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What Does Coffee Roast Level Really Mean for Flavor? Part 2: Medium Roast

March 2, 2018

Medium Roast

| By Savannah Phillips |

Editor’s Note: This blog series examines the specific misconceptions that many hold about light, medium and dark roast coffee and how these roast levels translate into the final flavor profile once it has been brewed and reached your cup. Our hope with this series is that you’ll walk away with a better understanding of the type of coffee flavors that you prefer so you can more easily find it when purchasing specialty coffee to brew at home.

This week in this blog series, I’m tackling “medium roast” coffees. These tend to be the most popular for the majority of coffee drinkers out there because they most commonly have more balance with a combination of acidity, sweetness and body.

If you recall my description on light roasts, they tend to be much more acidic, fruity, and have more sharp or bright citrus flavors. Medium roasts, on the other hand, have more flavors of caramel, cocoa, chocolate and nuttiness. This is due to the caramelization of the sugars that occur as the coffee beans continue roasting, which in turn increases sweetness and overall tactile feeling or “body”.

Here at Cafe Virtuoso, the bulk of the coffees we produce are medium roasts because they are so well balanced, especially when roasted to the specific level that brings out the best characteristics of each of the varying types of coffees we sell.

Roasting coffee is a science and knowing how to roast a specific type of coffee bean is essential for optimum flavor development. For example, An Ethiopian coffee is going to have a different roasting profile than a coffee from Guatemala, and both of those should be roasted very differently than a coffee from Peru even if they are all roasted to what is considered “medium”. Compare this with the “terroir” in wine. Each region produces a different flavor profile due to growing conditions, water, soil and how the coffee is processed, and must therefore be treated with special awareness and care when roasting to best highlight these attributes.

The same goes for coffee blends. Up until this point, I’ve only been referring to roasting “single origin” coffees, but blends are also very popular and are offered to create complexity and consistency. Some coffees compliment each other quite nicely because of certain flavor profiles. This is also very critical to be able to understand what types of coffee do compliment each other and to know how to roast these accordingly as well. It should be noted that in all of our blends, two or more of the coffees are roasted simultaneously, and the additional component is roasted separately (as it should be) to add complexity, and so that that coffee maintains its own unique attributes within the blend as a whole.

You can find some really great examples of blends with our Virtuoso Espresso, Portofino Roast, and Cold Brew Blend. They are formulated with various beans from differing regions, each to contribute specific qualities in flavor or for a specific method of brewing preparation (e.g. cold brew, espresso).

We hope that you enjoy our coffees are much as we do and that you can taste the love that we craft with every batch we roast. If you’re interested in trying some of our medium roast coffees, either single origin or blends, we invite you to come in to our cafe and also shop coffee beans in our online store.

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Savannah Phillips

Quality Control
A Level-Two Certified Barista, native Northwesterner turned So-Cal girl, Savannah is also addicted to yoga, hiking, meditation and long drives up Coast Highway 101. She doesn’t remember ever not loving coffee. Even as a child, when most other kids typically hate the taste, it was something she craved, which looking back, was unquestionably an early prediction of a career devoted to specialty coffee.

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