A recent survey found that nearly 73% of people drink coffee every day. Despite the popularity of the hot beverage, there is still a lot of variation in the people who drink coffee.

Some people don’t care about the taste and only want the caffeine rush that comes with cheap brands. Others crave the many different flavor profiles that come with the coffee beans. If you fall in the latter group, then it’s important to know about coffee roast levels.

Why? Because it can drastically change both the taste and use of your coffee bean. In this guide, we’ll give a quick breakdown so you can start finding your ideal roast level today.

Why Does Coffee Need to Be Roasted?

Many people don’t know that coffee in its raw form is green. What’s more, it also has none of the characteristics we would typically associate with the coffee we drink daily.

Not only are green coffee beans soft to the touch, but they also taste and smell a bit like grass. Roasting on high heat is necessary to get all of this unnecessary bean moisture out of the coffee bean.

As chemical changes cause it to turn dark its flavor profile is also changed. The natural flavors and aromas we associate with coffee begin to arise when roasted.

However, it’s important to note that once coffee beans are roasted their flavor gradually begins to diminish. That’s why most manufacturers will store the coffee beans while they’re green until they’re ready to roast.

What Are the Three Coffee Roast Levels?

Coffee roasts can be a spectrum of different levels. However, for the sake of simplicity, we’ve broken them down into three levels: light, medium, and dark.

In this section, we’ll go over the flavor characteristics of each of them and what you should consider using them for.


A coffee is considered a light roast when it’s roasted between 355 to 400°F. Because it’s roasted at a relatively low temperature it’s much lighter in color than medium and dark roasts.

Light roasts highlight the natural taste of the coffee bean’s point of origin. Because there’s less time to develop a roasted flavor, you get a clearer, bright, and acidic flavor profile.

In some cases, you might notice hints of citrus and teas in the light coffee roasts. We recommend light roasts for pour-over coffee. Avoid using light roasts for espresso as it will be both too acidic and lack the characteristic crema.


A coffee is considered a medium roast when it reaches a roast temperature between 410 to 428°F. As you can guess, this type of roast is the most balanced of the three.

You do lose a bit of the brightness that you might get from a light roast profile. However, you also lose some of the acidity which can make it easier on people’s stomachs.

If you buy a coffee in the United States, you’re most likely to encounter a medium roast coffee. You can’t go wrong with using this type of bean in a classic drip coffee machine.


A coffee is considered a medium roast when it’s roasted between 465 to 482°F. In addition to the near-black color, dark roasts contain the least acidity of the three.

The heavier roasting process can often bring out notes of tobacco and chocolate. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying dark roast in a cup of coffee, we highly recommend using it in espressos, lattes, and anything that requires fine coffee grinds.

Because these drinks tend to be more intense they benefit from the low acidity levels and robust flavors found in a dark roast.

How Does Roasting Affect Caffeine Content?

Lighter roasts do tend to have a bit more caffeine in them than darker roasts. However, it’s important to note that this difference can often be minimal.

Because dark roasts have more water-soluble properties it’s a bit more likely that the caffeine will end up in your drink.

However, remember that different coffee beans contain different caffeine amounts. So if you want caffeine pay closer attention to the specific bean instead of the roast.

Which Roast Level Is Right for You?

Remember that the roasting level is all about personal preference. If you aren’t sure what you like, we recommend starting with medium.

If you appreciate bright, bold flavors from your coffee, give light roasts a shot. Or if you’re making a concentrated coffee drink opt for a darker roast.

How Do You Roast Coffee?

You might be interested in roasting your coffee at home if you have access to raw beans. So how hard is this? The truth is that you don’t necessarily need any special equipment to do this.

All you need to do is put the coffee beans in a skillet and roast them over a low flame until they get to the level you want them at. However, there’s a major problem with this method.

There are a variety of factors that can influence how your coffee is roasted. Some of these include the heat level, the amount of agitation in the skillet, and the airflow. When you roast coffee over a skillet it’s impossible to control all of these factors.

As such, you’re going to lack a lot of consistency in your coffee. Some beans will be perfect, others will be burnt and acrid. That’s why professional coffee companies use high-quality equipment like these Giesen coffee roasters.

These types of roasters ensure an even roasting. Unless you’re a coffee business, these can be expensive to own. However, if you reach out to a business you might be able to use some of their models.

Appreciate Learning About Coffee Roast Levels? Keep Exploring

We hope this guide helped you learn more about coffee roast levels. As you can see, while there are some set uses for certain roast levels the option you choose is mainly personal.

So don’t get down if you don’t love them all. Instead, start experimenting and try some different roast blends to find the one that speaks to you the most.

Want more coffee content? Keep exploring to find tons of similar topics that you might just love.