There isn't much more of a debated topic in coffee than roast level. Some people swear by the caramel ‘roasty’ taste that a dark roast gives, while others never stray from the bright and acidic taste of a light roast. But when you get down to it, what is the difference, and what does it mean in your cup?
First, and most importantly, light roast does not mean light on flavour. A lot of the time light roast coffee is equated to light beer. Light beer can be flavourless, watered down, and doesn’t offer much to the drinker. Light roast coffee is not like that at all. Light roast coffee tends to be fruity, floral, and acidic (in a good way) tasting. Generally speaking, the lighter the roast, the more you can taste the origin of the bean. The darker the roast, the more you get notes of roastiness, caramel, and a graham cracker kind of taste.
Most commercially available coffee is dark roast. This is often described as bold. What's the reason for this? It has been a staple of coffee roasting for decades, and it's the taste people are most familiar with. Dark roasts tend to taste similar; they taste like the roasting process. It's much easier for a roaster who is not concerned with bitterness to take a cheap bean, roast it hot and fast, and come out with a similar tasting dark roast coffee to what you find on a grocery shelf. The darker the roast, the less likely you are to notice any stale qualities in the bean, so more can be roasted at a time, and it will "last longer." Our philosophy is that the problem with this method is that everything tastes kind of the same, and there's an extreme amount of bitterness that is imparted into the bean. If you're going to roast dark, it is really difficult and time-consuming to achieve a dark bean, without imparting bitterness. When we released our revamped lineup of roasts in February of 2021, we held back our dark roast, Dark Side, for a couple of months because we just didn't have it dialed into where we were happy with it. We wanted roasty flavours, sweetness, and lots of body with no bitter aftertaste. After a couple of extra months of honing in, we finally got to the point where we were happy with it and released it, and it has been a huge hit.
Our lightest roast coffee is our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, which is like a fruit bomb exploded in your mouth when you first taste it! This coffee is definitely not lacking in flavour like a light beer. The rest of our coffees fall somewhere in the middle. We find that origin is a better descriptor of how a coffee will taste, so we don't really advertise our roast levels much. That being said, we're always open and transparent about our coffees, so if you want to talk roast level or anything else coffee, come visit us in the roastery, shoot us an email, or give us a call!