oil on Surface: No

Flavor profile: Toasted grain with pronounced acidity

Amount of Caffeine per Scoop: High

Internal Temperature Of Beans At Roasting Peak: Approx. 400°F

Medium roast whole coffee beans

Medium Roast

Color: Brown

Oil on Surface: No

Flavor profile: Balanced flavor, aroma, and acidity

Amount of Caffeine per Scoop: Medium

Internal Temperature Of Beans At Roasting Peak: Approx. 420°F

Dark roast whole coffee beans

Dark Roast

Color: Dark Brown

Oil on Surface: Some

Flavor profile: Heavy, full body flavor with small taste of spice

Amount of Caffeine per Scoop: Low

Internal Temperature Of Beans At Roasting Peak: Approx. 445°F

Extra dark roast whole coffee beans

Extra Dark Roast

Color: Black

Oil on Surface: Yes

Flavor profile: Bitter, smoky, or burnt taste

Amount of Caffeine per Scoop: Very low

Internal Temperature Of Beans At Roasting Peak: Approx. 475°F  

 

Whole Bean vs. Ground Coffee

In addition to choosing which roasts you will serve customers, it is also important to decide whether you will purchase whole bean coffee or pre-ground coffee. How often will you be serving coffee, do you have the proper equipment on-hand, and how much time you have are all factors that will affect your decision.
Barista pouring whole bean coffee into a commercial coffee grinder

Purchasing whole bean coffee is an excellent choice for operators looking to improve their coffee service and it is best to use when brewing with an espresso machine, pourover, or French press. 

Pros
  • Produces a fresher product with a more pronounced flavor and aroma
  • Can control the grind size
Cons
  • Requires grinding equipment
  • Takes more time to brew
  • Takes more skill and knowledge to produce the right grind size
Barista putting pre-ground coffee into an automatic coffee brewer

Pre-ground coffee is a convenient, time-saving choice for high-volume operators using drip brewers in their establishments.

Pros
  • Produces a more consistent flavor
  • Less labor intensive and easy to prepare
  • Typically more accessible
Cons
  • Predetermined grind size limits the brewing options
  • Flavor and aroma is not as potent and complex as fresh-ground coffee
  • Can spoil more easily and more quickly than whole beans
Expert Tip



To preserve the flavor of your unused coffee, store in an airtight container at room temperature away from light, heat, and moisture.

Types of Coffee Beans

There are two basic types of coffee bean species that are grown commercially throughout the world: Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta, which differ due to their growing environments, overall flavor, and price. It's helpful to understand the difference between these types of coffee beans when choosing your coffee since their tastes can vary significantly.

Arabica

When roasted, Arabica beans provide a sweet, yet soft taste with low acidity levels. These types of coffee beans needs a cool, subtropical climate where lots of sun, rich soil, and moisture are present, as a location in a high elevation. Since Arabica beans are difficult to grow and cultivate, they are more expensive compared to Robusta beans, and have a higher cost of production. Most Arabica beans are grown in Africa and Latin America.

Robusta

Robusta coffee is considered the more inferior choice compared to Arabica since it yields a strong, bitter, and harsh taste when roasted. Robusta beans contain twice as much caffeine as Arabica, and therefore are less vulnerable to diseases and pests since caffeine acts as a natural insecticide in the plant. Robusta beans can also stand up to harsher growing environments and lower altitudes, making it cheaper to produce and sell. Due to its low cost, most instant and ground coffee blends sold in grocery stores are made from Robusta beans.

Source: Types of Coffee Beans: Roasts, Arabica vs Robusta, & More (webstaurantstore.com)
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