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A Guide to Coffee Roast Levels

Coffee has so many wonderful variations and flavours. Knowing the difference between different coffee roast levels can help you learn more about your favourite drink and even discover new twists. We’ve broken down each roast so you know what makes them distinctive. We may even inspire you to try a different roast on your next coffee break.

Read below to find everything you need to know about coffee roast levels to help you make delightful coffee drinks at home.


What do coffee roast levels mean?

When coffee beans are harvested, they will often be green in colour. To get great-tasting coffee, these beans need to be roasted. Different temperatures can be used to create different flavours and textures for your drink. This creates different coffee roast levels, such as blonde, medium, and dark roast. 

Is there more caffeine in different roasts?

There’s a lot of discussion about whether different roasts have different levels of caffeine. This is because the different temperatures of each roast can affect their density and how much caffeine they retain. A blonde roast may be a denser bean, containing slightly more caffeine than a dark roast. Overall, though, there is no distinct difference in the caffeine amount from blonde to dark roasts. 


There is also often a mix-up between the flavour of coffee and the amount of caffeine. Bitter or richer-tasting coffee does not necessarily mean more or less caffeine. Just like making your regular coffee, the amount of caffeine depends on how many shots of coffee you choose to have. If you prefer less caffeine, your best option is to go decaf or perhaps only use half a shot in your next coffee. 

What is Blonde roast?

A blonde roast is simply a different technique for roasting coffee beans to get a lighter, milder-tasting coffee with a sweeter taste profile. In appearance, a blonde roast will look lighter than a regular coffee bean. They also require less roast time, so you can achieve that mild taste quicker.

How is blonde different to other roasts?

Compared to darker coffee roast levels, blonde roast requires a lower temperature and a quicker roast time. It’s similar to other light-roast coffee beans! Again, the colour of the bean is often lighter than other coffee beans. Compared to darker beans that have more time to roast, the shorter roast time of a blonde bean brings out the acidity more than other coffee roast levels do.

How is blonde roast made?

To create a blonde roast, the temperatures needed are between 179°C and 204°C. When roasting coffee, cracking sounds are a sign the coffee is roasting. To get a blonde roast, your beans should be ready around the first crack you will hear when roasting, but don’t let it get too far past it as it will become a darker roast. The longer beans are left the darker the roast will be. A blonde roast will often look lighter and when poured will have a thinner texture than a darker roast. 

What does blonde roast taste like?

Blonde roast coffee has a sweeter, milder taste and often has mellow notes to complement its acidity. A full body means the texture may feel thicker and creamier on the tongue. You can look at our coffee machine glossary for help with other coffee terms too. So, if you find certain coffees to be too heavy, try a blonde roast for a thinner and less textured drink. A blonde roast is excellent  in an Americano for that lighter texture but also suits a latte for a smoother texture. 


If you like the sound of a blonde roast, try our NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Blonde Roast by Starbucks® for a beautiful mellow flavour. For another light roast option, try our NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Americano Miami Morning Blend for a fruity flavour and an excellent start to your morning. 

What is a Medium roast?

Medium roast is when the coffee bean has had a longer roast and develops different flavours than the blonde roast. This is probably the coffee roast you’ll be most familiar with when ordering a coffee. This is because it has a luscious balance of richer flavours and more body, without as strong of a flavour as a dark roast. 

How is medium roast different to other roasts?

Depending on where the bean is grown, most medium roasts will have less acidity than other coffee roast levels. It’s able to be a little thinner or thicker depending on the bean's origin and a variety of flavours. Compared to other roasts, a medium one is darker in colour and has less of an oil sheen to it.

How is medium roast made?

Medium roast is reached usually after the first crack and reaches temperatures between 204°C-221°C. You can roast it for slightly longer and see what different flavours may develop!

What does medium roast taste like?

There are a lot of different flavours to experience from a medium roast. Its acidity and body can also range so there are different options depending on your preference. A medium roast can often have nutty and chocolatey flavours, which gives it sweetness and a rich taste. The body is often quite smooth but can vary and become creamy or syrupy depending on the bean. Because of that extensive  variety, this suits all types of coffee styles, from Americano to cappuccino.


If you like the sound of a medium roast, check out our NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Café au Lait Intenso which has a bold and creamy flavour profile.

What is Dark roast?

As its name suggests, this is the darkest roast you can get for your coffee bean. The dark roast will evolve your bean into a deeper taste after a longer roast time than any other bean. If you love a strong cup of coffee, a dark roast is the ideal choice for you, as it often has a smokier taste.

How is dark roast different to other coffee roasts?

In colour, a dark roast has a very dark brown bean with an oily surface. It may have more bitterness due to the long roasting time, but it has less acidity than a lighter roast and often has smoky and caramel flavours. Dark roast is also amazing as an espresso, giving you a good kick.

How is dark roast made?

For a dark roast, the beans are roasted longer between the temperatures of 221°C and 226°C. It will usually take two cracks for a dark roast to be ready. 

What does dark roast taste like?

Dark roast has many, nutty, maple and chocolate flavours, which helps create that strong taste you may like from your coffee. Dark roast also has a deeper body that adds a lovely rich texture. If you’re not a fan of bolder flavours, a dark roast might be quite strong, but you can always try it with more milk or cream to sweeten it. The good thing about this roast is that it blends well in lattes, cappuccinos and more. But a dark roast is perhaps most well known as an amazing espresso roast too. A shot of dark roast will let you explore all its rich flavours. 


For a good start to your day, try our NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Espresso Dark Roast by Starbucks® for rich caramel flavours.



We hope you found this article on the different coffee roast levels useful. Since you now know more about coffee beans, how about reading our article on 7 different coffee types next?