The secret to developing the flavour and aroma of coffee is found in the roasting of the coffee beans. The length of time and temperature of the roast is critical, to develop a quality cup of coffee. Coffee roasting is an art. If coffee roasting is too short to bring out the oils, the coffee will have a nutty flavour and lack consistency. Darker roasts, which produce stronger coffee, are achieved through longer roasting periods or by utilizing higher temperatures.

Types of Roasts

Light Roasts

Light brown in color, this roast is generally preferred for milder coffee varieties. There will be no oil on the surface of these beans because they are not roasted long enough for the oils to break through to the surface.

CINNAMON ROAST – Light cinnamon brown colour; pronounced nut-like flavour and the highest point of coffee acidity. This is a light roast.

Medium Roasts

This roast is medium brown in color with a stronger flavor and a non-oily surface. It’s often referred to as the American roast because it is generally preferred in the United States.

AMERICAN ROAST – Even chestnut brown; has a pronounced caramel-like flavour, with no trace of dark roast flavour.

CITY ROAST – Dark brown with no traces of oil on the surface; full development of coffee flavour (caramel to chocolate-like with some hints of dark roast flavour) and some loss of coffee acidity. The “Full City Roast” is slightly darker with more tang.

Dark Roasts

This roast produces shiny black beans with an oily surface and a pronounced bitterness. The darker the roast, the less acidity will be found in the coffee beverage. Dark roast coffees run from slightly dark to charred.

FRENCH ROAST – Very dark brown with large amounts of oil on the bean’s surface; a bitter taste and pungent aromatics dominate flavour. (Also known as New Orleans or Continental Roast.)

VIENNA ROAST – Dark brown with small amounts of oil on the bean’s surface; noticeable dark roast flavour.

ESPRESSO ROAST – Designed for espresso machines, it is a dark roast similar to a Full City Roast.

ITALIAN ROAST – Black colour with large amounts of oil on the bean’s surface; pronounced burnt flavour that is pungent (strong) and bitter.

AFTER-DINNER ROAST – A coffee that has been roasted to a dark, but less than very dark brown colour. It has a somewhat oily surface. An after-dinner roast lends a bittersweet, tangy flavour to the beans.

Naturally Forming Compounds

During the roasting process, some naturally forming compounds can occur (eg. Furan, Acrylamide, Ochratoxin A, Diacetyl). The CAC works closely with Health Canada to monitor any findings related to coffee. The CAC educates our members about issues that may affect the production process, with consumer and employee safety being top of mind.
“The finding of a chemical in food does not automatically lead to the conclusion that there is an unacceptable health risk to humans. Most chemicals are found in food at such low levels that they do not pose a safety concern and therefore the establishment of maximum levels is not required. Levels of chemicals in food are monitored through regular surveillance activities by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Surveillance data are used to help identify potential contamination issues and, when warranted, appropriate risk management strategies are developed.”
- Health Canada
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