I liked this quote from ineedcoffee.com:

[K]eep in mind that the lighter the roast, the more confidence the roaster is showing in the quality of the raw bean.

Arizona Coffee

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9 comments

  1. How about “the lighter the roast the most bitterness you will obtain due to be roasting out of the window of caramelization”. However, all statements relative to light roast are just opinions and not fact if the definition of light roast is not defined. For some people light roast is before first crack for some other is inmediately past first. This is the beauty of coffee; we still have room for playing around and obtain a different result by adjusting things a bit. One fact that I am willing to put money into; having good green will give you confidence in roasting both light and dark, so sample lots of coffee and dont let other people opinion affect your own pallate, they are only a different point of view.

  2. It is an accurate statement. The roaster has determined the quality is there and tested it. If he or she has not thoroughly evaluated it, oh boy look out. Some coffees that are very high quality are just horrible when roasted light (Let’s just refer to “light roast” as City).

    A rather expensive Central offered in our lineup comes to mind. We thought it would be excellent roasted to a City level in order to showcase the unique character of the beans, but no matter how we profiled the roast, it just didn’t work out. Yet at a Full City level (and beyond), this particular coffee shines like there’s no tomorrow.

    As the article describes, roasting dark is also a technique used by some roasters, large and small, to mask defects. Roasting dark costs the roaster more because of increased weight loss during the roasting process (drop 120 pounds of green in the roaster and only 100 or so come out. Roast it real dark and you might have to put in 125 pounds green to get 100 roasted). What does this tell you about the quality going of the green going in?

  3. Actually, the maillard reaction occurs primarily at 150?C (302?F), therefore the “window of caramelization” is certainly reached and surpassed because first crack ideally happens at 375?-380?F. So I think when referring to third wave coffee, light roasts are seldom bitter and have a range of notes that are deprived from origin characteristic. I think lighter roasts achieve more of this, which is directly correlated to the fact that we are not tasting just the “roast.”
    For more info, read James Hoffman’s blog: http://tinyurl.com/9eqv7p

  4. Correction: Derived** from origin characteristic

  5. Great Comment Adriana, However we are talking about two different things. I took this from wikipedia;

    “Caramelization (British English: caramelisation) is the browning of sugar, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color. As the process occurs, volatile chemicals are released, producing the characteristic caramel flavor.
    Like the Maillard reaction, caramelization is a type of non-enzymatic browning. However, unlike the Maillard reaction, caramelization is pyrolysis, as opposed to reaction with amino acids.
    When caramelization involves the disaccharide sucrose, it is broken down into the monosaccharides fructose and glucose”.

    I love to hear smart people discussing coffee and rendering an opinion.

  6. I think what Adriana was getting at is that caramelization of the coffee bean is undesirable, as it occurs at too high of temperatures and doesn’t develop a wide range of flavors that the mallard reaction (sugars reacting with amino acids within the bean) does at lower temperatures – in short, caramelization yields predictable flavors, since it’s simply the browning (er, let’s call it what it is: burning) of sugars.
    A scientist could conclude very easily that lower temperatures (enough to trigger the maillard reaction) develop unique flavors and caramelization does not.
    Now, will it be more “bright” and “acidic” tasting? Sure. Anything lacking the uniform, burning, roast-y notes of caramelizaton will. That’s how a sourcer of quality (quality, that is, linked heavily to sweet, fruity taste) beans can be assured, when roasted light, that their coffee won’t taste very simply like all other caramelized beans do.
    Not so much a subjective opinion.
    I would argue that one who has learned to like darkly roasted beans would, by the same school of thought, come to like well-done steaks and scorched campfire marshmallows.

  7. Is this one of those things I say Potato? We have done the blind tasting and actually amalize the beans before tasting from some of the great roasters from around town and around the nation and compare, most of the time the great names did not came first. To roast lighter for the sake of developing citrus notes on coffee is the same as roasting dark for the sake of developing oils and smokie flavors. It is all a choice and is all matter of opinion. Starbucks did the same thing at the beggining by roasting dark as hell and is all the same is the choice of coffee professional what we like or dont like to sell. Confidense on roasting a good bean is the only thing that I see agreeing with, as if it’s really a great bean it will shine in all sides of the spectrum plus it hard to ruin a trully great bean (unless you plain out burn it). Some of us will like them round and sweet and some other bitter and citrusy who is right or wrong will be proved by the masses over time.

  8. Sam C.

    Hmmmm, I would say not all coffees are created equally. This does not mean that all lesser grade coffees need to be thrown away.

    There is a genuine customer interest in Italian/French roasts. To ignore this fact would be to undervalue a significant portion of your customer base. If you do sample a coffee and roast profile it a few times and cannot make it work, why not brings it dark(after trying bodhi leaf’s bob-o-link i decided this). A great farm but the crop was not premium to my clientele.

  9. I think it’s safe to say that there are great coffees with different ratios of chemical composition, and even with completely different chemical compounds that make up the beans dependent mainly on soil (we are what we eat, so are coffee beans). This is what makes a certain bean taste better at a light roast; others roasted darker. “Better” is subjective, yes, there’s no way around that. But “Bitter” and “Sour” are not so subjective. So a high quality coffee roasted light might taste sour, but the same coffee roasted dark might actually turn the sour compounds into something very “Sweet” or at least more palatable. It all really depends on soil, climate, and DNA of the shrub. I would say the majority of high quality coffees taste good throughout the roasted range (light to dark within reason and depending on personal taste), but not all. Some excellent coffees just are not all that good roasted light and careful experimentation by the roaster to determine what works and what doesn’t is a must.