East London Coffee Company / Brewing  / What coffee should I buy, Light, Medium or Dark?
EL Coffee Co

What coffee should I buy, Light, Medium or Dark?

The simple answer is that you should buy the coffee that you enjoy the most. This doesn’t however do this complex subject any justice. Not unlike the chef who refuses to serve a well-done steak, many speciality coffee roasters (often called artisan roasters or third-generation roasters) will baulk at the idea of a very dark or as it is commonly referred to, an “Italian Roast.” The main reason for this is that darker roasts are dominated by the “roasting” flavours whereas the lighter roasts allow the palette of natural bean flavours to come through. So there you have it, the longer (or darker) the roast, the less you will get of the coffee flavour and the more you will get of the roasting flavour.

Millions in America converted from tear-packet instant coffee to popular chains that used a particularly dark roast. These converts therefore associated “good coffee” with the roasted flavour of this very dark roast. If you are used to a similar roast, you will probably also associate this with the true coffee taste. I stress that there is nothing wrong with this at all, particularly when used in milk-based, sweetened drinks.

I would nevertheless encourage you to experiment with lighter roasts and compare the taste. See if you notice the difference – try and pick up the somewhat sweeter flavours in the medium roast. These will be particularly evident and more appreciated in drip filters or non-pressurised brewing systems.

Cheap coffee beans

As with most things in life, one gets good quality, medium quality and absolute rubbish. Coffee beans are no exception. They are graded by number or alphabetically, depending on their source. The nature of a speciality coffee roaster is that he will usually source the best Arabica beans from known origins and roast these to achieve the best flavour. This is very different from many mass producers who sometimes use a lower quality Arabica and, worse still, a high portion of Robusta beans. By over-roasting, or roasting too far beyond what is termed the ‘second crack,’ roasters are able to camouflage the sub-optimal flavours of the poorer quality beans. Read about cheap coffee products. Read more about cheap coffee

Whole beans or ground?

In an ideal world, coffee should be brewed anytime from three days to a few weeks after roasting and immediately after grinding. Any post-grinding delay will have a significant effect on the flavour of the coffee. This doesn’t mean that you need expensive professional equipment. There are many reasonably priced grinders on the market.

“Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.”

Jessi Lane Adams
Medium Roast Light brown, no sheen
Medium to Dark Roast Dark brown/richer – no sheen
Dark to Very Dark Brown/black/Oily sheen

Our Cutman & Hawk range consists of two roast levels. Our “Signature Filter Blend” which is a medium roast and our “Signature Espresso Blend” which is a medium dark/dark roast.