This is an intriguing question, those that grow coffee may argue that it’s much more than that, but is it? More importantly how do we judge this, as coffee roasts have been placed into three categories, by strength? Additionally most people are inclined to use their own particular choice by brand name and strength. To add to the confusion, coffee companies and coffee store outlets such as Starbucks and Dunkin donuts appear to agree that there is no standardization of which coffee roast falls into which category.
It all comes down to how long it’s roasted
Coffee beans absorb heat and undergo many chemical changes and the longer the roast, the darker the bean. This process significantly alters the original flavour and texture resulting in a vastly different taste.
The longer the roasting period results in the darker coffee beans and is commonly referred to as ‘dark roast’
So color is important when determining the strength?
In essence, this is true as a shorter roasting process will naturally produce a lighter colored coffee bean with little alteration to the original taste. This is where the lighter roasts come from and it is usually slightly sweeter and more aromatic. If the coffee beans are roasted a little bit more, then they fall into the medium roast category (further details can be found over at: http://www.talkaboutcoffee.com/coffee-roast-levels.html).
Differing regional tastes influence coffee roast choice
It is interesting to note that a huge influence on different coffee roasts varies according to different regional tastes. For example, Italy Spain and France prefer the darker roasts as they prefer very strong espresso style coffees. Hence some dark roasts are referred to as ‘French coffee’ Italian or Spanish roast and ‘continental roasts. Medium roasts are popular for those who dislike strong coffee or prefer their coffee to be a little stronger than the lighter varieties generally the lighter roasted beans are used primarily by coffee store outlets. These beans make them ideal for further enhancement in cappuccinos, lattes and mocha flavours.
Overall, the evidence among coffee lovers show that it is all down to individual taste preferences and that this can vary from region to region. The colors of coffee beans and the roasting process do help to determine the strength and taste of coffees. The huge popularity of cappuccino, lattes and other coffees served at major coffee outlets show that the lighter coffee beans are highly desirable. As the popularity of coffee rises it’s hoped that there will be continued developments to ascertain a standardization of coffee beans. However, the existing categories of light medium and dark roasts give some indication of taste.