Finding Your Favorite Coffee Roast

Finding Your Favorite Coffee Roast
As creatures of habit, we often do the same thing everyday without much thought. So it goes for our coffee. A few years ago, I thought I liked only mild coffee roasts. But with all the milk I put into my coffee, these became a bit boring.

In my mind, I associated stronger coffee flavors with bitter tastes and more caffeine. This is simply not true. Bitter tastes and excessive caffeine come more from human error in making the coffee than from the roast level of the bean itself. Not making coffee with the proper ratios of water to coffee, or leaving coffee to sit for long periods of time on a hot burner—these are the real culprits here. In fact, did you know that a cup of espresso, which has a very strong and sometimes bitter taste can contain even less caffeine than a normal cup of coffee?

One day on a whim, I decided to try something that sounded good to me—rich French roast. I loved it! It was the perfect blend for my milky mix. By the way, someone once asked me if I wanted a little coffee with my milk. I was not amused. However, I am glad I found a roast that stands up well to my preferred coffee-drinking style.

I was very surprised to find out recently that that French roast is considered a medium dark roast. If I had been offered a medium dark roast by name, I would have said no thanks. In fact, I wasn’t even aware that coffee had such a rating system. I thought coffee was coffee and in simpler days I just chose my coffee by the brand name. Now every brand has a plethora of roast types.

I decided to visit the supermarket and take a look at the roast rating system on different brands. What I found was that this can get pretty confusing sometimes because there is no standard where these ratings are concerned.

Let me give you some examples:

Maxwell House

Category: Mild
Coffees under this category: Maxwell House Master Blend, Maxwell House Slow Roast, Maxwell House Master Blend Decaffeinated

Category: Medium
Coffees under this category: Original Maxwell House, Maxwell House Decaffeinated, Maxwell House Lite

Category: Medium Dark
Coffees under this category:
Maxwell House French Roast, Maxwell House French Roast Decaffeinated, Maxwell House 100% Colombian

Folgers Roast Meter:

Category: Mild
Coffees under this category: Breakfast Blend

Category: Medium-Balanced and Classic
Coffees under this category: Classic Roast, Classic Roast Decaf, Classic Roast Half Caff

Category: Medium Dark-Rich & Flavorful
Coffees under this category: 100% Columbian, French Roast

Category: Dark-Strong & Powerful
Coffees under this category: Gourmet Supreme, Gourmet Supreme Decaf

Not all brands are this clear about where their coffee lies on the scale and with each brand creating their own categories, well you can see where the confusion lies. If you were looking at the beans themselves, the darker the bean is roasted, the stronger or richer the coffee will be but you cannot judge by the pictures on the label. In the supermarket, descriptive words like mild, strong or bold will give you a clue.

However, don’t judge a coffee by its descriptive name. You may not realize that a mild coffee can be flavorful or that a strong coffee does not have to have a burnt aftertaste. The key is to experiment with different coffees and see how you like them. You might be very surprised and like me, become a French roast lover overnight.

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