Medium Roast Coffee – Smooth, Versatile and Diverse

Those are just a few of the names it goes by, all potentially different but all still medium roasts. Will Medium Roast be the roast for you? Your favourite, every morning escape? We can’t say – there is no best roast colour for everyone – but medium roast coffee has a lot to offer and are a great place to start.

If you’re new to the world of specialty coffee – may be used to grabbing a quick cup from the coffee cart at the cafeteria – medium roast coffee may seem familiar to you. You may recognize it based on its alter egos, such as breakfast roast or city roast. However, don’t let the familiarity fool you into thinking that medium roast specialty coffee doesn’t offer something incredible.

Medium roast coffee is the most common roast found in the United States. So common, in fact, it’s often referred to as the “American roast,” according to the National Coffee Association. We are finally beginning to find our footing as a coffee-drinking nation within the United States – breaking into the top 25 as a per-capita coffee drinking country in 2019. 

The US ranked as the 25th highest coffee consuming nation per World Atlas, averaging 9.26 pounds of coffee per person consumed in 2019 – paling compared to Finland’s 26.45 pounds per person. 


Beans and Taste Profile

Medium roast coffee beans have a brown colour and an occasionally oily surface – a bit more oil on a Medium-Dark roast bean. Both the body and acidity typically fall in the medium range, making for a well-rounded taste profile. 

For both the new and seasoned coffee drinkers, what often makes these roasts so versatile is that these roasts hold up moderately well to milk and sugar and are adaptable to a broad palette. We find that Colombian Medium Roast coffee is remarkably versatile for adding heavier milk products to your coffee. This coffee is a slightly darker roast with beans from Medellin, Colombia. The medium roast coffee releases just the right amount of oil to ensure that the beautiful flavour isn’t easily lost in the milk. 

What Does Medium Roast Coffee Taste Like?

When medium roasted coffee beans are brewed, they produce a light and smooth-to-drink beverage with a delicate taste. They are comparable to dark roast coffee in flavour but are much less overpowering. Instead of the burning or bitter flavours that are present in darker roasts, medium roasts have a smooth finish. They have a more intricate taste than darker roasts, making medium roasts extra special.

More about body

Concepts like the body can be challenging to understand even for coffee veterans and are not solely the product of the beans or roast. How you choose to brew your coffee can have a significant impact on the coffee body as well. Pablo Vasquez, a contributor at The Perfect Daily Grind, goes into great detail about brewing and roasting coffee for the body.

 But to summarize the essential parts for the home coffee drinker – different brewing methods can give you significant control. Methods utilizing metal filters or pressure extraction – such as French Press, cold brew, and espresso – can yield high body brews with lower clarity. The Papua New Guinea Medium Roast coffee would be wonderfully brewed as a cold brew. It is directly immersed in the water (or through a metal filter) so that the delicate oils mixed into the water yield a beautiful body and flavour. Alternatively, methods using paper filters tend to extract the coffee’s oils – such as pour-over – typically create low-body, high-clarity cups. 

You’ll notice that I even mention paper versus metal filters make a significant difference in the body because of the coffee’s oils. This means you can even have control with your automatic drip machine. Swapping paper filters for a reusable gold coffee filter (or the inverse) will allow you to craft to your preference.

Medium Roast
Medium Roast

What are the differences between medium roast coffee and other roasts?

Coffee beans that are medium roasted give greater complexity than lighter roasted beans despite not being as dark and strong as the darker ones. It is the perfect combination of light roast coffee and dark roast coffee, so you can enjoy the full-bodied flavour without being weighed down.

Light roasts typically offer a distinct flavour profile that must be loved in order to be fully appreciated. On the other hand, the richer flavour of the darker roasts often makes them unappealing for daily usage.

Because of this, a medium roast coffee bean is ideal for use in a variety of coffee makers and delectable dishes.

Specialty Coffee versus Grocery Store Coffee

It is challenging to standardize roast colours across coffee roasters. Looking at your local supermarket’s shelves, you will likely find coffees from large national chains. These mostly consist of Commercial Grade Coffee. 

As a generalization, roasters who use commercial grade coffee typically roast on the darker side of the spectrum for their “Light,” “Medium,” and “Dark” roast designations to hide inconsistencies and imperfections in lower quality beans than roasters using higher quality beans. 

So, what does this actually mean? A Starbucks Medium isn’t the same as the ones small coffee retailers are offering?

We see two primary reasons for it.

  • Better coffee beans are becoming more readily available. Not only are farmers getting better and better, but international supply chains and coffee sourcing methods are getting stronger. This puts small coffee retailers in touch with better beans than we could have ever sourced ten years ago.
  • Specialty roasters don’t have to hide low quality. The really, really dark roasts (French roasts, Italian roasts, and other roasts resembling burns) are designed to cover inferior flavours. As bean quality and consistency improve, this isn’t necessary any longer. 

This means that the overall roast scale within specialty coffee is moving lighter and better, exposing the taste of the actual coffee bean. Large, global scale operations aren’t all there yet. For them, it isn’t just a matter of bean quality but also beans consistency from batch to batch across hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A Great Place to Start

Medium roast coffee is a great place to begin your coffee journey and understand your preferences. By starting in the middle, you can always move lighter or darker while introducing your palette to a balanced cup of coffee. Additionally, the versatility will allow you the ability to experiment with all sorts of brewing methods until you find your favourites. 

To end where we started, Medium Roast coffees have a lot to offer and may end up as your favourite roast.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article about what medium roasted coffee is, and kindly leave a comment below with your ideas about the matter; I’d really want to know what you think!

Check out the articles listed on the right if you want to learn more about coffee roasting or coffee in general.

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