Please suggest representative light / medium / dark roast coffees for learning

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.

#1: Post by jgrosjean »

I've been making espresso for a while, but don't really have a good idea of the taste and handling differences between light/medium/dark roasts. I think so far nearly everything I've been getting advertises itself as "medium".

Can you suggest three representative coffees for me to try? This time I'd like to order a batch of three representative coffees at the different roast levels. I'll have them all on hand at same time and be able to compare. I'm not looking for anything super fancy, just representative so I can start to pick out the taste and brewing differences.

Thanks for any suggestions.

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#2: Post by Doolittlej »

This is an excellent light roast espresso: ... whole-bean

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#3: Post by Jeff »

For what I consider light, as measured by a RoastVision as medium-light or light, I've had generally good luck with the following roasters' single-origin offerings over the last year (not in any order within country)

Passenger (US)
Onyx (US)
George Howell (US)
Luna (CA, ships US)

Tim Wendelboe (Norway)
La Cabra (Norway)

While these roasters generally roast medium-light to light, specific coffees may come in as medium.

There are many other good roasters that roast on the lighter end of the spectrum. I'm only listing those that I've had good luck with over the past year. Many more I have not tried during that time.

I have been disappointed by Dragonfly after their move to Nevada.

Counter Culture's Hologram measured as a medium, as a reference point.

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#4: Post by mgwolf »

Peet's Coffee on West Coast has mostly dark roasts. Their Major Dickensen's blend and their Holiday Roast (seasonal) are both very good dark blends and fairly middle of the road in terms of taste. Not "edgy" at all but more "comfort" blends. Good discount today.

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#5: Post by MNate »

Light and dark seems hard to define. The Trader Joe's thread had some insight into the difference between commercial and specialty when it comes to their naming.

That Trader Joe's Barista Blend might be the darkest end of what we think is ok (they label it Light Medium). But for me the classic profiles I'd go with are (because they are often talked about on HB and I personally like):

Darkest: Red Bird Espresso (probably no oil on it, but maybe a little)
Medium Dark: Paradise Classico
Medium Light: Olympia Big Turk or a Klatch espresso blend
Light: I think you're in the realm of the great Nordic roasters people mention above, but that may take a different barista skill to really make right.

I liked Tom Scott and James Hoffmann's video on discovering some of this, talking first thing about the level of bitterness.