The degree to which coffee is roasted is a significant factor affecting taste. Countries of origin, the grind, brew methods and ages of your beans are other variables. Beans from the same crop, roasted to different levels or temperatures, can have significantly different flavours. Below are generalizations of roast level impact on flavours.

City: Light brown in color, light body, no oil on the surface of the beans. Typically a toasted grain taste with pronounced acidity. Retains the original flavours of the bean to a greater extent than darker roasts. I take a City roast from 424 to 434 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the bean origin. If I take a roast to what I consider the lower or upper limits of the City Level, it'll be called City- or City+. Regardless, at a City Roast the beans have gone through their first crack, and no more. Other common names include Light, Cinnamon or Blond.

Full City: Medium brown in colour with more body than light roasts. They have little oil on the bean surfaces and lack the grainy taste of City roasts. This is a more balanced cup in terms of aroma and acidity. The taste can become quite fruity, spicy, with chocolate or caramel notes. This roast can produce complex, nuanced flavours that ebb and flow as the cup temperature changes. I take a Full City roast from 440-455 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the bean origin. The upper and lower limits of this level would be Full City- and Full City+. The beans have gone through their first crack, and are approaching the second crack. Other common names are Medium, Regular, American, or Breakfast.


Vienna: Medium dark brown in colour with a light sheen of oil on the surface that comes out within 24 hours of roasting. The over riding flavours are smoky, earthy, chocolate notes, with some spice. There are fewer nuances in the cup, but there can be intense body. I take Vienna roasts from 455-468 degrees Fahrenheit, completely through the second crack. Roaster temperature is turned off during the second crack. Other common names are After Dinner.

French: Dark brown in colour with an oily sheen that begins shortly after roasting is complete, and is fully evident within 48 hours. The cup profile tends more to bitter chocolate, smoke, intense earthy notes. There is little nuanced about this cup. Strong and rich, it has been described as both "Breakfast in a Cup", and a "morning slap across the face". But let's face it, some mornings aren't meant for subtle. I have only one blend - Snark Dark- that I take to a French level. This is a blend that is designed to handle the heat while maintaining the maximum flavour possible. Snark Dark is roasted between 470-474 degrees Fahrenheit. I feel anything over that is burnt, and burnt coffee is not meant for consumption. Other common names are Italian, Espresso, Continental, Spanish.


Four basic roast levels - defined by the temperature the beans are taken to. Roasts at a lower temperature are lighter in colour and produce more of the flavours indicative of where the beans were grown. These roasts can be quite nuanced and complex. Lighter roasts can be more acidic than darker roasts. As the roast temperature increases, the body of the coffee gets heavier, acidity levels decrease, and an oily sheen develops on the bean. Flavour profiles become earthier, chocolate and spicier, with underlying smoke.