How To Choose Your Craft Coffee Beans
The type of roast profile you choose when selecting your craft coffee beans is the most important consideration when it comes to determining the flavor in your cup of craft coffee, but it’s the one that too many people cut corners on when buying coffee in general.
Table Of Contents
There are three main types of coffee roasting profiles:
- Light Roasts
- Medium Roasts
- Dark Roasts
Light Roast Coffee
Light roast coffees bring out the greatest flavor potential of the coffee bean. Most people think that the term “light” means less caffeinated, which is not in any way true. Tests have been done to prove that the roast style of the bean has minimal effect on the caffeine content in your coffee.
The term “light” refers to the fact that the beans are left in the roaster for a shorter amount of time than a medium or dark roast. Due to the fact that heat is being applied to the bean for a shorter amount of time, the natural, organic compounds remain intact more so than in the darker roasts. Light roasts are known for their sweet and fruity flavor notes such as: blackberry, plum, peach, and green apple.
Medium Roast Coffee
In most cases, medium roast coffees still present some of the natural organic compounds of the coffee beans but the fruity flavors aren’t as obvious. When roasting coffee beans, medium roasts are left in the roaster exactly as long you’d expect - longer than a light roast, but shorter than a dark roast. The acidity levels tend to level off the longer the bean is left in the roaster, which removes the original sweet fruity flavors that are present in light roasts. This leads to flavors like molasses, caramel, and honey. Medium roasts tend to be the current favorite in the United States as a whole, with Pikes Place roast being a notable medium roast familiar to Starbucks lovers.
Dark Roast Coffee
Dark roast coffee beans are left in the roaster for the longest amount of time and are the most bitter in flavor. Oftentimes, people will describe a charred, bitter, burnt taste being present in these types of coffee. Coffee beans lose acidity the longer they’re roasted which leads to a loss of natural flavor. Your typical Folgers or convenience store coffee is likely a dark roast because it’s the easiest type of coffee to commercially produce. This is due to the lack of “craft” that has to go into producing a dark roast. It’s much easier to throw a scoop of beans from God knows where and let them roast until they’re charred to a crisp.
In 95% of cases, you should choose a light or medium roast if you want to experience the full flavor potential of the coffee bean.
Why You Should Choose A Light Or Medium Roast
Craft coffee roasters work hand-in-hand with small local organic farms and co-ops in parts of the world like Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Peru, and Uganda. In turn, craft coffee roasters focus on roasting their beans with a light or medium roast so that the natural flavors of the bean remain present for the end consumer. This requires skill and patience - hence the term “craft coffee.”
Each coffee bean has its own set of unique characteristics depending on factors present during its growth stage. These factors include what region of the world the bean was grown, along with the elevation, temperature, humidity, and soil makeup of the specific growing region. This requires roasters to spend countless hours optimizing roast profiles for each specific bean so that the natural flavors are highlighted. When you begin drinking craft coffee with light and medium roasts, you’ll be able to taste the unique differences of each coffee bean based on the region the bean was grown. It makes for a fun experience!
This advice might seem somewhat strange if you’ve grown up in America drinking coffee. You’re probably wondering, why aren’t I recommending a dark roast coffee?
Why You Shouldn’t Drink Dark Roast Coffee (like Folgers, Maxwell House, and even Starbucks)
Producing dark roast coffee requires little craft and/or expertise. Large corporations can mass produce dark roasts because they don’t have to focus on producing an optimal flavor for the end user. They can blend whatever beans together from whatever part of the world and still produce a similar flavor. Just because Folgers has a great marketing campaign about “the best part of waking up,” doesn’t ensure that you’re getting a high quality cup of coffee. You have no idea where mass produced coffee is coming from, therefore there’s a high chance of mold being present in high concentrations.
The reason most Americans have traditionally consumed dark roasts is because they pay less than $7 for a month’s worth of coffee. If you do a quick Google search and look up what Folgers is selling their 30 oz containers at in the grocery store you can easily see why:
That’s a ridiculously cheap price for an insane amount of coffee! Most higher-end craft coffee roasters can’t even come close to competing with that. Think about it like this: You can currently buy 30 oz of Folgers coffee for $7 or purchase 12oz of a high end brand for $19. This why most Americans have bought Folgers from the grocery store.
It’s a great way to consume coffee on the regular for next to nothing, but what most people don’t realize is that this low quality coffee makes you worse off since you end up drinking a bunch of mold infested coffee that actually saps your energy instead of providing an energy boost.
Why is it so bad to drink dark roasted coffee?
Well… you get what you pay for. Coffee that you’re only paying $7 for a large container has no incentive to keep you happy or keep you healthy. They’ll continue mass producing coffee with low quality ingredients and processes the longer Americans keep paying for it. Unless you experience how you feel after drinking a good cup of craft coffee with clean ingredients, you’ll have no reason to switch. And since they allow you to purchase coffee at such a cheap price, it’s easy to fall into the trap of drinking way too much coffee every day.
(Yes, this happened to Austin) He used to drink a full pot of Folgers coffee each day during college. That’s not a fun situation to be in after knowing the amount of mold levels that are present in low quality coffee. No wonder he always felt tired after drinking multiple cups of low quality coffee. The mold was wreaking havoc on his energy levels.
If you want to avoid low energy levels after drinking a cup of coffee, your best option is to go with coffee produced by a local craft roaster. This ensures that a coffee expert who cares about the quality of the end product has had their say in the coffee bean from start to finish.
Quick Recap on Light Roast, Medium Roast, and Dark Roast Coffee
There are a lot of options you can choose when choosing a roast profile. Your taste preference and willingness to experiment with new flavors will determine which roast you actually end up choosing. But if you’re at all unsure, we recommend sticking with a light roast if you enjoy the experience of tasting new flavors.
If you’re looking for something closer to the “traditional” coffee flavor, go with a medium roast. You can’t go wrong with our locally roasted Perk Coffee Company light roast and medium roast options, and you can rest assured knowing that quality has been the #1 priority throughout the whole process.
Once you’ve decided on which craft coffee bean you’re going to purchase, the next step is to learn how to store your new coffee beans so that optimal freshness is maintained.