By June 1, 2010 Read Article
Grades of coffee roasting

Boomeranging to Super Light Roasts

It occurred to me again as we were cupping five beautiful single-origin samples from two of the leading new-paradigm roasting companies (call them third wave , fourth wave – whatever wave we’re on now) that some of these exciting, ground-breaking roasting companies may be edging toward, well, too light a roast.

What an irony – even five years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live you – literally – could not buy a medium roast coffee of any distinction, aside from a few selections at Whole Foods Markets. You could of course buy dark roasts, good ones. And you could buy even darker roasts – some of which were good – and you could buy a whole lot of really dark roasts, most of which were not good at all.

But it almost seems as though some of the new paradigm roasters are doing the same thing the dark roasters did, but in reverse. Perhaps they are allowing their roasts to creep lighter as their palates grow accustomed to the lighter style. When the trier is hopping and they are at the edge of doubt, perhaps they get in the habit of erring on the light side rather than on the dark.

At any rate, getting back to these five splendid coffees (none from a San Francisco Bay Area roaster by the way): The green coffees were so fine, so distinctive in character, that light-roasted, medium roasted, or almost any roasted except French they would impress and attract a high rating.

Nevertheless, I had the feeling that at least two of them would have shown better at a just slightly darker roast. By slightly darker, I mean slightly – just enough to round and consolidate the flavors a bit more and eliminate any grassy edge to the flowers or grainy edge to the sweetness.

They still were terrific coffees just as they were – all the fresh, honeyish sweetness and complex aromatics intact. But I wonder whether they would have been even more exciting had the roaster hovered over the trier just a few seconds longer.

Posted in: Coffee News

About the Author:

Kenneth Davids is a coffee expert, author and co-founder of Coffee Review. He has been involved with coffee since the early 1970s and has published three books on coffee, including the influential Home Roasting: Romance and Revival, now in its second edition, and Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying, which has sold nearly 250,000 copies over five editions. His workshops and seminars on coffee sourcing, evaluation and communication have been featured at professional coffee meetings on six continents.

3 Comments on "Boomeranging to Super Light Roasts"

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  1. Pawel says:

    Hi Ken!
    I read and love your books, having the opportunity to thank you – thanks!!

    I have asked the same question not long ago, if I should (order) one of my favourite coffees roasted Full City instead of City+ – the post (unanswered) is here

    No other way but try, I think.
    All Best,

  2. Urzay G says:

    I too have noticed that there are many roasts getting way too light – I myself – prefer a medium to dark roast but it seems many are roasting either to the almost burnt or under done like you say.
    And as you ask “would they have been even more exciting, had the roaster hovered over the trier just a few seconds longer?”

  3. Ocie Smith says:

    I really enjoyed the post. My boss and I were talking about this topic the other day. My statement to him was that “Each coffee growing region is different and distint. Why do some coffee companies roast all there beans the same!” I agree that some need a darker roast and some a lighter. The taste of the consumer seams to reflect your post.