What is Light Roast?

Several factors affect a coffee’s quality, with the roast method perhaps the most significant. But among the roasting types, one is truly popular with coffee drinkers preferring mild taste.

Light roast coffee offers a smooth flavor and a good balance between acidity and body.

young woman enjoying a cup of light roast coffee.

Many prefer it because they find it easier to drink than other types of roast – medium and dark roast.

Besides, it has been touted as the new trend, with many coffee shops now offering this lighter roast.

This article will help you understand why your next cup of coffee might be called a light roast.

And what exactly makes up the differences between dark roast and light roast coffee.

You will also understand how to select, store and brew milder coffee tastes.


Light Roast Coffee: What Is It?

Light Roasts are also known by several n: HalfHalf City Roast, Cinnamon Roast, New England Roast, and Light City Roast.

The process of roasting coffee beans involves the conversion of green beans to brown ones.

Coffee beans are roasted differently depending on the desired flavor, with light roast being one of them. Others include dark and medium roast.

And after roasting, you can differentiate between the roast types by the color of the beans.

The popular top-quality coffees with a Light Roast (to preserve their natural flavors) are Java, Kenya, and Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffees.


The First Crack

Green coffee beans are heated in a light roast until they exhibit the “first crack,” which appears as bursting and crackling as they increase in size during the roasting process. Usually, this happens after just a few minutes of roasting.

A lighter roast has the advantage of retaining more of its original flavors, typically affected by plant origin, climate, and soil characteristics.

Light roast coffee refers to the lightest roast level. The only difference between light, medium and dark roast coffees is that light city roast beans are roasted for a shorter time than the others.

As the name suggests, the New England roast needs to be made using less or little heat and has a medium to a lighter body. This way, it avoids losing essential oils in the coffee beans.

New England roast offers a smoother, more delicate flavor. It is created by using the lowest degree of heat possible, which causes less damage to the coffee beans. This translates to a milder flavor and a lower acidity level.

Light coffee also has lower caffeine content than other types of coffee.

A lighter roast has the advantage of retaining more of its original flavors, typically affected by plant origin, climate, and soil characteristics.


Light Roasted Coffee Characteristics

The following features easily identify light roasts;

  • Chestnut brown or light brown colors
  • Toasted grain taste with a dry surface
  • No traces of dark – burnt or smoky – flavors
  • Light roast has higher acidity than dark or medium roasts resulting in a sweeter and more balanced taste.


Coffee That Is Light Roasted Is A Relatively New Product

The idea of roasting for a particular coffee’s characteristics is, in fact, a pretty new one!

Light Roast Coffee has been one of the most popular coffee roasts over the last decade or so.

Many people consider it to be the specialty coffee that has taken over from the popular dark roast coffees of earlier times.

Traditionally, beans were roasted dark on primitive roasters. It had no unique flavor, just a coffee-like taste easily described in three words: bitter, thick, and burnt coffee brew.

However, the coffee industry took a massive leap in the last five decades thanks to advances in science and technology. And today, coffee lovers can indulge in a wide variety of new coffee flavors.


High-quality Coffee Breeds

Advancement in agriculture technology has enabled farmers to produce high-quality crops.

It is now easy to monitor and manipulate crops to produce the desired variety.

The use of computers also enables roasters to monitor and adjust the roasting temperature, guaranteeing the perfect roast.

Roasting coffee light results in unearthing the coffee’s potential—a possibility previously unknown to the world of coffee.

A light roast has been roasted so gently that the natural flavor of the coffee is enhanced.


What Are The Flavors Of Light Roast Coffee?

It’s not uncommon for the regular dark roast coffee drinkers to get surprised whenever they taste light toast for the first time. Some even comment, “it is so sweet?” or “what makes it so good?”

The Cinnamon Roast drink has a fruity, bold, and floral flavor, making it a real treat compared to the dark roast.

How is this possible?

For one, the light roasting process ensures the natural coffee bean flavors are retained. And the process also guarantees a combination of subtle toasted grain flavor and crisp acidity.

However, what makes lighter roasts more appealing is a mixture of the following flavors:



  • Sugarcane
  • Honey
  • Vanilla


  • Stone fruit – plum, peach, nectarine)
  • Berry – strawberry, raspberry, blueberry
  • Savory papaya or tomato
  • Citrus fruits – lemon, orange, grapes, lime


  • Jasmine
  • Rose
  • Chamomile

Typically, mild roasts have a light and silky taste, and even some have a flavor similar to tea. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of the typical dark roast brew, which is oily, thick, and super dark, mainly because it’s made from dark oily beans.

Although light roast has unique flavors, it has one major challenge – many find it is tricky to brew light roast coffee.

Don’t worry!

If you learn how light roast beans differ from a medium or a dark roast, you will also extract the full taste in your brewing process.


What Is The Best Way To Brew Light Roast Coffee?

Simple!  You can make it just like regular coffee. To get the most out of your coffee drink, remember these tips:


  • Grinding size: Choose a grind size appropriate to your brewing method


  • Coffee brewing temperature: Due to the dynamic flavor of light roast coffee, it can be brewed at different temperatures for different results


  • Brewing time: Coffee extraction and flavor change with the brewing time. A longer brewing time results in more extraction of flavors and changes the taste of the coffee. For instance, It takes about six minutes to make a pot of coffee, while 25 seconds is needed for espresso.


  • Freshness: The freshness of coffee decreases as it ages. Flavors alter considerably after the first few weeks. Get the freshest coffee you can get so that you can enjoy its full potential.


What Pairs Well With Light Roast Coffee?

Light roast goes well with breakfast and snacks in the afternoon. It has a fruity, floral flavor, a light body, and a great acidity which pairs perfectly with tangy and creamy:



  • Cheesy scones
  • Buttery croissants
  • Lunch sandwiches
  • Avocado toast



  • Toast and jam
  • Thumbprint cookies
  • Fruit pies

You can always keep it simple by just adding a splash of any creamer you’d like to your coffee.


How Much Caffeine Is In Light Roast Coffee?

It has been held that lightly roasted coffee beans retain more caffeine because they are roasted less.

But in reality, there is no significant difference in caffeine content between light and dark roasts.

However, coffee density and volume do explain why so many people are confused about the caffeine content.

In comparison, you should note that lighter roasts have more caffeine per gram than dark roasts since dark roasts lose density and the beans grow in size in the roasting process.

Comparing the volume of coffee beans shows that light roast coffee beans use up more space than dark roast coffee.

For instance, a tablespoon will have more light beans because they are smaller than the dark roast – thus, a scoop of the light roast will have more caffeine.

But comparing by weight proves otherwise – the caffeine content difference is insignificant. For example, 50 grams of dark coffee, though it appears more than a similar weight as light beans, have the same caffeine.

As with roast, the coffee’s caffeine content varies according to the brew method. When brewing, an espresso coffee cup is more potent than a drip coffee cup but has less caffeine.

Espresso has a thick and heavy taste like the dark roast, which many quite often mistakenly associate its intense flavor to more caffeine – just another misconception.

light roast coffee beans.

Is Light Roast Coffee Less Acidic?

The essential ingredient of coffee is acid which adds to its overall flavor, and that’s true in both decaffeinated and caffeinated varieties.

No coffee is truly acid-free because the chemical process that produces it always results in acidity.

Generally, lighter roast coffees have more acid than darker roast coffees, resulting in their crispy sour taste.

However, the sour taste doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more acidic, but several factors cause the bitter taste.

For example, the sourness in the lemonade will be greater if there’s less sugar added.

As a result of the longer roasting process, darker roasts tend to taste smoother and caramelly.

Also, specific varieties of coffee grown at high altitudes are sweeter and have a lower acid content. You can roast these high-altitude coffee varieties, either light or dark.

In addition, brewing temperature affects roast coffee acidity.

Low-temperature brewed coffee mostly has a lower acidity because it lessens the chemical reactions that release acid from the beans during the brewing process. For anyone who enjoys light roast coffee but is concerned about acids, this is a great alternative.


Is Light Roast Coffee Better Served Hot Or Iced?

There is no one fit answer here because light roast coffee tastes great whether served hot or iced.

You can serve it iced for a smooth and refreshing cold-brew or double brew it and serve it over ice for a more flavorful cup.


Differences Between a Light and a Medium Roast

Here are the differences between a light and medium roast.

  • Light roasts have a shorter roasting time than medium roasts characterized by darker color without oil on their surface
  • A light roast is generally smooth and delicate. A medium roast has a more robust flavor
  • A light roast is best if you like a strong flavor, while a medium roast is best if you dislike the bitterness that comes from oxidation
  • A light roast will generally be smoother and have a more delicate flavor
  • Light roasts tend to be brighter and acidy, while medium roasts tend to be smokier and darker
  • Typically, a light roast tastes more acidic, whereas a medium roast tastes more bittersweet
  • If you add a little bit of cream to a medium roast coffee, the flavor will be more enjoyable


The Difference Between Light And Dark Roasts

There’s a big difference between a light roast and a dark roast when it comes to coffee.

  • The significant difference between light and dark roast is the amount of time they are roasted. Dark roasts are roasted much longer
  • Light roasts have less oil and less caffeine than dark roasts.
  • A lighter roast can be a little milder and have a more delicate, slightly sweet, and nutty taste.
  • Simply stated, light roasts tend to have a bright or acidic flavor which tends to be more floral, whereas dark roasts tend to have a more rounded and smoky flavor.
  • A light roast is made with freshly roasted and ground beans, and so it has a more delicate taste. A dark roast uses older beans, and so it tends to have a darker shade of brown than a light roast.


Espresso Beans Roasted Light

The espresso machine can roast any coffee.  Although a dark roast is traditionally associated with espresso, terming it an espresso roast is not quite right. Compared to a traditional super dark roast, a light roast will change the flavor of the coffee quite a bit.

Choosing the right grind is the most important thing when selecting an espresso maker.

In general, machines brew best at a given pressure from the pump – too fine a grind can interfere with the pump and cause damage, while too coarse a grind will allow too much water to pass through, resulting in an under-extracted, weak brew.


Bottom line

Light coffee is no longer just a trend, but it’s widely consumed globally.

It is a carefully roasted coffee under the lowest heat. The result? Delicious coffee with no bitterness and a bright flavor profile for the most extraordinary experience.

While providing the perfect balance between acidity and body, the light roast retains most of its nutrients and low caffeine levels.

Light roast coffee is easily differentiated from the darker roast by its light brown color resulting from the shortest brewing time.

Many love the incredible taste and aromas of light toast, but also because it can pair well with other products.

The decisions you want to pair or serve your coffee depend on the kind of flavor and taste you want to achieve.

So how do you prefer to take your Cinnamon Roast, hot or iced? With or without flavors?

About the author

Hi I'm James and coffee is an integral part of my routine: from waking up to getting ready for work in the morning, to spending time with friends after work in the evening hours. It’s not just about being caffeinated; it's about enjoying every single moment of your day with that perfect cup of joe! At Coffee-Prices.com, our goal is to provide no-nonsense, clear and up to date information about coffee.

James Black

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