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Article: What We Mean by Medium Roast Coffee & How it’s Far from Average

What We Mean by Medium Roast Coffee & How it’s Far from Average

Many factors determine the taste of coffee, and the degree to which coffee beans are roasted is perhaps the most important. Before the roasting process, coffee beans are green, soft, and have very little taste. The roasting process takes the simplicity of the raw, green beans and transforms them into the flavorful and aromatic coffee we all know and love. Coffee roast levels are most commonly described by their color, varying from light to dark. One of the most beloved roast profiles is the medium roast. Medium roasted coffees are what you frequently find at the grocery store and are an excellent middle ground for those being introduced to coffee. That is not to say that medium roasts are simple or lack a specialty-grade label. In fact, one of our best-selling coffees of all time at Sagebrush is a medium roast.

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While roasting, we use our sense of sound, smell, and sight to determine the ideal roast profile. Using our  fluid-bed roasters, the coffee beans are exposed to heat within a chamber and expand in size, similar to popcorn. As the beans release moisture and carbon monoxide, they produce an audible cue that sounds like cracking or popping. For medium roast coffees, we want the beans to clear the first crack but not make it all the way to the second crack. The previously bumpy exterior is beginning to smoothen out, and the edges of the beans become soft. As the name of the roast implies, the beans become a medium brown color, and although we roast them longer than a light roast, the surface should be clear of any oils. If there is an oily sheen, I have roasted the beans too long. For wet-processed (washed) coffees, a white stripe in the crack of the bean will appear when the roast is complete. The increased roast time will produce a caramelization effect known as the Maillard Reaction. The Maillard Reaction is the same response that occurs in the browning of meats. 

Coffee's processing method is determined after the beans are harvested. It is the final step before it is shipped out to roasters. The three main ways coffee is processed is natural (dry-process), washed (wet-process), and honey (pulped-natural). The processing method is a significant component of the overall structure and flavor of the coffee. For medium roast coffees, the natural processing method will bring out more of the fruity and floral elements of the bean. A natural coffee will contain flavors from the plant it grows from, while the washed process will highlight the natural taste of the beans themselves. Many washed coffees have more earthy, nutty, and chocolatey qualities. As for the honey-processed method, the coffee beans will produce a sweeter and more syrupy brew. Of these three methods, the washed process is the most popular, and many of the medium roasts you find will use that method.

Medium roast coffees are well-loved for their rounded flavor profile and balanced body. They are less acidic and fruity than a light roast but not as rich as a dark roast. The words often used to describe the taste of medium coffees are sweet, chocolatey, mellow, and smooth. The flavor notes you discover from medium roasts are some of the most versatile you can find. Medium roast coffees do an exceptional job of maintaining some of the natural flavors of the coffee's origin while adding a boost of richness and sweetness.

In general, the longer a coffee bean is roasted, the more its flavor will evolve. Every time we receive a new coffee, we experiment with time and temperature until we achieve the desired result. For most coffees, we roast medium as a starting ground and then decide from there to go lighter or darker. We guess you could say medium roasts are our “go-to.” If you are trying to figure out which coffee roast to buy, a medium roast is a tasty and reliable place to start. We love medium roast coffees because they are approachable to all coffee drinkers. If roasted correctly, the local flavors of the bean and uniqueness of the cup will still be enjoyed. The coffees are so full-bodied, and the taste is so smooth, you can never go wrong with a medium roast selection. 

Enjoy the balanced flavors and sweet aromas for yourself with our collection of Medium Roasted Coffees.

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