Light roast coffee is not for everyone. It has different flavours than dark roast because it is more vibrant and has less oil, but it can also seem watery or sourer to some. In addition to providing background information on light roast coffee, Helena Coffee has compiled a list of the best, lightest coffee ideas worth brewing.
What is a light roast coffee?
Light roast coffee is a multilayer of complexity. Roasting lightly can reveal the origin of coffee beans, making profiling coffee easier for its sweetness, fruity, and floral tones. Though the terms used in describing the roasting process vary among coffee roasters and companies, there are simple ways to determine the roasting options you prefer. They include the following:
American roast: Coffee beans are medium roasted. It’s a roast that creates a moderate brew with a vibrant flavour that is not too light nor too heavy.
French roast: The coffee beans resemble the colour of dark chocolate. It is full-bodied and has a more pungent taste with delectable bitterness.
Italian roast: Italian coffee is glossy, brown to black. It’s vibrant, solid and heavy. It’s the most preferred roast for espresso drinks.
Light Roast Coffee is generally golden brown. It has a distinguishing light body and an oil-free surface. The coffee beans never reach the second crack during the roasting process. That’s how the natural flavours of the beans remain – they are more “raw” than a darker roast. The caffeine level is a bit higher compared to medium and dark roast.
7 Lightest roast coffees to try
We’ve rounded up 7 of the best light roast coffee beans on offer, so you can skip the head-scratching and start sipping your way to better coffee.
At JavaPresse, we believe coffee is a gateway for more — we want to transform your favourite coffee ritual into an extraordinary daily experience filled with joy (and caffeine). We produce high-quality, seriously delicious coffee while supporting communities and empowering farmers.
Our original flagship coffee, Extra Mile, is light and complex with a juicy body worth sipping and savouring.
- It tastes like: Rich dark chocolate, citrus, tropical fruit.
- Origin: Narino, Colombia
We’re also proud to support the farmers behind this coffee in Colombia who destroyed their coca farms to exit the drug trade. This coffee was grown in its place, and every bag sold helps those farmers build a better life for their families and community—you can read the full impact story here.
This is Equator Coffee’s seasonal light blend, bright with tangy raspberry notes and maple sweetness. Though it’s a blend of leftover beans from the current season, this season’s iteration is super delicious.
- It tastes like: Raspberry, maple, and apricot
- Origin: Kenya, Guatemala, Ethiopia
This medium-light roast is a single origin from Ethiopia. It’s naturally processed, meaning the coffee beans are left to dry inside the coffee fruit (rather than be separated and dried). The result is a pretty boldly fruity coffee with a heavy body.
- Tastes like: Berry – Lingering Finish
- Origin: Guji, Oromia, Ethiopia
Amavida’s Animo blend has more of a classic light roast profile. Though what it lacks in wild flavour, it makes up for in simplicity and comfort. It brews a smooth cup with lovely acidity and a clean finish.
- Tastes like: Crisp, lively, clean
- Origin: San Marcos, Cajamarca
This blend of coffees from Guatemala and Ethiopia produces a citrus-forward flavour and a sugarcane sweetness. It’s an excellent pick for coffee lovers who want some pop and zing in their morning cup.
- Tastes like: Lychee, Mandarin Orange, Vibrant
- Origin: Sidama, Ethiopia
White Rock is a lesser-known roaster, but their coffee speaks for itself. This Colombian bean features a complex candy-like profile and a lower chocolate note that balances it all out.
- It tastes like: Cherry candy, jammy pineapple, floral honey, chocolate
- Origin: Tolima, Colombia
Joe Coffee’s single origin Guatemala is another classic take on the daily drinker’s light roast with a sweet and creamy profile, followed by a hint of delicate fruity notes.
- Tastes like: Crème brûlée, cherry, pear
- Origin: Antigua, Guatemala
Dark vs Light roast coffee
Dark roast beans have been the roasting standard for most of coffee’s history. The beans, roasted to 465°F or until the ‘second crack’, end up a dark brown and have a glossy film of oil coating the surface.
With the evolution of roasting science and new technology, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to coax new, fresh flavours out of coffee beans by burning them lightly. If you’re a dark roast lover looking to try something different, a light roast might surprise you.
Quick dark roast facts:
- The long roasting process produces a coffee with a robust entire body and plenty of smoky, dark chocolate roasted nut flavours.
- A dark roast can mask the flavour of low-quality beans and make them taste the same — bitter, earthy, nutty, a little charred, and often one-note.
- Mass coffee producers tend to favour dark roast beans because they can mix and match different beans and cover any variances in flavour. Simply put, it’s easier for them.
- If you love the taste of diner coffee, dark roast is for you. That classic, robust, inky cup we imagine when we think coffee is typical of a dark roast bean.
In contrast, the lesser roasting time for light roast beans produces an aromatic, complex coffee with bright acidity and fruity, floral notes.
How to pick light roast beans
Selecting a light coffee you’ll love can be trickier than buying a standard dark roast. Since light roasts display the coffee bean’s natural flavours more strongly than other roasts, there’s much more diversity in flavours. And, unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to get wrong than a super dark and toasty roast. It can be hard to know where to start if you’re new to light roasts. We’ve rounded up some helpful tips for you to consider when shopping for your next batch of beans.
Find a reputable roaster
Along the same lines, you should buy from a reputable roaster. How and where the bean was grown makes a big difference, but so does the roasting style. Not all light roasts are created equal, and some roasters will inevitably have a better technique than others. Poorly done light roasts can be overly sour, astringent, or one-dimensional.
Pay attention to the flavour notes
Another key to picking an excellent light roast is to pay attention to the flavour notes. These will be much more pronounced than your average dark roast, so make sure it’s something you like. If you’re not a fan of floral notes, try to find a light roast with more of a fruity or sweet flavour profile. There is a ton of variety to choose from across light roasts, which is why coffee lovers get so excited about them.
Look into the bean’s origin
Single origin beans are particularly exciting to try as a light roast. You’ll get the full, pure taste of that specific bean which can have some exciting flavours. Each growing region has its unique qualities. Central and South AmericaBeans are often balanced, bright, and sweet. Africa produces more fruity, floral, and earthy beans. And you can expect Indonesian beans to be a little more wild, spicy, and intense. Knowing a little about the origin of your beans can help you better determine which ones you’ll like.
If you have a bad cup of light coffee, don’t let it put you off! Each mug can be a vastly different experience since there are many flavours. You may try a few different kinds before finding one you like. But with so many options, most coffee lovers are bound to find a light roast they love.