Types of Coffee Roasts

Do you want to learn about types of Coffee Roasts? What is the right color and timing? Read this and discover one the key for a great mojo!

Types of Coffee RoastsRoasting coffee transforms the green beans into roasted products.

The process produces the flavor of coffee we drink by changing the grains through chemical reactions.

The vast majority of companies use types of coffee roasts for commercial coffee on a large scale.

Small-scale commercial roasting has grown significantly with the trend toward “single origin” gourmet coffees.

Some coffee lovers even roast coffee at home to both experiment with flavor profiles and ensure its great freshness.



The first implements for roasting coffee beans were thin pans made from metal or porcelain from the 15th century in the Middle East.

Types of Coffee RoastsThe first cylinder-roaster with a crank to manage the beans in motion appeared in Cairo around 1650.

The first large batch commercial roasters were patented in the 19th century.

Nevertheless, home roasting continued to be popular. Green coffee was available at local stores, or through mail order.

in 1849 a rounded coffee roaster was invented in Cincinnati, Ohio. This was the dawn of scale roasting and the trigger for the fall of home roasting.

Between 1903 and 1906 the first electric roasters were patented in the U.S. and Germany,

In the 50s both instant coffee and gourmet coffeehouses started their paths into popularity.

In the 1970s, more specialty coffee houses were founded, ones that offered a variety of roasts and beans from around the world.

In the 80s and 90s, the gourmet coffee industry experienced great growth.

From 1986 through 1999 there was a surge in the number of patents filed for home roasting appliances.

By the 21st century, gourmet coffee aficionados were using the internet to purchase green estate-grown beans for delivery by mail.



The coffee-roasting process comes after coffee processing and before coffee brewing.

Initially, the process is endothermic (absorbing heat), later exothermic (giving off heat), when the beans cook themselves.

Types of Coffee RoastsAt the end of the roasting round, the finished grains are dumped, and air cooled.


The most usual types of coffee roasting devices are of two basic types:

  • drum
  • hot-air.

There are two types of roaster operation:

  • batch
  • continuous

Home roasters are also available.


Drum devices consist of horizontal rotating drums that tumble the green coffee beans in a heating environment.

The most common employ indirectly heat drums where the source is under the drum.


Hot-air roasters force heated air through a screen or perforated plate under the coffee beans.



Most roasters use a combination of temperature, smell, color, and sound to monitor the roasting process.

Charts with different degrees and classifications have been created in a name mumbo jumbo extravaganza.  Everyone claiming theirs is the best option.

The most common roast chart for Types of Coffee Roasts follows the classification below:


All images are samples from the same batch of Brazilian green coffee at different bean temperatures with their subjective roast names and descriptions.


Green Beans

Green coffee as it hits the docks. Storage time can go up to approximately 12-18 months in a controlled environment before the quality loss is noticeable.


Drying Phase

While in the drying stage the beans undergo an endothermic process until their moisture content evaporates. This is called the first crack.


Cinnamon Roast

A very light roast grade which is quickly dumped at first crack. Sweetness is weak, with prominent toasted grain, grassy flavors, and sharp acidity noticeable.


Light Roast

Moderate light brown; Still mottled in appearance. A preferred roast for some specialty roasters highlights origin characteristics as well as complex acidity.


American Roast

Medium light brown, produced during the first crack. Acidity is somewhat muted but maintains origin features.


City Roast

Medium brown, used in most specialty coffee. Good for savoring origin tastes, although the roast character is noticeable.


Full City Roast

Medium-dark brown with infrequent oil sheen, the roast character is prominent. At the beginning of the second crack.


Vienna Roast

Moderate-dark brown with light surface-oil, more bittersweet, caramel taste, acidity muted. In the middle of the second crack. Any origin features have become eclipsed by roast at this level.


French Roast

Dark brown, shiny with oil, smoked undertones, acidity reduced. At the end of the second crack, the roast character is dominant, none of the natural aroma or flavors of the coffee remain.


Italian Roast

Nearly black and shiny, burnt tones become more distinct, acidity nearly eliminated, thin body.




Lighters roasts deliver a more natural to the original grains flavors while darker roasts lose that to flavors created by the roasting process itself.


At darker levels, the roast-flavor is so aggressive that it can be difficult to detect the origin of the coffee beans used.

Below, you will see a more popular and subjective form of classifying roasts with the corresponding roasting from above.


Light Roast
  • Cinnamon
  • American
  • Half City
  • Moderate-light Roast

After some minutes the beans “pop” or “crack” and visibly expand in size.

Dry, lighter-bodied, higher acidity, no distinct roast flavor.

This degree of roast is ideal for tasting the full origin character of the coffee.

Medium Roast
  • City
  • City+
  • Full City

After being developed through the first crack, the coffee reaches these roast levels.

Dry, sugars further caramelize, and acidity is muted.

This results in a coffee with a higher body, but some roast flavor imposed.


Dark Roast
  • Full City+
  • Italian
  • Viennese
  • French

After a few more minutes the beans begin popping again, and oils rise to the surface.

This is called the second crack.

Shiny, the level of oils correlates to how far the coffee is taken past second crack.

Bittersweet flavors are prominent, aromas and flavors of roast become clearly evident.

Little, if any, origin character remains.



Caffeine content varies by roast level.

Caffeine diminishes with increased roasting level.

However, this does not remain constant in coffee brewed from different grinds and brewing methods.

While roasting, the density of coffee changes. That leads to various roast levels that contain different caffeine levels. The bean itself still contains the same amount of caffeine.
Home roasting

Home roasting is the process of roasting small batches of green coffee beans for personal consumption.

Even after the turn of the 20th century, it was more common for at-home coffee drinkers to roast their coffee in their residence than it was to buy pre-roasted coffee.

Later, home roasting faded in popularity with the rise of the commercial coffee roasting companies.

In recent years home roasting of coffee has seen a revival with the objective of achieving finer control over the quality and characteristics of brewed coffee.

Quality coffee roasting,  precise grinding, great Commercial or Gourmet Coffee and flawless Brewing are major key elements that determine the quality of your mojo.


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