What do you like about light roasts?

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

lately, I had to work with a lot of lighter roasted coffee and it's outside of my element. As I'm trying to adjust I'm not sure how to describe desirable characteristics or what I'm looking for. Often I get woody or nutty flavours and I'm confused if this is what the demand for light roasts are but maybe it's a problem with how I'm brewing or a problem with the roast profile. So what is it about a light roast that makes it desirable? how do you change your brewing technique to bring out the best in light roasts?

ojt

#2: Post by ojt »

Woody and nutty? Sounds weird for light roasts, though I've had some walnutty brazilian beans. Anyway for me it's all about the wide range of taste notes and mouth feels, ranging from berry bombs to fruity and sometimes spicey or even nutty as you said, and floral too. Mouth feel is often velvety and smooth, rather than thick and creamy.

Woody / vegetal taste sounds like underdeveloped or otherwise faulty roast imho.

Edit: I was referring to espresso with the mouth feel but the flavor applies to all brew methods

Edit 2: Also the sweetness is what I look for in light roast. IME can be found from medium (for me a medium roast must not have roasty aromas) to light roast.
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DamianWarS (original poster)
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#3: Post by DamianWarS (original poster) »

ojt wrote:Woody and nutty? Sounds weird for light roasts, though I've had some walnutty brazilian beans. Anyway for me it's all about the wide range of taste notes and mouth feels, ranging from berry bombs to fruity and sometimes spicey or even nutty as you said, and floral too. Mouth feel is often velvety and smooth, rather than thick and creamy.

Woody / vegetal taste sounds like underdeveloped or otherwise faulty roast imho.
it may be underdeveloped and I think that's why I normally stay away from light roast because either I've never had a decent one or I can't figure out what is decent. Fruity, spicey, nutty, floral, etc are all broad ranges you can get from any roast. But what is it that separates a lighter roast from a medium to medium-dark roast? Or what is it that keeps you coming back to lighter roast? In a blind taste what immediately tells you that this is a lighter roast? I'm trying to find what the appeal is in a lighter roast to identify better what characteristics are desirable or marketable.

ojt

#4: Post by ojt »

DamianWarS wrote:But what is it that separates a lighter roast from a medium to medium-dark roast?
In my inexperience I think there are no standards for this really. Like I said in my second edit above for me medium roast is that point before it starts developing roasty aromas, whatever that means. How I separate (again because of lack of experience, and undeniable bias towards lighter roasts) medium from light is that medium roast often lacks the acidity that light roasts so readily present.

What keeps me going for light roast is the sweet and sour fruit taste. That's what I like. Even sweeter but less acidic medium roasts are a good variation to keep things interesting and I often use them for cappuccinos etc.
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DamianWarS (original poster)
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#5: Post by DamianWarS (original poster) » replying to ojt »

that's a little more clear, thanks for the input. my experiences may be lacking so I need to develop a better understanding of what makes light roast

hercdeisel
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#6: Post by hercdeisel »

I tend to find and like citrus-y notes in lighter roasts more easily than in darker roasts. I usually tend to find and enjoy berry kinds of notes more in medium-ish roasts. A nice, bright grapefruit flavor in a light roast is something I really enjoy.

I also tend to find floral notes more clearly in light roasts. I just had one that tasted so strongly like rosewater with a touch of honey on the finish that it was genuinely shocking.

Some of this is surely practice and developing a palate more but for me the lighter roast levels usually correlate with how easy it is to find certain kinds of flavors and being able to savor them.

lessthanjoey
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#7: Post by lessthanjoey »

Light roasts allow whatever flavors are in the bean to showcase. In other words, they're a lot less generic and "chocolate coffee" tasting than medium and dark roasts.

Typically they have more sweetness and acidity (although prepared properly that in no way means "sour") and have a huge gamut of fruit and floral flavors, depending on the characteristics of the raw coffee and the processing method.

When you're tasting these, how are you preparing them? Are you cupping?

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da gino

#8: Post by da gino »

I think it would be a very good idea to try cupping the coffees. That way you know roughly what the coffee should taste like without fear that you are pulling it wrong and creating off flavors. If you really dislike it when you cup it then there is no point in pulling shots of that coffee unless you are trying to train your palate for light roasts. (I evolved towards light roast the more I got into coffee, but it isn't right or wrong just preference and some of the things mentioned above).

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Brewzologist
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#9: Post by Brewzologist »

Agree in general with comments so far, but I think different beans shine better at different roast levels, especially for single-origin brewing. For example, Ethiopian naturals are often "fruit bombs" that are best appreciated in light roasts and can get dull if roasted darker. The same may not be said for a Sumatran which might be better in a more medium'ish roast level where some of the earthiness is rounded off with more caramel notes. That has been my general experience and preference in roasting both of these, so it's not a question about what roast level is best, but rather what is best for a given bean.

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keno

#10: Post by keno »

Good light roasted coffees are sweet and juicy. This imparts a wetness on the tongue and mouth. Acidity can be pleasing (juiciness) or displeasing (sour or harsh). The specific flavors of light roasted coffee can run the gamut depending upon the varietal and origin, but all good light roasts should be sweet, juicy, and balanced.

My preferred brew method for light roasted coffees is pourover (eg, V60). As Tim Wendelboe notes espresso can be very challenging with light roast due to the quick extraction time and lower solubility of light roasted coffee.
Tim Wendlelboe wrote:A light roast coffee is one where the coffee is not roasted as long or as dark as traditional dark roast coffee.

We wish to preserve and enhance as much of the natural coffee flavours as possible so that you will be able to taste the distinct flavours that is unique to each coffee we import. Therefore we roast our coffees very carefully in order not to cover our coffees with roasty aromas from darker roasts and at the same time stay away from the grassy flavors and sour acidity from an underdeveloped roast.

Our light roasted coffees are suited for all brew methods except espresso. The roast level gives a cup with clarity, brightness and sweetness with little bitterness and ashy flavours from the roast process.

If brewed as espresso on an espresso machine, the lighter roast style will result in a cup with a very high level of acidity due to the highly concentrated brew. We therefore recommend using our slightly darker roasted coffees for making espresso.