Roasting coffee causes the sugars, fats, and starches contained in the bean to emulsify, caramelize, and release. The delicate coffee oil that results from roasting is what gives coffee its unique, distinctive aroma and taste.

In general, lighter roasts tend to be sharper and more acidic than darker roasts. Darker roasts have a fuller flavor.

Light Roasts (Cinnamon, Half City, Light, New England)

The bean is light brown and dry with no visible oils on the surface of the bean. The flavor is baked or bread-like, similar to toasted grain. 

Medium Roasts (American, Breakfast, Brown, City, Medium)

Medium light brown beans. The American roast is the most common roast used for cupping and professional coffee tasting. 

Medium-Dark to Dark Roasts (Full City, Light French, Viennese)

Medium dark brown beans. Some oily drops will be present on the surface of the bean exhibiting some chocolate or caramel undertones.

Dark/High Roasts (After Dinner, Continental, European, French, New Orleans, Espresso)

At this level, the beans are very dark brown (but not black). The roasted beans are shiny with an oil coating on the surface. This is a popular roast for making espresso. Many people believe French roast to be the darkest roast, but they have not had Spanish roast yet…

Very Dark Roasts (Dark French, Italian, Spanish)

Spanish is the darkest roast of all. The coffee beans are nearly black in color and the flavor tends to be flat with charcoal undertones.