Light Roast Coffee Buying Guide (+7 Best Light Roast Coffees Worth Trying)

Written by: Garrett Oden

Light Roast Coffee Buying Guide (+7 Best Light Roast Coffees Worth Trying)

Light roast coffee is having a well-deserved, caffeinated moment in the sun. 

Maybe you’ve looked curiously at bags of coffee beans labeled light roast, but reached habitually for the bag of dark roast because it’s a safe bet. Later, you sipped at your home-brewed coffee wondering if you could have made a better choice.  

So, what’s the deal with light roast coffee? And how do you find the best light roast coffee? 

In this guide, you’ll discover why light roast coffee is quickly becoming a barista favorite, and how to choose the best beans for you. 

We’ll cover…

  • Why light roast coffee is often better than dark roast (uncover dark roast’s bitter secret)
  • The kaleidoscope of wild and exciting flavors you’ll taste in light roast coffee
  • Answers to your burning light roast coffee questions (does it have more caffeine?)
  • 7 of the best light roast coffees worth trying in your next cup 

By the end you’ll be a confident, light roast coffee pro—you’ll know exactly what light roast coffee is and what to look for when you’re buying light roast coffee beans. 

Light Roast Coffee in a Jiffy

Light roast coffees are the (relatively) new kid on the coffee block. They’re quirky and upbeat, and they’re on the rise. 

What you need to know: 

  • Light roast beans are roasted for less time than medium or dark roast beans
  • They taste fruity, bright, and complex
  • Lightly roasting beans preserves the flavors of the bean’s origins 
  • They are fast becoming a favorite of craft roasters, baristas, and coffee lovers

Looking to shake up your coffee routine? Light roast might be for you. 

🏆 Our Top Light Roast: JavaPresse Extra Mile

best light roast coffee beans

Rich with notes of light citrus, rounded out by a dark chocolate smoothness, and a tropical fruit finish, we believe this coffee is a microcosm of light roast coffee’s flavor potential and a perfect well-rounded example of this roast level’s light and nuanced notes.

And it’s a force for good in the world! The farmers behind this single origin bean in Colombia burned their coca fields, exited the drug trade, and started growing coffee instead—this coffee supports their efforts to provide a safer, healthier business for their families.

👉 You can try Extra Mile here.

What Is Light Roast Coffee?

Light roast coffees are light-bodied, often fruity, and complex. The beans are only roasted until they reach a temperature of 350° – 400°F, or until the first ‘crack’. They’re light brown in color and have a non-oily appearance. 

Beans have traditionally been roasted until they are dark and oily, but with modern advancements in coffee science and technology, beans are now being roasted lightly to achieve a completely different, vibrant flavor profile and preserve delicate fruity, floral notes.  

  • Lightly roasted beans are a light brown color and have a matte appearance. They haven’t had the life cooked out of them, so the oils and moisture stay intact, producing a denser bean with no oily surface. If you don’t see oils on the surface of the beans, no worries! That’s by design.
  • Light roast coffee preserves the character of the bean’s origin region. Light roast coffee is all about honoring and exploring the true flavor of the bean and its growing region. It’s at once an art and a science. Craft roasters fine-tune their processes to tease out different tastes and create unique flavor profiles.  
  • The beans are roasted until they reach a temperature of 350° – 400°F. Beans generally pop or ‘crack’ at about 350°F. Light roast beans are generally roasted to the ‘first crack’, but no further. The degree of roasting depends on the roaster’s preference and process.
  • Light roast coffee is fairly new. Previously, roasters only had the knowledge and equipment to roast beans until they were dark. They didn’t have access to the high-quality, single-origin beans we do now, and consumers were used to the smoky flavor of dark roast. 

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

Light roast coffee is full of potential, and craft roasters are quickly jumping on board. This lighter style of roasting has opened avenues to exciting new flavor experiences for coffee enthusiasts.

What Does Light Roast Coffee Taste Like? 

People are often surprised by their first sip of a light roast coffee, it’s a world away from the often one-note flavor of dark roast beans. 

The reduced roasting time means lightly roasted beans are more likely to preserve the unique flavors from their origin region and will taste brighter and fruitier than their darkly roasted counterparts. They have a crisp acidity and a light, mellow body that comes to life when extracted with a little care.  

Lightly roasting coffee beans produces a coffee that is individual, interesting, and complex.

Light roast coffee flavor notes to look out for: 

  • Tropical fruits and stone fruits — peach, nectarine, pineapple, fig, coconut, apricot, melon
  • Citrus ­— zesty lemon, orange, grapefruit 
  • Berries — cherry, strawberry, raspberry, red currant, blueberry, blackberry
  • Nutty — lightly toasted almond, macadamia, nougat
  • Creamy — smooth milk chocolate, buttery shortbread, cream
  • Sugar — honey, light brown sugar, butterscotch, maple syrup 
  • Floral — chamomile, jasmine, orange blossom, hibiscus

Also Read: What’s The Deal With Fruity Tasting Coffee?

These nuanced flavors are woven gently into the cup of light roast coffee. They’re subtle notes that bring the regular earthiness of your coffee to life. 

What to Look for in Light Roast Beans

You’ve got the lowdown on light roast beans, but how do you choose the best light roast beans for you? 

For a mind-blowing cup of light roast coffee, look out for these things when buying your beans: 

  • The fresher the roast, the better the beans. Once roasted, the flavor compounds in coffee beans escape as they’re exposed to light, heat, and air. You don’t want to lose that precious flavor, so buy freshly roasted beans! The sweet spot for brewing is about 2 -10 days from roasting. At JavaPresse, we ship our beans within 2 hours of roasting, so you’re guaranteed super fresh coffee.  
  • Look for good flavor notes. The more descriptive the notes, the better off you’ll be. Firstly, because this means the bean-seller knows their coffee. And secondly, you won’t be surprised by notes of grapefruit and chamomile when you really just wanted a hint of peach and nougat in your brew to pair with your morning croissant. 
  • Bean origin transparency is important. Ask yourself—Where did those beans come from? Was it a single farm or multiple farms? Were they grown with care? Were they grown by farmers who are being paid a fair wage? If the brand you’re buying from isn’t transparent with these details, it’s best to look elsewhere to ensure you’re getting high quality beans. 
  • Check on the brand. Make sure the brand you’re buying from is the real deal and has some decent reviews. Or, ask your barista for their recommendations. In other words, buy from a respected source to avoid disappointment. We’ve listed some of our favorites below! 

Also Read: Gourmet vs Premium Coffee… What’s the Difference?

Coffee nirvana is just a freshly roasted bag of beans away. But, you might need to try a few to find your favorite. Every brand has their own unique light roast, so it all comes down to personal flavor preference. 

7 of the Best Light Roast Coffees to Try 

We’ve rounded up 7 of the best light roast coffee beans on offer, so you can skip the head-scratching and start sipping your way to better coffee.  

🏆 #1: JavaPresse Extra Mile Light Roast Blend

At JavaPresse, we believe coffee is a gateway for more — we want to transform your favorite coffee ritual into an extraordinary daily experience filled with joy (and caffeine). We produce high quality, seriously delicious coffee while supporting communities and empowering farmers. 

Our original flagship coffee, Extra Mile, is light and complex with a juicy body worth sipping and savoring. 

  • Tastes like: Rich dark chocolate, citrus, tropical fruit 
  • Origin: Narino, Colombia

We’re also really proud to support the farmers behind this coffee in Colombia who destroyed their coca farms to exit the drug trade. This coffee was grown in its place, and every bag sold helps those farmers build a better life for their families and community—you can read the full impact story here.

#2: Equator Coffees Endless Summer

This is Equator Coffee’s seasonal light blend, bright with tangy raspberry notes and a maple sweetness. Though it’s largely a blend of leftover beans from the current season, this season’s iteration is super delicious.

  • Tastes like: Raspberry, maple, and apricot
  • Origin: Kenya, Guatemala, Ethiopia

#3: Cuvée Coffee Ethiopia

This medium-light roast is a single origin from Ethiopia. It’s naturally processed, meaning the coffee beans are left to dry inside the coffee fruit (rather than be separated then dried). The result is a pretty boldly fruity coffee with a heavy body.

  • Tastes like: Berry - Lingering Finish 
  • Origin: Guji, Oromia, Ethiopia

#4: Amavida Animo Blend

Amavida’s Animo blend has more of a classic light roast profile. Though what it lacks in wild flavor it makes up for in simplicity and comfort. It brews a smooth cup with a lovely acidity and clean finish.

  • Tastes like: Crisp, lively, clean

  • Origin: San Marcos, Cajamarca

#5: Ceremony Coffee Ethiopia Damo Honey

This blend of coffees from Guatemala and Ethiopia produces a citrus-forward flavor and a sugarcane sweetness. It’s a great pick for coffee lovers who want some pop and zing in their morning cup.

  • Tastes like: Lychee, Mandarin Orange, Vibrant
  • Origin: Sidama, Ethiopia 

#6: White Rock Coffee Columbia Tolima Typica Natural

White Rock is a lesser-known roaster, but their coffee speaks for itself. This Colombian bean features a complex candy-like profile and a lower chocolate note that balances it all out.

  • Tastes like: Cherry candy, jammy pineapple, floral honey, chocolate 
  • Origin: Tolima, Colombia

#7: Joe Coffee Company Guatemala San José

Joe Coffee’s single origin Guatemala is another classic take on the daily drinker light roast with a sweet and creamy profile, followed by a hint of light fruity notes.

  • Tastes like: Crème brûlée, cherry, pear   
  • Origin: Antigua, Guatemala

Common Questions About Buying Light Roast Coffee Beans

Have burning light roast coffee questions? We’ve got the answers. 

Is Light Roast Coffee Acidic?

All coffee is acidic. Coffee has a pH value of 4.85 – 5.10, which is slightly acidic, though not as acidic as say, beer, orange juice, or soda. 

When we talk about acidity in coffee though, we aren’t referring to its pH, we’re referring to its perceived acidity, or how sour it tastes when it hits your tongue. Acidity in coffee is desirable. It’s a flavor note, and more acidity means more complexity and ‘brightness’. 

Also Read: Why You Need To Be Drinking Coffee Black (And How To Start)

So, is light roast coffee higher in acidic flavor? Yes. 

  • The shorter roasting time leads to more perceived acid and ‘pop’. The roasting process breaks down some of the acidic flavors that are present in the green coffee beans, which is why darker beans are lower in perceived acidity, and lighter beans are higher in perceived acidity. 
  • Light roasts retain the bright, flavorful acids of the green bean. Ideally, light roasts preserve the good acids that add bright notes of fruit and citrus, while reducing the harsher acids that can take away from the flavor experience. Roasters aim to find the right balance while preserving the integrity of the bean.
  • Your brewing method will affect the level of perceived acidity. Hot water reacts with coffee bean oils to release acidity. So, lower water temperatures and a shorter extraction time will reduce the amount of acidity in your cup of coffee. Your grind size can also be tweaked to change the level of perceived acidity. Cold brew skips past the reaction between hot water and coffee bean oils completely, leaving the acidic flavor behind. 

Let your taste buds lead the way, they’re never wrong! Stick with the acidity level you prefer.

Does Light Roast Coffee Have More Caffeine?

You might have heard the myth that light roast beans have more caffeine, or maybe you were under the impression that dark roast has more caffeine, because of its stronger, bolder, more intense flavor.   

This is false. 

The caffeine difference between light and dark roast is negligible. 

However, light roast beans are denser than dark roast beans, because they retain more of their water content, and dark roast beans are bigger because they expand in size as they roast. 

So, the caffeine content of your brew will be determined by how you measure your coffee.

  • If you scoop your beans, you’ll end up with more caffeine per scoop of light roast beans than dark roast beans because of the higher density and smaller size. You can fit more light roast beans in a scoop than dark roast, hence, more caffeine. 
  • If you weigh your beans, you’ll end up with the same mass, and thus the same amount of caffeine regardless of whether you use light roast or dark roast. Weighing your beans is always a more precise and consistent way to measure. 

Also Read: The Golden Rations of Coffee Brewing

Regardless of whether you’re a scooper or a weigher, you’re unlikely to notice the caffeine difference between light and dark roast beans. 

Dark vs Light Roast Coffee

Dark roast beans have been the roasting standard for most of coffee’s history. The beans, roasted to 465°F or until the ‘second crack’, end up a dark brown color and have a glossy film of oil coating the surface.  

With the evolution of roasting science and new technology, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to coax new, fresh flavors out of coffee beans by roasting them lightly. If you’re a dark roast lover looking to try something a little different, light roast might just surprise you. 

Quick dark roast facts: 

  • The long roasting process produces a coffee with a robust, full-body and plenty of smoky, dark chocolate, roasted nut flavors. 
  • A dark roast can be used to mask the flavor of low-quality beans and make them all taste the same — bitter, earthy, nutty, a little charred, and often one-note. 
  • Mass coffee producers tend to favor dark roast beans because they can mix and match different beans and cover any variances in flavor. Simply put, it’s easier for them. 
  • If you love the taste of diner coffee, dark roast is for you. That classic, strong, inky cup we imagine when we think ‘coffee’ is typical of a dark roast bean. 

In contrast, the lesser roasting time for light roast beans produces an aromatic, complex coffee with bright acidity and fruity, floral notes. 

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

Light roast beans better capture the spirit of the origin region in which they’re grown. You can taste the farm and its region, the grower’s gentle handling, and the roaster’s individual process. 

There’s nowhere to hide.

Producing delicious light roast coffee is a craft. From start to finish, the beans need to be treated with care to produce exceptional, high-quality coffee. 

 Light Roast vs Dark Roast Coffee at a Glance


Light Roast Coffee

Dark Roast Coffee


Light, fruity, floral, sweet

Deep, chocolate, nutty, caramel, bitter-ish





Light, juicy

Heavy, dense


Bright and vibrant

Rich and classic

Nuance Level

Tons of nuance

Similar flavors

Roast Temp

350 – 400°F



Medium vs Light Roast Coffee

As you can probably guess, medium roast coffee falls somewhere in the middle of the light–dark roast spectrum. 

The beans are roasted until they reach 400° – 430°F, past the first crack but not all the way to the second crack. They’re brown, rarely have an oily residue, and have a balanced flavor. 

Medium roast beans: 

  • Have a well-rounded flavor. They retain some of the bean’s fruitiness, acidity, and origin flavors, but are mellowed and tempered with bolder, darker, toastier notes. 
  • Taste darker and sweeter than light roast. Think dark caramel, bittersweet chocolate cookies, nutella, and crimson fruits like plum, blackberry, and cherry. 
  • Produce a coffee with a thicker body than light roast coffee. Though not as thick and hefty as a dark roast brew.   

Though medium roast beans produce a great middle-of-the-road and easy to drink coffee, they lose their more delicate, fruity notes to the longer roasting process. 

Also Read: How Much Should You Pay For Coffee Beans?

To appreciate the full complexity of the bean—where it’s been grown, how it’s been processed, the roasting technique, the myriad of flavors—a light roast is the only way to go.

This is why coffee lovers and baristas around the world are increasingly choosing a lighter roast as their go-to coffee bean. 

Medium vs Light Roast Coffee at a Glance


Light Roast Coffee

Medium Roast Coffee


Light, fruity, floral, sweet

Chocolate cookie, dark fruits, brown sugar





Light, juicy

Smooth, buttery 


Bright and vibrant

Sweet and toasty

Nuance Level

Tons of nuance

Well-rounded, balanced flavor

Roast Temp

350 – 400°F

400° – 430°F


Try Our Light Roast, Get a Free Coffee Grinder!

Our signature light roast beans will put a little spring in your step and infuse your day with energy. They’re light and complex with a juicy body and rich dark chocolate, citrus, and tropical fruit tasting notes. 

They’re grown in Narino, Columbia by farmers dedicated to producing exceptional beans. To escape the drug trade, the farmers burned down their coca farms and planted coffee shrubs instead — this coffee supports their mission to provide for their families in a safe, sustainable way. 

Elevate your mornings with a subscription to our coffee club — get a 14% discount on your light roast beans and score our award-winning grinder for FREE (who doesn’t love coffee and free stuff?).