Best Light Roast Coffee Bean Reviews and Buying Guide
If you’re a real coffee fiend, roasting your own beans takes things to the next level.
We’re going to walk you through some light roast coffee bean reviews today so you can cut through the hundreds of different options and laser in on one of these 5 awesome roasts.
Before that, a quick overview of coffee roasting…
I. Best Light Roast Coffee Bean On The Market
Cafe Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Gourmet Coffee - Light Roast
Subtle Earth’s organic Arabica is a rich light roast with undertones of chocolate. Enjoy a taste sensation while doing your bit for the environment. Grown at high altitude in Central America, this non-GMO coffee is perfect in a drip machine, French press or espresso machine. Get your day started with a bang!
Fair Trade Whole Bean Organic Coffee, Light-Medium Roast
Stepping up to a light-medium roast, Wild Coffee serve up a fantastic organic Arabica. This single origin coffee hails from the Peruvian mountains. Grown with no chemicals or insecticide, this Fair Trade organic has a nutty edge with amedium body. Check some out in your cold brew coffee maker today!
Real Good Coffee Co Light Roast
For a smooth and chocolaty light roast from an industry heavyweight, check out this Real Good Coffee Co Arabica from Latin American beans. If you’re looking for a subtle breakfast coffee to kickstart your day, grab yourself one of these cost-effective 2-pound bags. You won’t be disappointed!
Tiny Footprint Organic Light Roast
Tiny Footprint are heavily involved in environmental projects while producing first-rate organic coffee. This wonderful light roast gives you a sweet and mild coffee without too much acidity. Tailor-made for cold brewing, this Arabica from the Andes of Ecuador delivers in fine style.
Organic White Knight Light Roast
If you’ve been hunting for a light roast with a bold body and all the right organic certification, White Knight rides in to the rescue. This inexpensive 2-pound package is suitable for use in all coffee makers and responds especially well brewed cold. Check out some White Knight today!
Read More: Best Espresso Coffee Beans
II. Getting Started With Coffee Roasting: An Overview
Obviously, you can head to your local coffee chain any time and experience roast coffee but why not roasting your own?
Whether you want to invest in some high-tech gear, pop a pan on the stove or use a popcorn popper, roasting is an intriguing creative art.
There are many variables with the roasting process:
- Roasting methods
- Environmental factors
- Type of coffee bean
For this reason, we’ll give you a brief overview rather than step-by-step instructions.
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1. Choose Your Coffee Roaster
There are several methods at your disposal if you want to roast your own coffee beans.
- Use The Oven or a Stovetop Popcorn Popper: Simply layer some beans on a baking tray and roast them for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven. For larger batches, use a popcorn popper. This approach also allows you more flexibility over the temperature
- Use Domestic Roasting Equipment: For maximum control over the roasting process, buy a dedicated roaster. For consistency and an even color without the same risk of scorching, this is the most effective way to roast coffee beans
2. Select Your Coffee Beans
The beans are obviously central and choosing them is to a large extent a matter of personal taste. If you’re stuck for ideas with light roast beans, check out our reviews for some inspiration.
If you are intending to roast your own, opt for beans that will show a marked difference in taste. Learning a little about various harvesting techniques will serve you well. Shoot for beans produced in different countries.
Once you have your green coffee ready to roast, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the stages of coffee roasting.
3. Stages of Coffee Roasting
It could be argued that there are up to 10 distinct stages during the roasting process.
We’ll break them down into the 4 principal stages for the sake of simplicity:
- Color Change
- First Crack
- Second Crack
The coffee beans start off green and remain that for the first few minutes of roasting.
The first change of color you’ll notice will be a shift to a peanut hue. The beans become golden.
Steam starts to rise from the beans at this point as the water inside them begins to slowly evaporate.
Roasting proper sets in with the first crack at 205°C.
The beans contain plenty of sugar. This starts to caramelize. As this happens, you’ll hear a distinctive cracking sound. The fragrant aroma of baking will fill the air.
The surface of the beans becomes dried and wrinkled.
At this point, the roasting can be completed with the result being a light roast.
You can decide at the first crack whether or not you’ll continue roasting. If so, further heat will draw the oils to the surface of the beans.
The coffee beans expand as the color darkens.
Stopping before the second crack is a wise move.
A second crack occurs at 225°C.
More body has the chance to develop once you are in this heady territory. Flavor is coaxed out and the origin becomes more apparent.
Roasting through the second crack causes carbon dioxide and water vapor to be created. This leads to the surface of the beans becoming slightly pitted.
4. Finishing Touches
Once you achieve the color and roast you’re looking for, it’s time to decant the beans into a metal sieve or colander.
Coffee beans will hold some heat inside and continue cooking even away from the heat source. This is similar to the latent heat remaining in eggs when they’re done. For this reason, it’s best to pull your beans from the heat just before you consider them ready.
5. Storing Your Roast Coffee
If you want to keep your coffee beans perfectly fresh, there’s no substitute for an airtight container.
Don’t rush into sealing it away, though…
Venting roasted coffee allows the carbon dioxide to escape so leave your beans overnight before popping them inside the container.
Stored properly and away from any direct sunlight, your coffee beans will be good for 6 weeks or so.
Green, unroasted beans have a shelf life of perhaps 6 months.
Now you have you know how to get started roasting coffee beans, it’s time for a quick preview of the 5 best light roast coffee beans you can lay your hands on…
III. How Many Types of Coffee Bean Roasting Are There?
When it comes to the taste of the coffee in your cup, the degree to which the beans are roasted is one of the key factors.
The most common way to describe the roast levels of coffee is by the color of the beans. This ranges from light through to dark or extra dark. The beans darken as they absorb heat during the roasting process.
Here are the most popular roast levels:
1. Light Roast
2. Medium Roast
3. Medium-Dark Roast
4. Dark Roast
5. Double Dark Roast
Note: Names of coffee roasts are not completely standardized so you might get some variation.
Light roasts are pale brown with no oil on the surface and a very light body.
These roasts are pretty acidic with a grainy taste.
With light roasts, you’ll be better able to detect the origin of the bean.
Be aware that not all coffee responds well to light roasting. Some will develop an unwelcome taste. Light roasting can leave a coffee feeling slightly unbalanced. The ratio of fruitiness, acidity and body can be out of whack. This is why it’s extremely important to focus on beans that won’t end up with an extreme coffee out of balance.
When they’re heating up, light roast beans have a temperature of 180°C - 205°C. When the mercury hits 205°C, you get the first crack. This is when the beans pop and grow. Generally, light roast coffee does not go beyond this point.
A fuller bodied bean with a darker flavor, medium roast has no oil on the surface of the beans either.
Medium-roast is something of a win-win…
The coffee has begun to caramelize but has not yet started to burn. There is no grainy taste like with light roasts.
There is much more of a balance between the flavor, aroma and level of acidity. You also get a greater range of possible flavors from citrus and berry through to a fruity or acidic taint.
Hitting internal temperatures of 205 °C to 220 °C, this takes you to the second crack.
These richer, darker roasts are where you start to see some oil on the surface.
Medium-dark roast coffee has a much fuller body and the individual flavors become quite distinct with a definite spiciness.
The beans are roasted up to somewhere near the middle of the second crack at around 225°C.
Dark brown in color to the point of being almost black, these beans are covered with a patina of oil. This is visible in your cup when the coffee is brewed.
A bitter and smoky coffee, the origin flavors are far less noticeable than the flavors apparent during the roasting process.
Dark roast takes the internal temperature of the beans to a staggering 240°C. After 250°C, it’s a point of diminishing returns where the taste thins out with an unpleasant helping of charcoal entering the mix.
For a bold and rich flavor, dark roasting is best left for the highly skilled as it can result in a charred and burnt travesty if it’s not done right.
Double Dark Roast
Just at the point where the oils coming from the coffee beans burst into flames, it’s possible for a coffee roasting maestro to step in and produce a double dark roast.
This roast has an incredibly full body and it’s infused with smoke. This is not a coffee for the lighthearted!
IV. Benefits of Organic Coffee
With coffee weighing in as the second most popular drink in the world after water, it’s becoming increasingly important that this product is organic and Fair Trade.
Since organic coffee is usually far more expensive, why should you bother buying it?
There are 3 main reasons why organic coffee makes sense:
1. Environmental Benefits
2. Health Benefits
3. Helping the Farmers
One of the worst problems for the environment with regular coffee is the way it encourages deforestation.
Not only does organic coffee sidestep the need for cutting down trees, it helps to conserve wildlife and vegetation. It also plays a role in stopping diseases and the constant erosion of soil.
The huge array of chemicals used on farms can be extremely damaging to your health. From insecticides and pesticides through to herbicides and fungicides, studies have shown potential complications to our nervous and reproductive systems from these harmful chemicals. Organic coffee uses none of these. It’s totally natural.
As well as being non-GMO, organic coffee is rich with vitamins and minerals. It’s also packed with antioxidants.
If doing your part for the planet doesn’t motivate you, take a long hard think about the health benefits and you might just start buying organic!
Helping the Farmers
Fair Trade coffee lets you buy your bumper package of beans safe in the knowledge that the local farmers will be paid a reasonable rate for their efforts.
Many companies selling organic coffee also launch projects in the plantation areas to further help locals.
So choosing organic coffee is the best thing you can do for your health while also contributing to this green industry.
V. Which Has More Caffeine, Light Roast or Dark Roast Coffee?
If you don’t know anything about roasting coffee, you might immediately assume that dark roast coffee is more caffeinated. The reverse holds true.
Caffeine levels in coffee actually decrease as the roast becomes darker.
If you’re looking for maximum caffeine, any of these light roast coffees to follow make a smart starting point…
VI. Best Light Roast Coffee Reviews
So now you have a good idea about the basics of coffee roasting, which blend should you choose?
We’ll walk you through a quick summary of 5 of the best light roast coffee reviews to save you from being paralyzed by choice…
1) Cafe Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Gourmet Coffee - Light Roast
First up in our light roast coffee reviews is this superb organic blend from Subtle Earth.
Organic coffee doesn’t get much purer than this. Grown at high altitude in the Marcala region of Honduras, no chemicals or insecticides are used.
You get a surprisingly deep flavor with this light roast thanks to the conditions in which it’s grown. There’s a richness and a hint of chocolate to tantalize your taste buds.
Low in acidity and with a delicate, velvety body, Subtle Earth produce coffee at its best.
For a wonderful pure Arabica with full organic certification from CCOF, this non-GMO gourmet coffee is just too good to miss!
2) Fair Trade Whole Bean Organic Coffee, Light-Medium Roast
Fair Trade products ensure that farmers get sensible prices for their crops and this Wild Coffee light-medium roast is also organic certified so you can enjoy your morning boost with a clear conscience.
This single origin coffee from Peru is grown between 4000 – 6000 feet with volcanic loam soil. There are few insects at this elevation meaning there’s no call for chemicals.
This medium-bodied coffee is deliciously smooth with a dominant nutty taste.
Wild Coffee works particularly well with the cold brew method. If you like iced coffee done the right way, get a cold brew maker and try some Wild Peru.
The pure Arabica is roasted Stateside so the beans stay fresh and you get the finest coffee without spending a fortune in Starbucks.
3) Real Good Coffee Co Light Roast
Seattle is synonymous with top-notch coffee. The Real Good Coffee Co produce coffee from Central and South American beans that consistently wins out in blind taste tests over chain store coffee.
If you can’t do without your morning coffee, why not try a dedicated breakfast blend?
This light roast is versatile enough for all coffee makers from a drip machine through a pour-over.
The smooth flavor is unmistakably citrusy with an enticing combination of chocolate and cream alongside. The Arabica beans are freshly roasted on home turf in Seattle.
For an affordable alternative to Costa, invest in a 2-pound bag of this Real Good Coffee Co light roast today!
4) Tiny Footprint Organic Light Roast
As we near the end of our light roast coffee bean reviews, another organic delicacy from Tiny Footprint.
Over the past decade, Tiny Footprint became the world’s first carbon negative company. They are making great strides reforestation in the Ecuadorean Andes.
As well as impeccable environmental credentials, Tiny Footprint also produce damn good coffee.
This light roast Arabica is mild to the point of weakness so steer clear if you’re looking for something less subtle. It’s sweet and only mildly acidic. If you like a good hit of caffeine, it won’t let you down.
Get yourself 3 pounds of this organic light roast and your local coffee shop might start to miss your presence!
5) Organic White Knight Light Roast
Last up in our light roast coffee bean reviews is another organic blend with all the standard certification.
The added bonus with White Knight is it comes in at an extremely cost-effective price without stinting on quality.
The Fair Trade Arabica beans are robust with more body than you’ll find in most light roasts. You’ll enjoy a very clean taste to your coffee with a hint of cherry and cocoa.
With no nasty additives, preservatives or chemicals, you can suck down your favorite coffee without damaging your health.
White Knight proves with this light roast that you can treat yourself to some organic coffee without spending a fortune.
We trust you’ve found these light roast coffee bean reviews useful.
Hopefully, you’ll now have a clear idea of how to roast your own beans and enjoy the freshest coffee possible exactly to your liking.
Feel free to drop us a line if you’ve got any questions or feedback at all. We’re always delighted to hear from you coffee lovers and we’ll help in any way we can.