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Light-, Medium-, or Dark-Roast Coffee: Finding Your Ideal Brew
Along with factors such as origin, a coffee bean’s flavor depends on how it was roasted. Check out Groupon’s guide to the relationship between toasting and taste.
Coffee can be taken with cream, sugar, or on the rocks, but the strength of your morning cup depends largely on the type of beans it’s brewed from. Namely, the degree to which the beans have been roasted can transform the flavor of the coffee, changing everything from its color to its aroma. Here are the three main degrees—light, medium, and dark.
Light Roast: Sometimes called “cinnamon” or “New England” roast, lighter coffee beans spend the least amount of time exposed to heat. The resulting brew is caramel in color with a citrusy, acidic taste. Connoisseurs claim that light roasts also contain more delicate “origin” flavors—that is, the beans retain the qualities of the soil, altitude, and weather conditions where they were grown. The shorter roasting period also leaves more caffeine in the final product, although the actual amount is barely enough to give any noticeable boost to your homemade rocket fuel.
Medium Roast: As the name suggests, medium-roast coffee is all about the balance between bold flavor and smoothness. The flavor tends to be slightly sweeter and smokier than a light roast, ranging from caramel to fruit, and the color leans more toward the shade of rich brown chocolate. Medium roasts are particularly popular in the United States—in fact, they’re often labeled as “American Roast.”
Dark Roast: Black. Intense. Robust. Dark-roast coffee is the strongest of the three, dominating the palate with smoky, bittersweet taste that masks the beans’ origin flavors. But that boldness can be gentle, too—dark roasts are often lower in acid, which makes them easier on the stomach than their lighter counterparts.