There are 3 general roast types... light, medium and dark. Within those roasts are several different sub types or levels of roasts.
But today, I'm going to focus on the 3 major types and why we, at Medina River Coffee, roast most of our beans to a medium roast. Light roasts are beans that are roasted for the least amount of time and at the lowest temperature. These beans retain the most caffeine and have the highest acidity levels. That's why you'll hear the term "bright" most often associated with light roasts. Light roasted coffee usually has a more fruity or herbal profile making the flavors intense and complex.
Dark roasts are at the opposite end of the spectrum. These beans have been roasted for the longest and highest temperature and past "second crack". At this level most of the individual bean flavor has vanished and you're left with a somewhat sweet but mostly smoky, bitter and charred flavor. The beans are dark and oily and weigh less due to the moisture loss. We use our darkest roast for our cold brew coffee. The slightly sweet caramelized flavor mixes with the smokiness to create a bold cold brew with low acidity.
Medium roasts hit the sweet spot for most people. Light roasts can be unapproachable due to their high acidity and fruitiness and some don't like the "burnt" flavor of most dark roasts. But medium roasts provide full body, full flavor profiles along with some natural sweetness from caramelization that occurs from the slightly higher heat and length of roast time. You'll notice a medium brown appearance on a mostly dry bean with maybe just a hint of oil on the surface. We think it's the best compromise of all the roasts for the most people.
However, the best roast is the one you like! Everyone's palette is different. And while some may try to talk you into believing the way they do, let us reassure you there are no right or wrong answers. Life is too short to drink coffee you don't like. Pick your roast, enjoy and if you're feeling adventurous try something different. At MRC you can have whatever you like. We'll custom roast any of our beans to your liking, all you gotta do is ask.