"What Color is Your Coffee Roast" by Karen Paterson

Visitors to the Hula Daddy Kona Coffee plantation ask us do we have dark roast, medium roast, or light roast. The answer in each case is “It depends on what you mean by dark, medium or light roast.” There is no standard definition for coffee roasts. One roaster’s french roast is another roaster’s medium roast. In most cases, the roast name on the package is the marketing name that the roaster believes will sell the best. We have bought coffee labeled medium roast that was black and oily – the signature of a very dark roast.

Each year we take samples of Hula Daddy Kona Coffee and roast them to different degrees of darkness. We then pick the roast that maximizes the body against the acidity but still keeps subtle flavors like citrus, chocolate and cinnamon. We think there is a sweet spot where both the acidity and body are in balance. But then we roast some of our coffee just a little more because many of our customers insist that they only like dark roasts. However, we refuse to roast coffee until it is dark and oily. All of the flavors of coffee are in the oils. Driving coffee oil to the surface of the bean allows the oil to oxidize and turn rancid.

Light roasts have higher acidity and less body. The darker the coffee is roasted the less acidity and the more body. People on the east coast seem to like lighter roasts, customers on the west coast like darker roasts. Here are are some of the roasts used for Kona coffee with bean colors that you can understand:


Also known as




City Roast Light roast; cinnamon roast Ground cinnamon Definite sour tones, little to no body Low
City + Roast Full City Roast Medium; American roast Hershey Milk Chocolate color; beans appear dry High acidity; full body This roast allows whatever subtle flavors bean to come through in the cup. Taste fruit, spice, nut & etc flavors in the coffee. Mild
Full City+ Roast Medium-dark roast; European espresso roast Hershey dark chocolate color; beans appear dry Medium acidity; medium body; subtle secondary flavors More body and carmalized sugar sweetnes, less subtle flavors Strong
Light French Roast Dark roast; Vienna roast Hershey dark chocolate color; beans have spots of oil Medium acidity; medium body Mild
Full French Roast Dark roast; American espresso roast Dark chocolate color; beans are totally oily Low acidity; heavy body; low flavor; no subtle tastes Mild
Italian Spanish roast;Charbucks roast Barbeque charcoal color Burnt flavor; burns the throat None

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Hula Daddy Kona Coffee is the winner of the 2014 Kona Coffee Cupping Competition. Karen is a member of the Hawaii Coffee Association, the Kona Coffee Council, the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, and the Specialty Coffee Association of America. She is also the author of a number of articles on Kona Coffee including: Coffee Fraud https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=2337: Kona Coffee Farmers at a Crossroad https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=696 ;How Typica is Your Kona Coffee? https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=710 ; Are Roasters Eroding the Kona Coffee Brand?https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=952; Coffee Cupping Competitions – Real or Random Chance? https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=1670 ; Seven Easy Steps to Become a Gourmet Coffee Taster https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=1785 ; How to Brew Coffee Using a Pour Over Filter https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=1754; Before You Buy an Automatic Single Serve Coffee Brewer https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=1899; Siphon Coffee Brewers Suck! https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=2026; Sweet Coffee https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=2144;What Color is Your Coffee Roast? https://www.huladaddy.com/?p=4 You can email her at huladaddycoffee@gmail.com

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