Light roasted coffee all taste very similar to me

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
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#1: Post by rjvelasquezm »

While I'll say my coffee hobby is relatively recent it seems to me that most light roasted coffee I try tastes very similar. I'm generally able to find larger differences in medium roasts.

I thought the idea behind roasting light is to be able to get as much of the coffee origin flavor as possible which should be less pronounced in a medium roast.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?

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#2: Post by EvanOz85 »

Your experience is the opposite of almost everyone on this forum.

Can you tell us about the various light roast coffees you've tried, as well as how fresh they were and how you brewed them?

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#3: Post by rjvelasquezm (original poster) »

I've tried a colombia pink bourbon, Kenyan Kaguyu and Guatemelan from SW Roasting. Ive tried a Colombian las perlitas and their light roast Holiday blend from vibrant roasters, ive tried an ethiopian from Steady State, a '1st batch' from Prodigal so not sure what that was exactly. A Alma Fria Honduran from Alma Coffee.

Out of those the one from Prodigal absolutely had a very particular very interesting flavor (like grape fruit) although I enjoyed it much more in espresso than filter.

The others just tasted all very similar, not sure how to describe it but maybe hollow is the right term.

I tried with different brew methods from V60 to Aeropress to Clever, and different grind sizes (using a Kingrinder K6 and Baratza Virtuoso), different temperatures ratios etc.

Out of all I think the Clever was what I liked the most.

A bit at a loss to explain my experience

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#4: Post by Dav »

I'd recommend a side-by-side cupping. You should clearly be able to tell the difference when doing multiple together.

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#5: Post by another_jim »

rjvelasquezm wrote:While I'll say my coffee hobby is relatively recent it seems to me that most light roasted coffee I try tastes very similar ... Has anyone else had a similar experience?
Absolutely everyone, despite the often deafening protestations to the contrary of the light roast brigade (with a few exceptions as noted below * ).

Coffee has a roasted background flavor that "tastes like coffee." When you distinguish between the different style of coffee, you have to eliminate this "taste like coffee" background, and focus on the foreground. But here you run into a snag, since the "tastes like coffee background" is different at every roast level. Going from dark to light:
  • Starbucks dark: tobacco and tar notes
  • Oily 60% dark chocolate colored beans: dark caramels, mollasses, clove.
  • Non-oily milk chocolate beans: medium caramels and cocoa:
  • Medium tan beans: light caramels and nuts
  • Light tan beans: melon, grain, and sugar flavors
To taste what is distinct in coffee, you have to learn to simply ignore these flavors. That takes a lot of time, and when you switch roast levels, you have to start all over again (although it gets faster).

BTW, you can use this taste chart for the "tastes like coffee" background to tell which roast levels you will enjoy most. I would urge every serous hobbyist to check their mutal contempt at the door, and get used to them all.

* The people who began drinking coffee with light roasts, and have done nothing else, have an excuse for thinking that only light roast show origin flavors. The rest are suffering from selective memory loss.
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#6: Post by drH »

Lance Hedrick put out a good video recently on dialing in light roasts. I still have issues getting them right even after 6 years in this hobby. But recently I've been more careful with my methods and aiming for longer ratios- this has helped a lot. Try cupping those coffees first or diluting the espresso to a 6oz cup- this helped me better understand the flavors I was aiming for.

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#7: Post by JonathanMichael »

Rafael, I wonder if you might be over or under extracting a bit? Under extraction tends to produce a rather generic cup profile with some sweetness and acidity present. Over extraction tends to mute vibrant flavors in a heavy way that emphasizes more generic "coffee flavor" or chocolate flavors. Very light roasted coffees often are more subtle in their expression but with far less noise from roast flavors you can start to develop a palate to differentiate flavor notes much more easily-in my opinion. Good quality coffees roasted to a more "medium" degree do offer a level of cup intensity that you don't usually find in extremely light roasts. However, when you become accustomed to drinking well extracted high quality light roasted coffees I think you will find origin and varietal/cultivar flavors are much more clearly presented.

rjvelasquezm (original poster)
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#8: Post by rjvelasquezm (original poster) »

It's quite possible. I've played around with the different standard variables to impact extraction (temp, grind size, ratio) and have generally been finding I prefer lower extractions (say 13:1 over 17:1, and 195F water isntead of boiling). Specifially for the Alma Coffee Honduran I enjoyed much more at the lower extraction and did get that higher acidity profile you mention (although maybe somewhat generic).

For my more 'regular' brews I do get quite muted flavors, so maybe I need to experiment further toward something in the middle of the extraction curve.

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#9: Post by rjvelasquezm (original poster) »

Thanks for the rec, will definitely check the Lance video, don't think Ive watched that one yet.

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#10: Post by rjvelasquezm (original poster) »

This sounds a lot like what I may be going through, primarily identifying that "melon, grain, sugar" flavors and finding it hard to go past them to the origin characteristics.

Although I do have to say some coffees do have a "bash you over the head" flavor that's very distinctive, the aforementioned grapefruity Prodigal, as well as a Black and White the Natural blend I tried. Very obviously distinctive flavors. Guess others must just be much more subtle.

Also, I do generally drink medium roasted coffee and have forever (that's just what coffee looks like in Venezuela where I grew up), so that might help explain why I find it easier to identify different flavors in medium roasts than light roasts which have been a recent endeavour.