Ultimate Guide to Medium Roast Coffee

You just ordered a couple pounds of green coffee beans. You've scoured the internet, researching how to roast coffee beans at home. You know how to do it. But you don't know what you want. A light roast? A dark roast? A medium roast?

Enter this coffee guide series! We're here to give you all the details on each roast type so you can decide which to try.

Last month, we dished on all the details on dark roasts. Now, we're taking a deep dive into medium roast coffee. Are you ready?

Roasted coffee beans

What Is Medium Roast Coffee?

Roasting is one of the most important parts of making good coffee. The roasting process, the roasting machine you use, the length of roasting, can all change the coffee beans' taste.

A good rule of thumb to remember is the darker you roast, the more you roast out of the bean. This means the lighter flavors, the caffeine, the acidity are all lessened in a darker roast.

Medium roast coffee is known for its medium acidity, balanced body, and well-rounded flavors. It’s the perfect gateway coffee for new coffee drinkers. The lower acidity appeals to a lot of people, and the flavor is a great balance between light and dark roasts.

Experienced coffee drinkers describe a good medium roast as sweet with hints of oat, brown sugar, and caramel; nutty with notes of almonds, peanut butter, and cashews; and fruity with tones of citrus, berries, and apple. Once brewed, the coffee has a tea like mouthfeel with delicate acidity. It’s the best of both worlds, grabbing characteristics of both light and dark roasts.

If you’re wondering what coffee beans work best with a medium roast, you should try South American coffee beans and Central American coffee beans. These countries’ natural flavors work really well with the lightness and depth of a medium roast.

Levels of coffee roasting
Light, Medium, and Dark Roast

So, what makes a medium roast different from a light or dark roast?

To make light roast coffee, you roast the beans until the first crack. The beans will be lighter in color and retain many of the floral and fruity notes specific to their growing region. But more on that another time.

In contrast, medium roasts stay in the roaster until the second crack. The beans are a medium brown with some oil on the surface of the bean.

Medium roast coffee is the perfect balance between light roast and dark roast in flavor. It takes on some of the darker, richer notes, dampening some of the brighter, floral flavors. But you can still taste echoes of the beans' growing region.

At the end of the spectrum is dark roast coffee, also called a French roast. Roasted to the end of the second crack, most of the light, origin-based flavors give way to a bold, smoky flavor. Dark roasts are most often used for espresso beans.

Does Medium Roast Coffee Have Less Acidity?

A coffee’s acidity depends on the origin, the roast type, and the brewing method. While the acidity level does differ some between roast types, it’s not a significant amount. Medium roasts tend to have an average acidity—less than light roast but more than dark roast.

If you’re really avoiding acidity, try a cold brew. This brewing method makes a low acidic cup of coffee that draws out some of the best flavors in a medium roast.

Pour over

Best Brewing Method for Medium Roasts

Medium roasted coffee beans work well with many different brewing methods. As a sidenote, make sure your grind size is right for the brewing method you've chosen. The wrong grind size makes a big difference in the quality of your coffee.

If you’re craving some hot coffee, try your medium roast as a pour over or espresso style. We love the Bodum Pour Over and the Moka pot for these two brewing methods.

If cold coffee is calling to you, try a cold brew. Cold brew takes full advantage of the natural acidity, fruity notes, and rich undertones of a medium roast.


Whether you’re new to coffee or new to home roasting, medium roast coffee is a great place to start. With flavors that please both connoisseurs and new coffee drinkers, you’ll be sure to enjoy your cup of coffee to its fullest.