The Ultimate Guide to Medium Roast Coffee: All Questions Answered

medium roast coffee

You’ve probably never heard someone say “I only drink medium roast coffee.” We mostly hear of light roast lovers and dark roast devotees. Meanwhile, there’s a totally delicious and distinct coffee in the middle waiting to be experienced. 

To love a medium roast is to appreciate harmony and nuance, so we’re diving into all things medium roast coffee so you can discover its wacky flavors and delicious quirks.

Read on to see: 

  • How medium roast is the funky middle child of coffee roasts
  • The most underrated flavor notes of medium roast coffee
  • Why coffee pros often recommend medium roast

Once we’re finished, you’ll have an appreciation for a coffee that is not just the middle ground between two extremes, but its own distinct flavor.

Read on to see what’s to love about the brilliant and reliable coffee.

What Is Medium Roast Coffee?

Coffee roasting is the process of turning green coffee beans into brown ones. The easiest way to tell different roasts apart is by looking at the color and texture of the roasted coffee beans. 

Medium roast coffees are medium brown in color, with no oil on the bean surface. Medium roast tends to be sweeter than light roast, with more body and a balanced acidity. This is the beautiful result of natural coffee flavors in harmony with an even, smooth flavor.  

Where Does Medium Roast Coffee Come From?

If you haven’t noticed, we’re living in a new coffee world these days. “Specialty Coffee” shops have opened in every corner of the world, serving curated menus of small-batch roasted beans.

Improvements in coffee science and technology are to thank for this change in coffee culture. Higher quality coffee has become more accessible due to improved farming practices, and roasting technique has risen to meet the challenge of doing the beans justice. 

The roasting style now known as medium roast was the first foray into the world of roasting to taste. By not roasting so dark, we were able to taste the natural characteristics of the coffee bean without the burnt flavor of the roast. 

While dark roast remained the old standby, this new style of roasting became very popular in pockets around the globe. Eventually, roasting styles went even lighter, to what is now known as light roast. 

Many specialty coffee shops only serve medium to light roast coffees, hoping to share the possibility of subtle, natural flavors in coffee. In these settings medium roast acts as a “gateway coffee” for dark roast drinkers: it offers familiar dark roast flavors mixed with exciting notes of fruits, nuts and grains. 

Medium Roast Coffee Flavors: What Are We Talkin’?

Medium roast might bring to mind the tale of Goldilocks and the three bears— the “just right” roast between light and dark. But that doesn’t mean it’s just a mix between light and dark roast. 

We’d like to suggest that medium roast is more like the funky middle child of coffee roasts. It has the dependability and versatility of older dark roast with the playfulness of younger light roast

In other words, all the expected flavors plus some exciting ones that make you go “Wow that’s a really good cup of coffee.” 

Sweet 

  • Oats
  • Brown sugar
  • Caramel
  • Nougat

Nutty 

  • Almond
  • Peanut butter
  • Cashew

Fruity

  • Citrus 
  • Berries 
  • Apple 

Medium roast body (the texture and weight of a coffee on your palate) can range from tea-like to straight-up creamy. Acidity can range from delicate to complex, juicy to syrupy. This wide range depends on the source coffee and is what makes this coffee interesting and exciting. The best medium roasts are about the perfect balance of acid and body. 

How Much Caffeine Is In Medium Roast Coffee?

The myth: because medium roast coffee beans are roasted less, they retain more caffeine.

The truth: caffeine difference between roasts is insignificant. 

Caffeine content has a lot more to do with how you brew your coffee. More beans = more caffeine. Espresso style coffee uses more beans and contains much more caffeine per ounce, but you drink less of it. If you’re looking to boost caffeine content, try adding a shot of espresso to your coffee, or brewing it using more coffee beans. 

If you’ve been trying to make your coffee stronger and are not happy with the results, see our blog posts about coffee being too sour or too bitter

Do I Brew Medium Roast Coffee Differently?

Not too much, not too little… you have to brew it just right. 

Kidding! You can brew it just like the other roasts as it is pretty straightforward and versatile. Our medium roast really shines when brewed using pour over or Chemex. 

As with any coffee you’re trying to coax into deliciousness, pay attention to the basics:

  • Grind size: ensure you select the right grind size for the brew method you’ll be using
  • Water temperature: medium roast can be successfully brewed at a variety of temperatures 
  • Contact time: the length of time you brew the beans affects the coffee extraction and changes the flavor. A pot of coffee can take 6 minutes to brew, while an espresso takes about 25 seconds. 
  • Freshness: as coffee ages, it oxidizes. Flavors alter considerably after the first few weeks. Use the freshest coffee possible in order to get the best flavor. (Hint: our coffee is always fresh!) 

See our coffee brewing guide for more info on how to perfect your recipe. 

Does Medium Roast Coffee Have Less Acid?

Medium roast coffees are about average when it comes to acid, but it really depends on the origin of the coffee. They are lower in perceived acid than light roast coffees, meaning they don’t taste as sour/acidic. 

The wide range of acidic characteristics in medium roast make it a fun coffee to return to. 

If you’re looking for low acid coffee, we offer a naturally low acid dark roast

Cold brew coffee tends to be lower in acid because it bypasses the chemical reaction that releases acid from the beans. Cold brewing is also a great brew option for a medium roast coffee drinker seeking less acid. 

What Pairs Best With Medium Roasts?

Medium roasts bring craveable comfort to breakfast and afternoon snacks. It balances out heavy flavors and adds depth to lighter fare. You can count on caramelly sweetness, balanced body and rounded acidity

Try pairing medium roast with these foods: 

Sweet

  • Morning glory muffins 
  • Almond croissant
  • Oatmeal with fresh fruit 
  • Old-fashioned donuts 

Savory 

  • Quiche
  • Cold lunch sandwiches
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Bacon and eggs 

You also can never go wrong with a splash of cream or steamed milk! 

Hot vs Iced: What’s Better For Medium Roasts?

Medium roast is totally versatile, delicious and eager to show its characteristics in just about any brew method. 

As a cold coffee, medium roast makes a balanced and sweet cold brew. It can also be brewed (hot) double strength and poured over ice to retain balanced acidity and fruity notes. 

Brewed hot, we believe our medium roast is most delicious brewed as a pour over, chemex or even espresso style. 

Medium vs. Light Roast

Medium roast is roasted longer, with a darker bean color and no oil on the surface. You’ll still find fruit notes, with a little bit of nuttiness and essence of baking spices. Expect a more balanced, rounded flavor and more body in the cup. Medium roast is extremely versatile to brew but lacks the dynamic flavors of a medium roast. 

Our medium roast is a blend of coffees from Brazil, Ethiopia and Colombia. Try it here

Medium vs. Dark Roast

Dark roast is roasted longer, with a much darker bean color and an oily surface. Flavors tend toward chocolate, caramel, maple and nuts. Dark roast is fantastic brewed espresso-style, in a french press, or regular coffee maker. It delivers a smooth acidity and bold flavor.

Sound like your cup of joe? Try our dark roast here. 

The Best Place To Buy Magical Medium Roast Coffee

We happen to think we have some of the best medium roast coffee beans around.

Our medium roast is a 100% Arabica selection of coffees from Ethiopia and Brazil that we are excited about. We roast carefully to reveal notes of hazelnut, brown sugar and red fruit.

👉 Try our medium roast today!

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