Guide to medium roast coffee and all that you want to know about it, the roasting, origin, flavor, and medium roast coffee characteristics.
Medium Roast Coffee
Somewhere between the light-bodied, sharper tastes of light roast coffee and the oily, caramelized characteristics of dark roast coffee are considered medium roast coffees. Medium roast coffees start at being beverages with distinguishable coffee bean flavors to being drinks that start to show the complex flavors of the roasting process. But what are medium roast coffees, and how are they made? This article will explore medium roast coffees and their products and distinguish them from the light and dark roast coffee varieties.
What Is Medium Roast Coffee?
Medium roast coffee is a coffee variety resulting from heating green coffee beans to specific temperatures. These temperatures generally range from 410 degrees Fahrenheit to 437 degrees Fahrenheit.
This contrasts to light roast coffees — which are roasted at temperatures from 385 to 410 degrees Fahrenheit, and dark roast coffees, which are roasted at temperatures starting at 437 degrees Fahrenheit up to 473 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, unlike these other roasts, medium roast coffees can be divided into two further categories. These are medium roast and medium-dark roast varieties.
Medium roasts are generally close to the 410-degree mark, while medium-dark roasts are roasts that approach the 437-degree mark. Though this classification is made clear in some sources, it is not recognized in others — so it is not a very hard category distinction. Essentially, in casual terms, both of these coffees can be considered medium roast coffees.
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Texture, Density, and Color of Medium Roast Coffee
Medium roast coffee beans range from a medium-light clay-brown color to medium-dark brown colors that resemble bittersweet chocolate chips. They can range from being slightly acidic in smell to having hints of roasted caramelization in their aroma.
Medium roast coffee beans are, for the most part, dry to the touch. As their properties approach that of the medium-dark roast, their surfaces may contain tiny amounts of oil. Medium roast coffee beans are not as dense or large as light roast coffee beans. Conversely, they are not as light or small as dark roast coffee beans.
Caffeine Levels pf Medium Roast Coffee
Medium roast coffee beans have a caffeine level of about 1.31% — equal to that of dark roast coffee beans. As light roast coffee beans are somewhat denser than either medium or dark roast beans, they have slightly more caffeine. In most cases, though, this difference is insignificant.
Composition of Medium Roast Coffee
Medium roast coffee is less acidic than light roast coffee. It also has the potential to contain more carbon/caramelization than lighter roast varieties.
Types of Medium Roast Coffee
As stated before, medium roast coffees can be divided into the medium roast and medium-dark roast varieties.
Medium Roast Coffee Variety Examples
Medium roast varieties can include:
• American Roast – A roast that is light brown in color, mildly acidic, and whose flavors reflect the originating coffee beans,
• Medium Roast – A roast that is somewhat sweeter than light roasts and has balanced acidic and aromatic properties, and
• High Roast – A smoky-sweet flavor roast that balances acidity with bitterness.
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Medium-dark roasts can include:
• City Roast – Prepared at 426 degrees Fahrenheit, roasted flavors, but originating coffee beans can still be determined, and
• Full City Roast – Prepared at 437 degrees Fahrenheit, has a full-body, full roast flavor, and is slightly oily on the surface.
How Is Medium Roast Coffee Produced?
Heating green coffee beans make medium roast coffee to a specific range of temperatures, namely 410 to 437 degrees Fahrenheit.
Green coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee plant’s fruit (usually Coffea arabica or Coffea robusta). These seeds, or “beans,” have been removed from their fruit and processed to remove any moist pulp that surrounds their exterior — through either a wet or dry process.
Once this process is finished, the green coffee beans are cleaned and are ready for roasting. They are put into a roasting machine and heated.
At 385 degrees Fahrenheit, the beans experience what is called the “first crack” — that is, they expand to the point of making an audible cracking noise. At this point, most of the bean’s moisture has been evaporated, and the bean has expanded to some degree. This is the temperature where light roast coffees are produced.
At 410 degrees Fahrenheit, the beans have roasted long enough to be considered medium roast. The lightest medium roast, American Roast, has some acidity — and this quality reduces as the beans are exposed to higher temperatures. This, and the gradual caramelization of the beans, brings some sweetness to medium roast flavors.
At 437 degrees Fahrenheit, the beans approach what is considered the “second crack.” This is when the beans make another cracking sound — and start to contract. The roasting flavors are prominent at this point. The darkest of medium roast coffees are heated to the “second crack,” or just beyond it.
Once the coffee beans have been heated to the desired temperatures, they are cooled and packaged. They are now ready to be ground, brewed, and enjoyed.
What Does Medium Roast Coffee Taste Like?
Medium roast coffee varies in flavor. The lightest varieties have a subdued acidic taste, and their original coffee bean variety is distinguishable.
The darker varieties have a more pronounced roasted flavor and approach a balanced to balanced-roasted taste. They have some bittersweet flavors and may have slightly oily surfaces.
Is Medium Roast Coffee Less Bitter?
Medium roast coffee is more bitter than light roast coffee but less bitter than dark roast coffee. In general, the darker the roast is, the more bitter the coffee — though this can vary because of proportions and preparation.
Medium roast coffee is a trendy coffee variety (indeed, it is the most preferred coffee in the United States) and perhaps for a good reason. With a balance of roasted flavors, slight sweetness, and ever-decreasing acidity, medium roast coffee approaches a complexity almost unmatched by other roasts — and is a good choice for beginners and experienced coffee-drinkers alike.
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