How to determine if coffee is lightly roasted, more acidic?

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mdmvrockford
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#1: Post by mdmvrockford »

"Danger Will Robinson, newbie alert......."

The genesis of this question is from another thread where I was recommended lightly roasted, more acidic bean La Marzocco Strada (VST) basket with Quickmill Alexia PID & Mazzer Super Jolly.

I have now started calling each roaster I buy my beans from to get their light roasted more acidic offerings.

But besides doing this, for my own curiosity, is there way to tell how that particular bean is roasted e.g is there way to tell looking at the bean or by its aroma or by its oiliness/sheen? I ask because in reading the description for each roaster, there is often NO mention of roast style and acidity. For example from the other thread La Marzocco Strada (VST) basket with Quickmill Alexia PID & Mazzer Super Jolly, I was told Black Cat and Espresso Toscano are light roasted but in review of the Intelligentsia and Counter Culture website, respectively, there is no mention of this either description. Toscano http://my.counterculturecoffee.com/coff ... scano.html and Black Cat http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/pro ... at-project

Only sites like Ken David's coffeereview.com will specifically mention this. Google searching this HB site for "lightly roasted beans" and "light roasts" and "list of light roast" does not bring up list of specific list of XYY beans are lightly roasted.

Looking at my current Paradise Roasters Espresso Nuevo (dark roast listed on bag) and my on deck espresso (Johnson Brothers Ehthiopia Yirchacheffe (medium roast listed on bag)) I just cannot see visibly any difference. Unfortunately I have no stated light roast bean to directly compare to. I am glad I am not a roaster.

If I am totally missing something in my search then please tell me...again remember newbie alert..... :oops:
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tekomino

#2: Post by tekomino »

Lot of them don't mention this but usually Single Origins are lightly roasted. So try:

- Ritual both seasonal and sweet-tooth are lighter.
- Coava, sells single origins only and they are lightly roasted
- Four Barrel Friendo Blendo
- Black Cat

That is from top of my head. Others will have much more I am sure. Hope this helps.
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Compass Coffee
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#3: Post by Compass Coffee »

When it comes to roast levels terms like "medium, dark, light, City, Full City" etc. are ambiguous at best because of varying interpretations of the term. The most accurate descriptor is by ground color using the Agtron system. But they cost many many thousands of dollars and few smaller roasters have one! Finish temperature in degrees is also a means of determining roast level, combined with how the roast profile got it there of course. We list the finish degree of roast for all our coffees rather than using ambiguous terms.

Generally speaking the lighter the degree of roast the higher the acidity, for the same coffee.
Mike McGinness, Head Bean (Owner/Roast Master)
http://www.CompassCoffeeRoasting.com

mdmvrockford (original poster)
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#4: Post by mdmvrockford (original poster) »

Compass Coffee wrote:When it comes to roast levels terms like "medium, dark, light, City, Full City" etc. are ambiguous at best because of varying interpretations of the term. The most accurate descriptor is by ground color using the Agtron system. But they cost many many thousands of dollars and few smaller roasters have one!.......
Thank you Compass Coffee for your explanation. I suspected it was somewhat ambiguous. I just sent you a PM.
tekomino wrote:Lot of them don't mention this but usually Single Origins are lightly roasted. So try:
- Ritual both seasonal and sweet-tooth are lighter.
- Coava, sells single origins only and they are lightly roasted
- Four Barrel Friendo Blendo
- Black Cat

That is from top of my head. Others will have much more I am sure. Hope this helps.
Thanks tekomino. I haven't tried Black Cat in a while and not yet with the LM Strada basket. After done with current Paradise Roasters Nuevo then its onto already purchased (and in deep freeze) single origin Ethiopia Yirgacheffe (listed as medium roast on bag) from Johnson Brothers in Madison, WI.
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Sherman

#5: Post by Sherman »

Sweet Maria's has a pictorial showing different degrees of roast according to their definitions of City, City+, Full City, etc. Not sure if they have an issue with hotlinking, so I'll direct you to the Library section of their website.

The best way that I've found to discern different roast levels is to start home roasting and try to roast as lightly as possible, then progressing to darker roasts. I started out by using SM's visual guide to roasting and used it to calibrate my own tastes. Nothing beats experience, but if you're not interested or willing to take that jump, it's a good place to start.

As a (one of several) general rule, color is one of the more immediate indicators of a roast level, but it is not an independent variable - processing method, varietal, roasting method, all of these things affect the color of a roasted bean. Examining bean surface (lighter roasts tend to have more wrinkled surfaces with little to no surface oil appearing until after several days' time) can also be useful, but again it's dependent on roast date. Darker roasts may appear darker and oil will appear on the bean surface sooner after roasting than lighter roasts. Biting into a roasted bean can also give some information - darker roasts will have expanded the beans more; the bean will be more brittle, whereas lighter roasts will tend to be more dense. Again, these are generalities. Experience will tell you more than anything that we can write here.
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Sherman

#6: Post by Sherman »

Compass Coffee wrote:Generally speaking the lighter the degree of roast the higher the acidity, for the same coffee.
+1. It's a bonus if you can get the same bean roasted to different levels.
Your dog wants espresso.
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time8theuniverse

#7: Post by time8theuniverse »

Talking to the roaster is the best place to start. To me roasting still seems like a dark art but even in the large (motivated by good coffee) companies I have found that the roasters will always take the time to explain what is going on with the current batch of beans. Coffee is always open to interpretation, except when its bad.
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mdmvrockford (original poster)
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#8: Post by mdmvrockford (original poster) » replying to time8theuniverse »

Thanks for the reply.

As stated in my original post, I have started to call each roaster. However for my own curiosity I wanted to know what characteristics to look for.

Compass Coffee mentions the Agtron system as most accurate descriptor. I just went back and looked at Mr. Ken Davids' site (coffeereview.com) and he does list an Agrton score for each bean reviewed and gives description interpretation. Also Mr. Davids gives roast description too.
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Peppersass
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#9: Post by Peppersass »

Try some of the single origin coffees produced by Terroir (George Howell's company.)

http://www.terroircoffee.com

Terroir produces some of the lightest roasted coffees I've seen. If you want bright, acidic coffee, try the Ethiopian SOs.

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farmroast

#10: Post by farmroast »

Compass Coffee wrote:When it comes to roast levels terms like "medium, dark, light, City, Full City" etc. are ambiguous at best because of varying interpretations of the term. The most accurate descriptor is by ground color using the Agtron system. But they cost many many thousands of dollars and few smaller roasters have one! Finish temperature in degrees is also a means of determining roast level, combined with how the roast profile got it there of course. We list the finish degree of roast for all our coffees rather than using ambiguous terms.

Generally speaking the lighter the degree of roast the higher the acidity, for the same coffee.
Agreed, I'd only add that the comparison of surface color and ground color can be a little telling of the profile and MET used and what might be expected in the cup.
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