Coffee 101: The Roast

Whether you prefer a bold, black coffee or a light and caramel-y cup, we all have our favorite coffee roasts. Ever wonder what makes one roast darker than the other? And what is the roasting process, anyway?

Aside from the type of bean used, one of the most important factors in the flavor and intensity of your coffee is the roast—or the degree to which your coffee beans are roasted. Before they’re roasted, coffee beans bear little resemblance to the aromatic brown beans we know and love. Referred to as “green coffee beans” or “green coffee,” these raw, unroasted beans are light in color, soft, smell grassy and have little to no taste.

Green coffee is usually roasted in large roasting machines, which maintain a temperature of about 500-550 degrees Fahrenheit. The machines keep the beans constantly moving to avoid burning them. Coffee beans begin to turn color when they reach an internal temperature of about 400 degrees. As the coffee beans absorb heat during the process, their color becomes darker, shifting from white to tan to darker shades of brown. The longer the beans are exposed to the heat, the darker they become.

Expert roasters are used to determine when the coffee beans have finished roasting. It takes years of training to become an expert roaster, as the difference between perfectly roasted coffee beans and a ruined batch can be a matter of seconds. Our Lead Roaster, certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America's Roasters Guild and seasoned by decades of experience, has mastered the secrets of time and temperature and is an integral part in making our coffee bold and rich, bright and surprising, or smooth and subtle.

Roasts are usually described by the color of the finished, roasted coffee beans and fall into one of four color categories—light, medium, medium-dark or dark. Lighter roasts will exhibit more of the beans’ "origin character"—flavors created by their variety, the location where they were grown, and when they were grown. As coffee roasts get darker, they tend to take on more flavors from the roasting process. For more about the taste of each color category, check out our blog post here.

Though we were founded almost a century ago with our Signature Dark Roast, we have a wide variety of roasts to fit almost any preference.

If you like lighter roasts and snappy acidity, try our Breakfast Blend. For a bit more body and balanced flavor, try our 5 Star Hotel Blend™ or Amber Sunrise Blend™.

If medium-dark roasts are your favorite, give our House Blend, Café Special® or 100% Colombia Altura® coffee a try. And if you prefer your coffee black as night, check out our Private Reserve® Louisiana Blend® and Evangeline Blend™ coffees.

Or, why not try them all? Now that you know all about roasts, you might as well put your knowledge to good use. And who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a cup of coffee that you enjoy a little bit more than the last.