Looking for the best medium roast coffee? You’re not alone. The medium roast bean is incredibly popular, striking the perfect balance between light and bright and toasty and rich.
But with so many different brands of medium roast coffee on the market, how do you choose coffees you love without wasting time on those that fall flat?
In this guide, you’ll discover why medium roast coffee is so well-loved and how to choose the best beans for you.
- Why medium roast coffee is the perfect middle-ground between light and dark roasts
- The deliciously nuanced flavors you’ll find in medium roast coffee
- Answers to your biggest medium roast coffee questions (is it acidic?)
- 7 of the best medium roast coffees worth trying in your next brew
By the end, you’ll know exactly what to look for when you’re buying medium roast coffee beans, so you can enjoy the perfect cup every time.
Medium Roast Coffee in a Jiffy
Medium roast coffees are quiet achievers, often overlooked in favor of their loud dark and light roast siblings. But, the medium roast is becoming incredibly popular, as baristas and coffee lovers alike realize they boast a delicious harmony of exciting flavors and incredible versatility.
What you need to know:
- Medium roast beans are roasted for less time than dark roast beans but longer than light roast beans. They fall (you guessed it) somewhere in the middle.
- They taste sweet, fruity, nutty, and complex and have a balanced acidity and body.
- A medium roast preserves the flavors of the bean’s origin while smoothing out some of the harsher flavors and adding a little toasty goodness.
- The medium roast bean was the first foray into lighter, brighter styles of coffee: a caffeine trailblazer.
Looking to dip your toes into the ocean of nuanced coffee flavors? Medium roast might be your new favorite thing.
🏆 Our Top Medium Roast: JavaPresse Happy Place
Ripe with a bold body and notes of candied nuts, bright citrus, and deep nutty chocolate, Happy Place is a balanced and lovable blend of Guatemalan and Colombian beans. This coffee is a perfect example of medium roast’s crowd-pleasing potential and is a delicious, nuanced, yet infinitely drinkable option for anyone — coffee snobs, coffee newbies, and baristas alike.
The bean farmers of Columbia and Guatemala—who work tirelessly to bring joy and stability to their communities—inspired this blend. It unites the flavors of two humble origins to create a truly balanced, satisfying blend that begins and ends with celebrating life’s small pleasures. Happy Place encourages you to brew carefully, sip slowly, and take a moment to embrace the day.
What is Medium Roast Coffee?
Medium roast coffees have a medium-full body and are sweet and fruity with smooth, toasted nut flavors. Here’s how to spot the perfect medium roast:
- Medium roasted beans are a medium brown color and have a matte appearance. They’ve been roasted more gently than a dark roast, 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.
- Medium roast coffee preserves the character of the bean’s origin region while smoothing out some of the harsher, acidic notes. Medium roast coffee honors the flavor of the bean’s origin country while adding the toasty, rich chocolate flavors that we’ve come to expect from dark roast styles of coffee. It’s a distinct style, and roasters play around with the degree of roasting to tease out different flavors.
- The beans are roasted until they reach a temperature of 400–430°F. Beans generally pop or ‘crack’ at about 350°F. Medium roast beans are generally roasted past the ‘first crack’, but before the ‘second crack’. The degree of roasting depends on the roaster’s preference and process, and the desired flavor profile.
- Medium roast coffee was the first step towards lighter roasts. 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. A medium roast led us into the shiny new world of lighter roasts.
What Does Medium Roast Coffee Taste Like?
Medium roasts produce a balanced, harmonious cup of coffee. They have nuance and complexity, though they’re smooth and easy to love (like a buttery choc-chip cookie!).
Medium roast coffee flavor notes to look out for:
- Fruit — plum, blackberries, cooked apple, citrus
- Nutty — cashew, peanut butter, toasted almond, candied nuts
- Creamy — smooth milk chocolate, brown butter
- Sugar — caramel, honey, brown sugar, cookies
- Spice — black pepper, cloves, vanilla
These flavors are woven gently into the cup of medium roast coffee. They’re subtle notes that bring the regular earthiness of your coffee to life.
What to Look For in Medium Roast Beans
You’re sold on trying a bag of medium roast coffee, but how do you choose the best medium roast beans for you?
- The fresher the roast, the better the beans. The sweet spot for brewing is 2-10 days after roasting. At JavaPresse, we ship our beans within 2 hours of roasting, so you’re guaranteed super fresh coffee.
- Always purchase whole beans and grind just before brewing. After just 10 minutes post-grinding, your coffee will have lost a noticeable amount of flavor. So, buying whole beans and grinding them fresh is a must. Need a grinder? Try our award-winning burr grinder!
- Look for good flavor notes. The more descriptive the flavor profile listed on the packaging, the higher quality your coffee will be. This means the brand knows their coffee and has taken the time to find the ideal medium roast profile. It also makes it easier to choose flavors that suit your taste buds (and that mesh with your morning blueberry muffin!).
- 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 make sure you’re getting high-quality beans.
Every brand has its own unique medium roast, so it all comes down to personal flavor preference.
7 of the Best Medium Roast Coffees to Try
We’ve rounded up seven of the best medium roast coffee beans on offer, so you can stop staring at bags of coffee in the supermarket aisle and start sipping on a smooth cup of medium roast.
At JavaPresse, we believe your morning coffee ritual is a gateway to an extraordinary daily experience filled with joy (and caffeine). We produce high-quality, seriously delicious coffee while supporting communities and empowering farmers.
Our ripe and bold medium roast coffee, Happy Place, is all about capturing warmth and joy in a cup. Imagine a rainy Sunday afternoon: steaming mug in one hand, a good book in the other. It’s about finding balance, reconnecting, and relaxing into the flavors and feelings of the brew.
- Tastes like: Candied nuts, citrus, smooth chocolate
- Origin: Guatemala + Colombia
We’re also really proud to support the farmers behind this coffee in Guatemala and Colombia who work to bring joy and stability to their communities. Happy Place unites the flavors of two inspiring origins to create a memorable coffee.
Golden Sound from Barista Parlor is a washed and natural medium roast. It has a deliciously smooth and sweet flavor and is a perfect example of medium roast’s easy-to-drink nature.
- Tastes like: Smooth, sweet, chocolatey
- Origin: Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Brazil
The name of this coffee blend says it all: this medium roast certainly does have mass appeal. It has a soft acidity, a creamy mouthfeel, and notes of milk chocolate and sugar cookie.
- Tastes like: Milk chocolate, sugar cookie, creamy
- Origin: Columbia and Peru
Made with a rotating blend of three seasonally fresh coffees, this medium roast offers a ripe cherry acidity, lots of chocolate, and a deep brown sugar sweetness. It’s great with cream and sugar, and also tastes fantastic served black.
- Tastes like: Chocolate, brown sugar, cherry
- Origin: Various
Fruit forward and full-bodied, the Sermon medium roast is playful and approachable. This easy-drinking blend is crafted with thoughtfully chosen, naturally-processed coffees and is delicious as espresso or brewed as a pour-over.
- Tastes like: Blueberry pie, cocoa, candied pecans
- Origin: Columbia, East Africa
Islands In The Stream is a complex, single-origin medium roast with notes of baking spice and sweet cola. Perfect brewed as a pour over, French Press, or espresso.
- Tastes like: Apple pie, baking spice, cola
- Origin: Single origin, not specified
This direct-trade medium roast is grown with care in the Carmo De Minas region of Brazil. It’s incredibly easy to drink, with a full body, smooth mouthfeel, and notes of cinnamon, almond, and mild lemon zest.
- Tastes like: Cinnamon, lemon zest, almond, smooth
- Origin: Brazil
Common Questions About Buying Medium Roast Coffee Beans
We answer all of your medium roast coffee questions!
Is Medium 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 other beverages like 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 — more acidity means more complexity and ‘brightness’.
So, is medium roast coffee higher in acidic flavor than a dark roast? Yes. And it’s lower in acidic flavor than a light roast.
- 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 green coffee beans, which is why darker beans are lower in perceived acidity, and lighter beans are higher in perceived acidity.
- Medium roasts retain some of the bright, flavorful acids of the green bean while reducing the harsher acids. The middle-of-the-road roasting time preserves some of the good acids that add bright notes of fruit and citrus but trades some acidity for delicious, toasty flavor.
- Your brewing method will affect the level of perceived acidity. Hot water reacts with coffee bean oils to release acidity. Lower water temperatures and a shorter extraction time will reduce the amount of acidity in your brew. Your grind size can also be tweaked to change the level of perceived acidity.
Let your taste buds lead the way; they’re never wrong! Stick with the acidity level you prefer. Medium roasts tend to have a balanced acidity and a harmony of flavors.
How Much Caffeine Is In Medium Roast Coffee?
You might have heard the myth that medium roast beans have more caffeine because they’re roasted less, or maybe you thought that dark roast would have more caffeine because of its stronger, bolder, more intense flavor.
This is false.
The caffeine difference between light, medium, and dark roasts is negligible.
However, medium roast beans are denser than dark roast beans because they hold more of their water content, and dark roast beans are bigger because they expand in size as they roast.
How you measure and brew your coffee will determine the caffeine content of your brew:
- If you scoop your beans, you’ll end up with slightly more caffeine per scoop of medium roast beans than dark roast beans because of the higher density and somewhat smaller size. You can fit more medium roast beans in a scoop than a 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 medium roast or dark roast. Weighing your beans is always a more precise and consistent way to measure.
- More coffee beans per brew equals more caffeine. Espresso-style coffee uses more beans for a condensed, strong, and intense shot. So, your espresso will have you buzzing a little more than say, a French press.
Regardless of your measuring and brewing methods, you’re unlikely to notice the caffeine difference between light, medium, and dark roast beans.
Dark vs Medium 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.
Quick dark roast facts:
- The long roasting process produces a coffee with a robust, full-body and plenty of smoky, dark chocolate, and 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 flat.
- 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 roasters to produce dark roasts.
- 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.
Medium roast coffee tends to have a more interesting and diverse flavor profile. The lighter roast preserves the characteristics of the bean’s origin while adding a touch of that rich, toasted flavor we’ve come to expect from a cup of coffee. If you’re a dark roast lover looking to try something slightly different and a little more nuanced, a medium roast might be just the change you need.
Medium Roast vs Dark Roast Coffee at a Glance
Medium Roast Coffee
Dark Roast Coffee
Chocolate cookie, dark fruits, brown sugar
Deep, chocolate, nutty, caramel, bitter-ish
Sweet and toasty
Rich and classic
Well-rounded, balanced flavor
Light vs Medium Roast Coffee
Light roast coffees are the new kid on the coffee scene. They’re light-bodied and taste fruity and unique, with different blends and roasts creating huge variations in their flavor profiles. The beans are only roasted until they reach a temperature of 350-400°F, or until the first ‘crack’. They’re light brown and have a non-oily appearance.
Light roast beans:
- Have a crisp acidity and a light, mellow body. The reduced roasting time and lower roasting temperature mean lightly roasted beans taste brighter and fruitier than their darkly roasted counterparts, and they’re higher in perceived acidity.
- Produce a cup full of nuance. Light roast coffees taste individual and complex, with notes of tropical fruits and stone fruits, citrus, berries, honey, florals, and lightly toasted nuts.
- Light roast coffee preserves the character of the bean’s origin region. It’s all about honoring and exploring the true flavor of the bean and its growing region.
Some people find light roasts too acidic, so if you love that rich, smooth, chocolatey flavor of a darker roast, you might feel as though you’re drinking a completely different beverage.
Medium roast beans lose some of their delicate fruitiness to the longer roasting process, though the toasty, buttery richness gained from the extra roasting time can be worth the trade. Medium roasts produce easy-to-love cups that are still complex and interesting.
Light Roast vs Medium Roast Coffee at a Glance
Light Roast Coffee
Medium Roast Coffee
Light, fruity, floral, sweet
Chocolate cookie, dark fruits, brown sugar
Bright and vibrant
Sweet and toasty
Tons of nuance
Well-rounded, balanced flavor
Try Our Signature Medium Roast!
Our signature medium roast beans, Happy Place, will transform your coffee ritual into an extraordinary daily experience. Relax and reconnect with a ripe and bold, smooth brew that tastes like creamy milk chocolate, citrus, and candied nuts.
Our medium roast coffee is grown in Guatemala and Columbia by farmers dedicated to producing exceptional beans and who work tirelessly to bring joy and stability to their communities. Happy Place is a coffee that unites the flavors of two inspiring origins to create a memorable coffee.