10 Best Medium Roast Coffees for Specialty Coffee Lovers
We’ve put together a list of the best Medium roast coffees on the market. If you are a specialty coffee lover like us, these are the coffees for you!
Like all specialty coffee lovers, you have many options from roast type (light, medium, dark), processing method like natural or washed, and origin. We wanted to shed some light on our favorite medium-roasted coffees we drink daily.
Medium roast coffees are our personal favorite, and we tend to roast most of our coffees in the range of light to medium. We find that medium-roasted coffees are incredibly versatile and lend themselves well across brewing methods like pour-over and espresso.
Before we dive deep into our favorite medium-roasted coffees, we would love to introduce to you who we are. We are Coffee Bros., a specialty coffee roastery out of NYC founded in 2019. We pride ourselves on roasting some of the best coffees on the market and anchor our mission on what we call the four pillars of coffee: sustainability, quality, consistency, and freshness. You can read more about our company and mission here.
There are many other lists on the internet about who has the best coffee, so why listen to us? As coffee roasters, we are constantly sampling coffees for our business and trying everything on the market. We sample and cup thousands of coffees a year from our partners, and continuously do quality control of our own coffee. We also love to see what else is on the market and explore what amazing things other coffee companies are up to.
The list below showcases some of our personal favorites and what we consider the best medium-roasted coffee on the market.
Medium Roast Coffee
All coffee is based on a preference from your personal taste down to what color you deem as light, medium, or dark roasted coffee. We define medium-roasted coffee not only by the color but how far along in the roasting development process we take a coffee. We also "cup" or sample our coffees to ensure they hit on certain flavor profiles to hit on that "medium roast" flavor. Our medium-roasted coffees are taken slightly beyond first crack (usually where light-roasted coffees end) and developed to bring out more of the coffee’s sugar/caramelization.
All-in-all, color is a great initial determining factor for what is considered medium, but the ultimate test comes down to development time and taste.
Want to learn more about light-roasted coffee? Head to our blog about our favorite light-roasted coffees.
Here are the best Medium Roast Coffees
Coffee Bros.: Medium Roast Coffee
Our most versatile coffee, our Medium Roast, is perfect for many brewing methods, from pour-over to espresso.
We wanted to create a Medium Roast that blended the classic taste notes, like nutty and rich, with a sprinkling of unanticipated flavors, like red fruit and a slight winey acidity.
To do this, we combined a classic Brazilian coffee with notes of brown sugar and chocolate, with low acidity and heavy body, with a fruit-forward Ethiopian coffee. What we are left with is a coffee that starts off as your classic Medium Roast but finishes off smooth and sweet with notes of red fruit like strawberry.
Our Medium Roast is everything we were looking for that we didn’t find much of in the market. It was a coffee that was classic but fun and adventurous that could carry across any brewing method. We love this coffee as much as a pour-over as we do as an Espresso Roast, and many of our customers feel the same!
Don’t just take our word for it; read the countless reviews of customers who love brewing with this coffee!
“I don’t know how these guys do it. I order a bag of the Medium Roast almost every week and consistently good and consistently fresh. I like it more than the stuff my local coffee shops are pumping out. Thanks, Coffee Bros.!”– Austin (Customer)
Coffee Bros.: Medium Roast Details
PT's Coffee: John Brown
Named Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine in 2009 and among the leading roasters reviewed by Coffee Review, PT’s Coffee commitment to delivering an excellent cup of coffee to all coffee lovers stems from their love and commitment to sourcing, roasting, and drinking the best coffees in the world. For almost 30 years, PT’s Coffee has been roasting dozens of unique single-origin specialty coffees and signature blends out of Topeka, Kansas and their coffees can be found nationwide.
One of their signature blends consisting of a medium and dark roast combination, John Brown brings a delightful profile of Baker's chocolate, black cherry, and sweet pipe tobacco. Featuring a deep chocolate aroma with a velvety body complemented by juicy acidity and syrupy black sweetness.
The signature story behind the blend is that the famed abolitionist John Brown who took direct action to free enslaved people in the States was arrested for treason and sentenced to death. Ralph Waldo Emerson said Brown's death would "make the gallows as glorious as the cross." Today he is depicted in a massive mural in Topeka's State Capitol
PT's Coffee: Medium Roast Details
Intelligentsia: Frequency Blend
Offering coffee bars, training labs, and Roasting Works in hometown of Chicago and Los Angles, Intelligentsia’s widening footprint now includes locations in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. Their rotating selection of single-origins and blends can be found in restaurants, hotels, and cafés.
This balanced honey-processed coffee, harvested in July 2021, hails from Carmo de Minas in Brazil from producer Luiz Paulo Dias Pereira Filho. It is an easy-to-enjoy smooth coffee with a flavor profile of golden raisin, raw sugar, and molasses. The recommended brew method for this medium blend roast is either a pour-over or an automatic dripper accompanied by a grind size 5 or 6. If you are grinding at home, mimic the size of Morton Coarse Kosher Salt.
“Flavor, I've tried single origin, blends, and multiple variants of the world-class Black Cat espresso. BTW I always get the whole bean. I have no reservations saying each was excellent. While certain single origins, a tart Ethiopian for example, weren't my personal preference. Each bag has had layers of flavor… Bottoms up!”– J. Owen (Customer)
Intelligentsia: Medium Roast Details
Roast Type: Medium
Origin: Brazil, El Salvador
Taste Notes: Golden Raisin, Raw Sugar, Molasses
Bean Type: Whole Bean or Ground
Greater Goods: Pick-Me-Up
2021 Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine and named Best Coffee in Texas in 2019 by Food & Wine Magazine, Greater Goods offers a selection of specialty coffees from Colombia to Kenya that are thoughtfully sourced concerning social and environmental responsibility. They partner with producers that provide fair wages and utilize sustainable practices to protect the environment and make it a point to give back to their community through supporting one of four local Texas nonprofits.
Make this your morning go-to-Pick-Me-Up! This medium-roast coffee is a house blend of natural and washed beans sustainably sourced from Ethiopia and Colombia (fairtrade organic). Highlighting a pleasant taste profile of chocolate-covered-berries, and honey, with a velvety body.
The purchase of this coffee supports the Central Texas Food Bank.
Greater Goods: Medium Roast Details
Blue Bottle: Beta Blend
Since the early 2000s, Blue Bottle prides itself on its specialty-grade coffee standards—only purchasing coffees that register 84 or above on a 100-point scale. With the majority of their beans traceable and certified organic, they also often source from producers that they’ve had a working relationship for an average of five years or more. With every team member on their sourcing team a certified Q grader, quality and freshness are standard.
This delicate counterpoint to Blue Bottle’s heftier blends is glassy and floral touting an impressive profile of candied orange, milk chocolate, and white peach. Beta Blend was originally intended to only be sold in the Bay Area, roasted, tasted, and tweaked in their Oakland roastery. Quickly becoming a fan favorite, this bright blend can now be experienced across state borders and beyond.
“Tasty coffee. Very well balanced with some richness but also nice brightness.”– R. Holsey (Customer)
Blue Bottle: Medium Roast Details
Atomic Coffee: Space Cadet
Roasted and packed in Salem, Massachusetts, Atomic Coffee is a family-owned business that produces specialty-grade and ethically sourced coffees. With a wide range of offerings including blends and single origins, Atomic Coffee is a customer favorite due to its consistent and expertly roasted delicious coffees that rotate seasonally.
Brewed in 300-gallon batches for their original and nitro cans, the Space Cadet is a customer favorite as an outstanding cold brew. This blend of fully washed Ethiopian, Honduran, and Nicaraguan coffee has a dynamic taste profile highlighting clementine, nougat, and burnt sugar.
Atomic Coffee: Medium Roast Details
Drink Coffee Do Stuff: Party Wave
Leading with the mantra and belief that extraordinary coffee leads to an extraordinary life, Drink Coffee Do Stuff sources their beans from mountainous terrain and are roasts in the mountains at their Lake Tahoe headquarters. With their third brick-and-mortar shop in South Lake Tahoe, their signature coffee roasting style continues to be a success by ensuring sweetness, and less bitterness, while also exposing the bean’s original characteristic.
This medium roast coffee is made up of 100% Ethiopian Sidama Oromia with exotic, exciting flavor notes of ripe raspberries and a chocolate syrupy finish. Party Wave is an exciting and delicious experiment blend—from sourcing, roasting, and brewing excellence.
“This is the smoothest coffee I have ever drank. The flavor really comes out with the press. The price is good also.”– N. Crownover (Customer)
Drink Coffee Do Stuff: Medium Roast Details
Joe Coffee: The Daily
Seeded in Greenwich Village, New York City in 2003, Joe Coffee has expanded across the state of New York with 21 cafes and counting. Their main goal is to deliver high-quality brewing to all their coffees, a unique selection, and create a welcoming space within local communities for all coffee lovers.
This natural and washed blend of seasonally fresh beans from Brazil and Columbia brings brightness and sweetness to every cup. Hailing from Cerrado, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and Guadalupe and Tarqui, Huila, Colombia, the varieties include Caturra, Colombia, Catuaí, Red Catuaí from two well-known producers in the regions, Veloso Coffee and El Paraiso and Villa Esperanza. With this unique blend, Joe Coffee created a coffee that is balanced and approachable with a taste profile of chocolate, caramel, and molasses.
“One of the best affordable coffees available. Joe's should be taking over the country, rather than a certain other chain whose coffee is burnt bitterness for the truly uninitiated.”– I. Piestrzynska (Customer)
Joe Coffee: Medium Roast Details
Irving Farm: 71 House
Maintaining long-term, sustainable relationships with small producers has allowed Irving Farm to bring the best of freshly harvested coffee that is hand selected. With over 20 years of roasting experience, Irving Farm has become a favorite coffee stop in New York City and was awarded “Best Coffee” by New York Magazine in 2002. With seasonal batches freshly roasted to order, Irving Farm continues to maintain the highest quality and flavor while also fine-tuning roast profiles.
This medium roast coffee was named after Irving Farm’s flagship café at 71 Irving Place, located in Gramercy Park. Roasted to be perfectly sweet and smooth, you can expect a flavor profile of milk chocolate, caramel, and clementine.
Irving Farm: Medium Roast Details
Airship Coffee: Buffalo Blend
Airship Coffee is committed to sourcing thoughtful and quality beans from countries like Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Burundi, and Ethiopia as well as a strong commitment to coffee producing education. They focus on supporting growers to produce better coffee and develop long-lasting friendships that are still present, more than ten years later. With coffee education in mind under the leadership of Mark Bray, Airship highlights that its loyal customer base of coffee drinkers understand and appreciate the whole coffee process.
A blend comprised of a washed coffee from Guatemala and a sun-dried natural from El Salvador highlights a complex profile of vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel that is sweet and mild. Named after one of Airship Coffee’s favorite locations, the first designated “National River” in the National Park System, the Buffalo National River. The river flows freely for 153 miles through the Ozark Mountains to the White River thanks to Dr. Neil Compton’s advocacy work.
“This is the best coffee you can buy at Walmart. Don't listen to other reviews saying it's bad because they are, frankly, senile and don't know how to brew coffee. For this coffee you'll need a grinder since it's the whole bean. I use a scale to measure out 10g of coffee per 6fl oz of water. You can make 3 cups with 40 grams. Don't sleep on using a scale, they're cheap and worth using to make fantastic cups of coffee. This coffee is rich and chocolatey. The perfect everyday brew.”– Logan (Customer)
Airship Coffee: Medium Roast Details
What to look for when searching for a high-quality, Medium Roast Coffee:
When looking for a high-quality Medium Roast Coffee, search for coffee roasters who label their coffee as a medium roast. While this seems an obvious suggestion, not every roaster lists the range of roast colors on their coffee bags or product detail page. While we understand why roasters may do this (another conversation not suited for this article), we think listing the roast color is helpful for the consumer. For example, knowing that coffee is a light or medium roast, consumers would better understand roast development and its impact on the coffee’s body and flavor profile.
Let’s take the above example one step further. If a roaster does not list roast color on their coffee bag or detail page but lists a taste note of strawberry, how would you expect the difference between light and darker roasted coffees to be? For one, a light roast coffee would signal that the notes of strawberry will be sweet, bright, and more acidic than its darker roasted counterpart. If the same coffee were roasted medium, we expect a heavier body with a more cooked berry flavor than bright and acidic strawberry. Further, light or medium-roasted coffees perform better with specific brewing methods. While you can easily understand the depth of roast of the coffee you purchased when it arrives, it is often helpful to know before you buy in case you prefer one specific brew method over another.
What are some tips or tricks for brewing the perfect Medium Roasted Coffee:
Brewing the perfect medium roast coffee takes time when trying to home on time, temperature, and brew ratio.
Here are some general guidelines for brewing a solid cup of coffee.
The three most important factors across any brewing method are time, temperature, and ratio (coffee to water). Without understanding each one of these pieces, you will be playing a guessing game on why your medium roast coffee is not coming out the way you want it to.
The time corresponds to the time it takes to reach your recipe’s end weight. For example, if you are brewing a 12oz (340g) pour-over, your goal should be to finish brewing in or around 3 minutes. Please note that 3 minutes is average, but it does not mean you should be shooting for 3 minutes on every brew. Testing anywhere between 2:30 – 4:00 minutes will give you vastly different results. We often brew two coffees at the extremes and then adjust to our preference.
There are a few parts of brewing a pour-over that impact your total time.
- Grind Size: The grind size matters across all methods and will impact your coffee’s total brewing time. Finer ground coffee will brew much slower (and may choke your brewer) than one that is ground coarser. We often shoot for a medium coarse ground coffee when brewing for pour-over, but slight adjustments may be needed.
- Pouring frequency and method: The way you pour your water into the brewing vessel makes a big difference. Stick to a planned frequency (pouring “x” grams every 15 – 30 seconds) and then your grind size if your brew comes out too slow or fast.
We often suggest pouring water into your brewer once the water is roughly 1cm above the coffee grounds. Doing this will keep an even and consistent flow, and you repeat this process until you reach your final brewing weight.
Temperature: Temperature refers to the temperature of the water leaving your kettle and into your brewing device, such as a Fellow Stagg [XF] brewer.
We suggest starting at 208 – 212F (right off boil) and then letting the water sit for about 30 seconds before you start your first pour.
Just like any brewing method, the temperature you brew your coffee can have a big impact on how the coffee tastes in the cup. If brewing a darker espresso, consider lowering the temperature below 200 - 205 to offset any bitterness. A lighter roast coffee will do well at higher temperatures.
As always, and with the above suggestions for time, make one change at a time, record what works and what doesn’t, and then move on to the next factor.
Brew Ratio or Recipe:
Finally, your brew ratio (coffee grounds to water) is another significant factor to watch out for when making a pour-over.
You will see suggestions ranging from 1:13 up to 1:18. We tend to brew on the lower side at 1:13 – 1:15 (more coffee to water), but we know that is only a preference and not written in stone.
Example of brewing ratios:
- Start with the amount of coffee you want to drink; let’s say a 12oz cup equals 340g of water.
- Next, pick your brew ratio; the lower the ratio, like 1:13 or 1:15, the stronger the cup of coffee will be.
- Finally, divide 340g of water by 15, and you will get the number of grams of coffee to use for a 1:15 brewing ratio, ~23g.
While this is not a full tutorial on how to brew the perfect pour-over, we do think this is a great start!
When it comes to finding the perfect medium roasted coffee, these ten highly skilled roasters are a great place to start!
Finally, we would love to hear from you and some of your favorite medium roast coffee experiences. It doesn’t have to be a coffee you purchased but maybe a cafe where you had an outstanding pour-over or drip coffee. Do you have a favorite medium roast that we don’t have listed here, shoot us an email, and we’ll give it a try and potentially add it to the list!