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What is medium roast coffee?


What is medium roast coffee?

Posted by Pumphreys Coffee ,25th Jul 2022
What is medium roast coffee?

Whether you’re an avid coffee drinker or a more casual coffee fan, everyone is looking for the beans and type of coffee that they’ll like best. In recent years, there has been a shift when it comes to coffee preferences, and with that shift many different roasting styles have reached the market, often with little explanation to consumers.

In this article, we’ll be looking at what mostly dictates what you can actually taste in your coffee, the roast colour as it is often known and get to the bottom of what medium roast coffee is.

Light roasts

Without delving into the intricacies of coffee roasting, ‘light roast’ or ‘lightly roasted’ usually refers to the colour of the roasted coffee beans when they have been removed from the roaster. This sounds fairly simple, but there can be a lot of fine tuning involved when you’re on the production side of things. A big part of mastering coffee roasting comes from being able to hit a high level of consistency from roast to roast in both colour and bean development, of (normally many) different coffee beans.

Light roasted beans will be a light shade of brown in colour and will be significantly lighter than many coffee drinkers have ever seen, especially given the way in which mass market coffee has been roasted previously.

Light roast beans that you can find in the specialty coffee market, will typically follow the flavour characteristics described below.

coffee roast

Flavour characteristics

  • Higher levels of acidity than darker roasts
  • More likely to convey delicately subtle flavours like those typically described on coffee tasting notes
  • Very aromatic when ground and used within the recommended period after roasting
  • Low levels of bitterness
  • Less body than darker roasts
  • Will often have a sweet flavour (when roasted, stored, and brewed as intended)

Medium roasts

As you can probably guess, medium roast coffee involves the beans being roasted for a bit longer than the light roasts, but not much longer. This means the beans will have a slightly darker colour than those that have been lightly roasted.

After the first crack (a popping noise that happens when the beans expand and release water vapour and CO2 pressure) in a coffee roast, the beans start to develop flavours resembling those of the sugar browning aromatic category with hints of roasted nuts, vanilla, and butter.

The good thing about medium roasted beans is that they will develop their flavour well whilst not compromising too much of the coffee’s natural acidity or aromas. If a coffee is medium roasted, the likelihood is the process led to more body and sweetness for which this level of roasting is ideal for.

coffee beans

Flavour characteristics

  • Milder and lower levels of acidity than in lighter roasts but still a notable feature of medium roasted beans
  • Delicately integrated flavours are still present but less prominent than lighter roasts
  • Higher levels of bitterness than light roasts but still low overall
  • More body than its predecessor, offering a solid base for most common UK café’s drinks, served with milk, or brewed to focus on the body of flavour
  • The flavour is more rounded overall, with more of a traditional coffee flavour amongst the other delicious notes


Medium roasts are very popular in the speciality coffee industry because of their accessibility and capability for use in a range of brewing methods while keeping flavour and character. The flavours are palatable and enjoyable for most preferences. The stronger acidity and flavours found in lighter roasts are somewhat lessened, meaning there is more of an easy-drinking experience and well-rounded flavour for consumers.

Dark roasts

Lastly, we come to the darkly roasted coffees. Coffees found easily in common markets have been roast to this level and there is still a large audience for it around the world. It makes the beans darker in colour and is the most recognisable and commonly found roast degree in history.

Dark roasting is often used to cover defective and lower grade coffees. It does this by using a dark roast profile the coffee has reached a point where you wouldn’t be able to taste any of the intrinsic features. This explains the popularity of dark roast coffee amongst the commercial market.

Flavour characteristics

  • Low levels of acidity
  • Limited delicate nuances of flavour noticeable if any
  • Dark roasts have an iconic aroma that is familiar to many, with a varying intensity depending on the specific type of coffee roasted and the level of darkness
  • Less sweetness
  • High levels of bitterness compared to the other roasts


It is only by comparing all the different roast types, can you get a true insight into what medium roast coffee is. At Pumphreys coffee we provide a wide range of high-quality coffee beans in Newcastle so you can find the right brew for you.