Coffee Roasts Are As Individual As You Are.
Depending on who is doing the writing there may be up to five different names for each of these roast styles. This list of roast styles is not intended to be all-inclusive. It will, however, provide you with a widely accepted base of terminology that other coffee roasters will recognize, and still give you enough knowledge to look smart in front of your family and friends.
Note: The changes noted below are easily seen in fluid-air bed roasters but if you are using a drum roaster you need to rely more on sounds and smells.
Light Roast-- Known as Cinnamon, New England and Half City.
At this roast coffee tends to taste sour or grassy. Many Institutional coffees are roasted to this stage. Body and acidity are undeveloped at this stage of the roast. No oil present on the surface of the bean and evidence of silverskin (chaff) is beginning to fly off.
Medium Light Roast -- Known as a City Roast.
Pyrolysis starts to begin at this stage of the roast. Sizes of bean increases and sounds of beginning first crack can definitely be heard. Acidity is bright and sharp. Light brown in color with a dry surface.
Medium Roast -- Known as American Roast or Full City.
Medium chestnut brown in color. Acidity and body are becoming balanced at this stage. For a Northern Italian espresso, you would stop roasting at this stage.
Medium Dark Roast -- Known as French Roast or Viennese Roast.
A rich dark color. Coffee has a satin sheen to its appearance. Passes the first crack. At this stage of the roast, body is heavier and fuller. Roast is developing quickly at this stage and second crack can be heard very shortly.
Dark -- Known as an Italian Roast or Espresso Roast.
Second crack is in progress at this stage and beans are brownish black in color. Oil is evident and beans take on a shiny appearance. This roast style has a sweet smoky flavor. Acidity is muted while the sugars in the coffee caramelize. Popular roast for American espressos.
Very Dark Roast-- Known as a Spanish Roast.
Black in color with a very shiny oily surface. All characteristics of the coffee are gone at this stage. A charred carbon taste dominates and body and flavor are reduced to bittersweet tones. A coffee at this roast level taste very thin..