Not all roasts are created equal


Why is it that a cup of the world renowned Kopi Luwak charges upwards of 35$ (230 dkk) a cup while diners in America serve coffee with free refills for less than 1$ (7 dkk). This divide breaks the myth that all coffee is created equal. In fact, even the best beans can go to waste with the wrong roast.

A few weeks ago, we introduced the idea that there are certain aspects to specialty coffee that make it worth investing in. Possibly the easiest way to tell the difference between high quality coffee and regular run-of-the-mill brew is the way that it is roasted.

Light Roasted beans on Kalita pour over method

Have you ever heard someone refer to coffee as having a fruity flavor with hints of apricot or maybe it’s more flowery with hints of rose? If you are under the belief that all coffee tastes the same, then chances are you’ve been living on the dark side, or at least on the dark roast. While dark roasting is not necessarily a negative thing, it will inhibit you from tasting these specific notes that specialty coffee roasters pride themselves in.

*In fact, there are dozens of actual official words that can be used to explain the aroma, the taste and even the “feeling” of a cup of coffee. (Want to sound like a coffee pro, here’s your cheat sheet straight from the Specialty Coffee Roasters of America)

During a conversation with Brady from Olympia Coffee Roasting, he told me:

“The difference between dark roasted coffee and light roasted coffee is like the difference between a fresh apple and mass produced applesauce. Mass produced applesauce is made with apples that don't meet the quality standards to be sold on the shelf so they become this homogenous other product. With fresh apples you can taste the difference between a Granny Smith and a Fuji as well as the difference between under ripe and rotten.”

Light Roasted coffee at making in La Cabra Coffee Roasters Aarhus - Denmark

In the same way, a dark roast is typically coming from lower grade beans that might have been left out too long or have started to ferment. This does not mean that all dark roasts produce bad coffee, but in general, a roaster would not let high quality coffee go to waste by roasting it too dark.

If you have been living on “applesauce” for awhile now, consider switching to a lighter roast and notice the change in reaction to your senses (bonus points if you can find the roast that tastes like dark-chocolate) 

Madeline MacDonald
Hi, I'm Madeline! I'm a travel junkie from the roasting capital of Seattle, trying to live a better story with what I consume, including coffee. 


  • Herman

    Why involve kopi luwak at all in this story? It’s animal cruelty. I don’t think it’s “world renowned” at all in the specialty coffee world…

  • Matias

    That is a great article Madeline. I have been on the “light” side for over a year now, after I had my first speciality coffee experience in Berlin. Happy to see that more and more places like that opening up all around Germany, where I live.
    Regards, Matias

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