About Coffee Roasts
While grinds could be exactly defined by grain size, roast classifications are more subjective. Our 4 roast choices are similar to those shown in lower of the two charts, below, in bold text...though our dark roast might be described as somewhat between those shown as Viennese & French but without "burnt undertones". Thus, the below charts are approximations. For example: Spanish Roast is usually considered to be darker than either French or Italian Roasts, and in a category all its own. Other opinions will differ as to which of Italian vs. French Roasts is darker.
More than exactly defining the borderlines between various roasts, the primary purpose of these charts is to demonstrate how various flavor components generally vary, &/or develop/diminish, with different roast times and temperatures. Some of these changes, as beans transition from one roast stage to another, are simply the result of concentration because of water being driven off during the roast....while other changes can be actual chemical changes from heating (caramelization, Maillard Reactions, etc)...sometimes both. For example, caffeine concentration (not shown) in beans first increases, as the roasting boils off the beans' water content, and reaches a peak at about a medium-dark roast. But, then, further roasting begins to chemically break down caffeine content.
While there is some value to generalizing these roast types, over-simplification can present some confusion. For example, in the top chart, the cinnamon roast is grouped with New England roast...but the former roast style is usually considered to be quite a bit lighter. And, on that same chart, it shows that Italian roast is lighter than French but, as broached above, some connoisseurs would say it is the reverse.
Still, these charts should give you an idea of what to buy, depending upon what is most critical to your own taste...acidity, body, aroma, sweetness, etc. For the average person, medium to medium-dark will work, but ultimately this is a matter of personal taste...and some beans will work well with a light roast, while others can handle blackening well!
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