A Glossary Of Coffee Roasting Terms

Written by: Garrett Oden

A Glossary Of Coffee Roasting Terms

Want to wrap your head around coffee roasting a little more? With this glossary of common roasting terms, you can!

These brief definitions will give you more context and insight into the complex and fascinating world that is coffee roasting.

Whether you’re a curious home roaster or just want a deeper look at the commercial side, my goal is to empower with knowledge - and hopefully help you appreciate your coffee just a little bit more.

Coffee Bean Terms

Green Coffee - The green-colored seed of the coffee cherry that, when roasted, undergoes thousands of chemical changes to become the brown coffee beans we know and love.

Light Roast - The product of roasting coffee to a lighter degree. The beans become a dark tan color and feature bright acids, vibrant aromas, and flavor characteristics of the bean’s origin.

Read: The Difference Between Light, Medium, And Dark Roast Coffee

Medium Roast - The product of roasting coffee to a middle-of-the-road degree. The beans become a light brown color and feature balanced acids, smooth and rich aromas, and gentler flavor characteristics of the bean’s origin mixed with smooth caramel tones.

Dark Roast - The product of roasting coffee to a heavy degree. The beans come a dark brown color and feature mellow acids, rich deep aromas, and flavors on the dark side of the spectrum, like chocolate, nuts, spice, and earth.

French Roast - The product of roasting coffee to a very heavy degree. The beans become a near-black color, feature flavor notes of ash and carbon, and have an unpleasant bitterness.

Quakers - An unripe or underdeveloped coffee bean that’s roasted. Post-roast, the bean is particularly light-colored and has an unpleasant nutty flavor when brewed.

Baked - A bland, dull, and tasteless flavor profile that’s the result of roasting beans either for too long or at too low of a temperature.

Under-Developed - A bean or batch that was roasted too little. Typically can be identified with unpleasant “green” flavors like hay, herbs, and bitter nuts.

Read: How To Taste Coffee Acidity

Scorching - Unusually dark marks on beans that have been hit with extra-high heat or became stuck in one spot and roasted unevenly.

New Crop - Coffee from the most recent harvest season of a producing region.

Past Crop - Coffee from a previous harvest season of a producing region. Typically no longer considered fresh, though high-quality flavors can still be present in the beans.

The Roasting Process

Charge - The process of pre-heating roasting equipment before inserting the green coffee.

Drying Cycle - The first phase of roasting coffee where the temperature of the beans rises to around 210 degrees Fahrenheit. The beans go from green to a light yellow.

First Crack - The second stage of roasting where the temperature of the beans rises to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The beans turn a light brown and make an audible “cracking” noise as the beans fissure and release vapor.

Second Crack - The third stage of roasting where the temperature of the beans rises near 430 degrees Fahrenheit. The beans turn a dark brown as a new wave of chemical reactions take place, producing the ashy bitterness of very dark roasts.

Cooling Stage - The final stage where the beans are dumped into a cooling tray where they are blasted with cool air and spun. The final moments of roasting happen here as the beans go from 400 degrees to room temperature in minutes.

Read: What Does A Coffee Roaster Actually Do?

Roast Profiling - The process of recording temperatures, times, and other variables during roasting to document patterns, tests, and results.

Chaff - Papery flakes of the coffee bean’s silverskin, the innermost skin-like coating of the beans that remains attached after processing.

Degassing - A natural process where freshly roasted beans release carbon dioxide gas rapidly. Most roasters give their fresh coffee up to 24 hours to degas before assessing quality.

Cupping - A tasting exercise that roasters use to determine the quality of the coffee they source, as well as the quality of their roasting techniques.


Infrared Heater - A heat generator that uses infrared waves to heat a drum that roasts coffee, rather than electrical coils or a flame.

Direct Flame Heater - A heat generator that uses gas and a direct flame to heat the drum that the coffee is being roasted in.

Read: Skip The Coffee Aisle, Here's How To Find The World's Best Coffee

Stovetop Roaster - A pot of sorts used for home roasting that is used directly on top of the stove. Typically includes some mechanism to stir the coffee beans as they roast.

Drum Roaster - A roaster that uses a large spinning container to agitate and stir the beans, as well as distribute heat, for an even roast. The standard for commercial roasting.

Fluid Bed Roaster - A roaster that forces hot air through and around the beans to roast them. Typically used for home roasting and small-scale commercial roasting.

Sample Roaster - A small roaster (typically a drum roaster) that mimics a larger commercial roaster. Used to roast sample-size batches to dial in technique and roasting profile before moving to large commercial batches.

Bean Probe - A thermometer probe that’s positioned so that it’s surrounded by beans mid-roast. Used to measure the temperature of the beans, rather than of the air.

Moisture Analyzer - A device that roasters and buyers use to assess the moisture levels of unroasted and roasted beans to ensure that the beans aren’t spoiled or under roasted.


As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into roasting coffee - and this is only the beginning.

If you’re looking into home roasting or pondering a career as a roaster, I hope this has helped.

Roasting coffee can be difficult and frustrating, and it’s important to constantly remind yourself what the goal is by enjoying great coffee roasted by someone else. This other coffee acts as your “control” as you experiment.

Our Coffee Club sends you coffee that’s been sourced from some of the world’s best farms, roasted with precision in San Diego, and shipped to you the same day. It’s a great way to enjoy stellar, fresh beans while you refine your craft and learn to roast like a pro.

Check it out!