Here’s the Truth About Roast Shades

By DeathWishCoffee — / Coffee Talk

What's the Difference Between Roast Shades?

There’s always going to be that one know-it-all that has a knack for throwing shade all over your java parade. Whether it be the barista at the corner café, the person sitting next to you on the subway, silently judging your Venti soy latte or your close bud who happens to be a coffee connoisseur, it’s time to level up on your own coffee game.

Do you prefer a dark roast? Light roast? Medium roast? Do you even know what that means to the flavor of your cup? Let’s get you up to date.

The degree to which coffee beans are roasted is one of the most important factors in determining the taste of the coffee in your cup. The coffee roasting process transforms raw beans into the aromatic, flavorful beans we know as coffee. Ultimately, we end up with a few common roast shades.

A white hand holding a white mug of dark coffee on a black table.

Here are a few ways to differentiate roast shades:

Light Roast

  • Light brown in color, with a light body
  • No oil on the bean surface
  • Toasted grain taste and pronounced acidity
  • Light roasts retain most of the caffeine from the bean 

Common Light Roast Names: Light City, Half City, Cinnamon Roast, and New England Roast

Medium Roast

  • Medium brown in color with more body than light roasts
  • No oil on the bean surface
  • More balanced flavor, aroma, and acidity
  • Caffeine is somewhat decreased but more than in darker roasts

Common Medium Roast Names: Regular Roast, American Roast, City Roast, Breakfast Roast

A bag of Death Wish Coffee Medium Roast Coffee on a black background.

Medium-Dark Roast

  • Richer, darker color with a heavy body compared to light and medium roasts
  • Some oil beginning to develop on the surface of the beans

Common Medium-Dark Roast Names: Full-City Roast, After Dinner Roast, and Vienna Roast

Dark Roast

  • Dark brown in color, similar to chocolate, sometimes almost black
  • Has a sheen of oil on the bean surface, typically showing in the cup after the coffee is brewed
  • Generally, dark roasts have a bitter and smoky or even burnt taste
  • Best roast to use for espresso
  • The amount of caffeine is significantly decreased

Common Dark Roast Names: French Roast, Italian Roast, Espresso Roast, Continental Roast, New Orleans Roast, and Spanish Roast.

A bag of Death Wish Coffee OG Dark Roast on a black background.


At Death Wish Coffee, we got our claim to fame with our OG Dark Roast Coffee. By using the strongest combination of beans and the perfect roasting process, we created "The World's Strongest Coffee," despite being a dark roast.

Valhalla Java is a medium-dark three roast blend, originating in the volcanic soils of Indonesia and nutrient-rich soils of Central and South America.

Fresh off the roaster, we've created our first-ever World's Strongest Medium Roast. A shade or two lighter than our original blend, our Medium Roast contains our cult-classic level of caffeine—making it perfect to add variety to your daily coffee routine, without sacrificing strength 

No matter where life takes you, we want to help you rise to any occasion (or party). If you make a coffee purchase between September 29 and October 28, 2021, you will be entered in our FREE COFFEE FOR LIFE Sweepstakes (more purchases = more chances to win)! ‘Til Death Do Us Part—we're marrying you and vowing to fuel you for life. Find out more on how to enter here.

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