Best Light Roast Coffee Beans: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Reviewed by Urban Bean Coffee Team

on August 6, 2021

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11

Products Considered

149

Hours of Research

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Experts Interviewed

25

Customers Consulted

Light roasts preserve the natural flavor of the beans, which originates from the place they were grown. This roast helps to reveal notes of flowers, berries, and fruits in the finished drink.

Finding best light roast coffee beans is difficult. Any errors during growing, processing, or storage can spoil the taste of the finished drink.

While roasting to a darker level can smooth out the defects of the beans, a light roast doesn't have this advantage. So beans must be of very high quality for a light roast.

We spent over 30 hours studying customer reviews of the most popular light roast beans and of the roasting companies themselves. Then we brewed the roasters' beans in various ways and tried the finished drinks.

As a result, we've found the best light roast coffee brands based on brewing method.

Let's take a look.


OUR TOP PICK

Spirit Animal Coffee

Spirit Animal Light Roast Coffee

An excellent choice for specialty coffee lovers. When brewed, this coffee has notes of jasmine and tropical fruits and also leaves a creamy chocolate-and-hazelnut aftertaste.

Key Features

Guaranteed fresh with every purchase

Perfect for any coffee brewing methods

• The company supports coffee farmers


BEST ORGANIC PICK

Lifeboost Coffee

LifeBoost Light Roast Coffee

I know you’re going to love this coffee. After one try, you’ll never go back to mass-produced toxin-loaded “generic” coffee.

Key Features

No pesticides, chemicals, GMOs, or mycotoxins 

It is full bodied flavor with a great aroma and the packaging is natural and adorable 

Every bag of this coffee is guaranteed 100% Arabica beans


BEST PREMIUM PICK

Volcanica Coffee

Volcanica Espresso Beans

Ethiopian coffee is used by many coffee shops around the world, including big brands like Starbucks and Coffee Beanery.

Key Features

4 ground coffees available: for drip, pour-over, espresso machine and French press

The best Ethiopia dry-processed coffee tends to be medium-bodied and brilliantly acidy

It includes a thick body and an earthy aroma coupled with cinnamon and strawberry


BEST DECAF PICK

Lion Coffee

Lion Decaf Light Roast Coffee

It's very difficult to find a good light roast decaf, but we found it.

Key Features

Budget-friendly price

The caffeine is removed via the chemical-free Swiss Water Process

 Has a mellow taste and a sweet, slightly citrusy finish


BEST FOR ESPRESSO

Equator Coffees

Equator Light roast coffee

Making a delicious espresso from light roasted beans is possible and we've found the perfect coffee for that.

Key Features

Organic and Fair Trade certified

Single-origin Arabic beans

Flavors of apple, pecan, toffee


Best Light Roast Coffee 

What's the best tasting light roast coffee? Let’s jump to find whole bean light roasts for each taste, including 100% arabica, single origin, flavored, blonde roasts etc. Without further ado, here are the best light roast coffee:

1. Spirit Animal Coffee - Best Overall

Editor's Rating: 9.7

Spirit Animal Light Roast Coffee

Specifications

  • Beans: Specialty Arabica
  • Origin: Honduras
  • Flavor profile: Jasmine, tropical fruit
  • Best for: Hario V60, Chemex, cold brew

We were delighted by this coffee's delicious taste of creamy chocolate with a praline finish, as well as by its aftertaste with notes of tropical fruits and jasmine.

To achieve these flavors, the company blends several Honduran coffees that have received over 90 points on the SCA scale.

It is not easy to get such a high score. Special growing conditions must be observed.

The coffee is cultivated at an altitude of 1,835 meters, where day and night temperature changes slow down the ripening of the coffee cherries. As a result, they store more acids and sugars, which makes the coffee taste brighter and richer.

The beans are then harvested by hand and unripe or defective berries are left behind.


2. Lifeboost Coffee - Best Organic Light Roast Coffee

Editor's Rating: 9.6

LifeBoost Light Roast Coffee

Specifications

  • Beans: Single-origin 100% Arabica
  • Origin: Nicaraguan mountains
  • Certifications: USDA Organic
  • Best for: Any brewing method

This is an organic coffee grown on plantations in the Nicaraguan mountains. No chemical fertilizers are used.

The coffee grows in the shade of other trees and plants. This allows the soil to retain moisture longer, and the fallen leaves act as a natural fertilizer.

In addition, birds living in the trees eat insects, so pesticides are not needed.

Shade-grown coffee has a rich and complex flavor due to the slow ripening of the berries. The high-quality beans are hand-picked and then dried to an optimum moisture content of 11.5%. They're free from defects, mold, and mycotoxins.


3. Volcanica Coffee Company — Best Premium Pick

Editor's Rating: 9.4

Volcanica Espresso Beans

Specifications

  • Beans: Single-origin 100% Arabica
  • Origin: Ethiopia
  • Certifications: Fair Trade certified, Kosher certified
  • Best for: Cold brew, Chemex, AeroPress, French press

The long brewing time of cold brew helps reveal the flavors that are characteristic of certain countries.

Therefore, for this method, we chose coffee from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. Coffee connoisseurs love beans from this area because of their exotic taste with pronounced notes of flowers, berries, and fruits.

You can feel notes of blueberry and blackberry with a slight lemon acidity.

This Volcanica coffee is organically grown, Fair Trade certified, and Kosher certified.


4. Lion Coffee — Best Decaf Pick

Editor's Rating: 9.2

Lion Decaf Light Roast Coffee

Specifications

  • Beans: Premium Hawaiian Arabica beans
  • Origin: Hawaii
  • Best for: Any brewing method

It's hard to find delicious decaf.

We brewed 5 light roast decaf coffees, and Lion Coffee was the best. Its taste is bright with a pleasant sweetness and citrus notes. Lions' light roast decaf also ranks high in our list of the best decaf coffee beans.

The company uses the Swiss Water Process for decaffeination. This method does not use harsh chemicals, only pure fresh water and time. It removes up to 99.9% of the caffeine from the beans and preserves their flavor.


5. Equator Coffees — Best For Espresso

Editor's Rating: 9.0

Equator Light roast coffee

Specifications

  • Beans: Arabica
  • Origin: Kayanza Province, Africa
  • Flavor profile: Apple, pecan
  • Best for: Espresso, French press, AeroPress


Some people believe that light roast can't be used for espresso, but that's not true. Light roasts never give a strong bitterness, and for a good taste, you just need to know a few tricks.

Choose a very fine grind and set the timer for the best brewing time for this roast: 31–35 seconds. Also, if you let the coffee cool slightly after grinding, the extraction will be better.

These beans are sweet and spiced, with flavors of apple, pecan, toffee, and clove. Espresso brewed with them is rich and unusual with a slight acidic tartness.

This coffee is not distinguished by its taste, but also by its quality. It is harvested by hand and then sorted so that unripe or defective berries do not end up in the final batch.

Equator Coffees purchases these beans through JNP Coffee, an East African gender equality company that trains women farmers in coffee production and provides leadership and financial literacy training.


6. Coffee Over Cardio — Best Keto-Friendly

Editor's Rating: 9.0

Coffee Over Cardio Light Roast

Specifications

  • Beans: 100% Arabica blend
  • Origin: Brazil, Colombia, India
  • Flavor profile: Nuts, pear, honey
  • Best for: Any brewing method

When we brewed this breakfast blend, we got a light, aromatic drink with a mild taste.

To create the coffee, the company blends Arabica beans from Colombia, Brazil, and India.

Colombian beans are selected for their quality and their complex, rich flavor. Columbian coffee is promoted and controlled at the government level, and there are strict quality standards behind it.

Beans from Brazil and India do not have a bright acidity. They are added to the blend to make the drink taste soft and sweet.


7. Coffee Bros. — Best on Amazon

Editor's Rating: 8.8

Coffee Bros Light Roast Coffee Beans

Specifications

  • Beans: 100% Arabica blend
  • Origin: Ethiopia, Colombia
  • Flavor profile: Honey, citrus fruit, floral
  • Best for: French press, AeroPress, espresso, pour-over

When brewed in a French Press, this light roast coffee blend reveals a honey sweetness with floral notes.

Coffee Bros. uses a variety of Caturra Arabica in its light roast. Coffee made from these beans is characterized by a fairly high acidity and a light, soft bouquet that is very similar to that of bourbon. The taste characteristics of this variety are good.

To achieve the best effect, Coffee Bros. uses a unique combination of the best coffee beans from two countries: Ethiopia and Colombia. Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and the Arabica varieties produced here are recognized as the best of the best. And the huge popularity of Colombian coffee is due to the strict quality control carried out by the country's National Federation of Coffee Growers.


8. Caribou Coffee — Best Light Roast K-Cups

Editor's Rating: 9.5

Caribou Light Roast K-cup Coffee

Specifications

  • Origin: Central and South America, East Africa
  • Flavor profile: Cheery floral, sweet caramel, nuts
  • Certifications: Rainforest Alliance certified, Kosher certified
  • Best for: Keurig

Finding good K-Cup coffee can be difficult, as the taste is usually not very intense.

In the reviews of this Caribou Coffee, many noted that the drink is quite strong, even if you brew large cups of coffee. We checked it out, and now it's on our list.

We noted the good quality of these K-Cups: the coffee did not get too thick, unlike many other brands in this price range.

The coffee is certified by the Rainforest Alliance. This means that the beans are grown with care for the environment and that farmers are fairly compensated for their work.


Light Roast Coffee

Is Light Roast Coffee the Strongest?

No. Coffee's strength is influenced by the ratio of water to ground coffee, as well as grind size and extraction time. For the strongest cup, you'll need finely ground beans, little water compared to grounds, and a longer brewing time.

What Kind of Coffee Is Light Roast?

Light roasting is ideal for high-quality Arabica varieties, for example, high-mountain varieties from Kenya, Nicaragua, and Jamaica. These beans reveal their taste after just a few minutes of roasting. Monosorts with citrus acidity and fruity aroma, like those from Columbia, are also good for light roasting.

Light roasting allows you to preserve the taste and aroma that coffee beans acquire due to climatic conditions and growing characteristics. That is, it is a good roast to assess the taste differences of different Arabica varieties. Robusta is roasted more darkly—it does not have a bright aroma and needs prolonged roasting to give the drink its taste.

What to Look for When Buying the Best Light Roast Coffee

Although light roasted coffees share some common traits, products from different companies can vary greatly. There are many factors that affect the taste of coffee, and below we will look at the ones that affect it the most.

Taste profile

To help you make your choice, many manufacturers list the flavor notes that are revealed in the brewed coffee. Some even point out which brewing method will reveal the flavor most fully.

Origin

If the manufacturer has not specified a taste profile, pay attention to the place where the coffee is grown. Typically, coffee from a certain region has certain flavor characteristics, though this only applies to single origin coffee, as blends can contain different varieties of beans or beans from different countries.

When compared to dark roasted coffee, the origin of light roasted coffee beans can more easily be traced based only on their taste because this roast fully reveals nuanced characteristics.

If you want more fruity notes, East African and Arabian countries cultivate the best beans for light roast coffee. Light roasted beans may also have earthy notes; if you want to emphasize these notes, look for Asian growing regions. Colombia, meanwhile, is better suited for floral notes.

Single-origin coffee or blends

Single-origin is coffee made from beans of the same variety all grown in the same geographic region. In this case, the relationship between growing conditions and coffee taste is strong. Such a product often costs more because it offers better quality.

Sometimes, though, a variety's unique characteristics are too brightly manifested in the taste. To make the taste more balanced and rounded, roasters combine beans from several varieties and regions into blends.

Date of roast

For light and dark roasts, the date of the roast is important. It's best to use coffee within a week of roasting. While this is unrealistic for most people, you should still try to buy a product with a printed roasting date so you can buy and use the coffee as close to that date as possible. If you have tightly sealed your bag, then you can safely use it up to a few months after the roast date.

Ground or whole-bean coffee

Light roast whole bean coffee stays fresh longer, so its taste is richer with a bright aroma. Ground coffee loses some of its flavor as soon as it's ground.

It is convenient to use ground coffee because you don't have to waste time grinding. But different brewing methods require a specific grind size for the best extraction and flavor. In this case, it's best to buy whole-bean coffee so you can grind it to fit your brewing method.

Brand

With a reputable brand, you're guaranteed that the highest-quality coffee beans have been used and that the laws regarding their cultivation, harvesting, roasting, and packaging are being followed. Reputable brands, such as the ones in our review above, will not disappoint you.

Packing

Packaging plays an important role in sealing the flavors and aromas of your light roasted coffee beans. In turn, this directly affects the coffee's taste.

If you want the highest-quality taste, choose a brand that offers completely sealed packaging and roasts their coffee only after ordering.

Then you are guaranteed to get delicious light roast beans because the coffee beans are fresh and still contain their full range of aromas and tastes.

Types of light roasting

Light roasting is also called weak roasting. Coffee beans are roasted on average between two and five minutes. There are several types of light roasting:

Scandinavian roast, also called cinnamon roast, is the lightest roast. The aroma of beans is like the smell of bread that just came out of the oven. The classic coffee aroma does not yet have time to open. The beans are light, and the finished coffee is weak, with a light taste and pronounced acidity.

American or New England roasting means the beans are roasted until the first crack, at which time the oils are starting to extract and the surface of the beans becomes light brown and may glisten slightly. The taste of the finished drink is slightly richer, the acidity is preserved, and a distinct coffee aroma appears.

City Roast  Beans continue to roast after the first crack but roasting stops before the second. They become even darker, cracks may form, and the color is uneven. The aroma is pronounced and the coffee is is saturated but still with a slight acidity.

The color of light roasted coffee beans is light brown or yellowish, and their surface usually remains dry since the oils do not have time to evaporate from the beans.

Taste features of light roasted coffee

Light roasted coffee is aromatic, but its aftertaste is short lived, and the taste is not as rich and expressive as that of a drink made from more darkly roasted beans. Light roast coffee is thinner and richer, and you will find a wide range of taste shades. Why? During the roasting process, the oils inside the beans do not come to the surface; they remain inside. Also, the bean is not caramelized, so the sugars don't stand out. This explains the difference in taste.

In general, the taste of light-roasted coffee is delicate, with grassy, fruity, floral notes. Light roasting allows you to appreciate the variety of taste shades in the selected coffee. It is suitable for those who do not like bitter coffee.

Comparison with Other Roasts

To better understand a light roast, let's compare it to other popular types of roast.

Light Roast vs Medium Roast

Light roast coffee beans give the drink a high acidity. The roast retains the unique characteristics of the beans as influenced by growing conditions. You can sense fruity notes in the aroma and the special aftertaste.

Medium roast coffee beans have a slightly darker color. Medium roasted beans have a more balanced flavor with optimal acidity and aroma. When enjoying this roast, you can still experience the unique flavor and aroma of the beans, but with the caramel notes that come from a longer roasting process.

Light Roast vs. Dark Roast

Dark roast coffee beans have a shiny, polished appearance. This is due to the coffee oils coming to the surface of the beans and forming a caramelized layer during the roasting process.

Dark roast coffee beans have more bitterness combined with sweetness. A dark roast is more consistent than other roasts. Due to their intense coffee taste, these beans are used in the preparation of desserts.

Light roast coffee caffeine content

There is a common misconception that dark roast coffee contains more caffeine. When comparing light roasted beans to dark roasted coffee, the caffeine level is almost the same.

However, the density of the beans changes as you roast, and the caffeine level fluctuates depending on how much coffee you use for one cup. Coffee beans become less dense as the roasting process takes longer.

This is why you will find more dark roasted beans per pack in terms of mass. This means you need more dark roasted beans to get the same dose of caffeine than if you use light roasted beans.

FAQ

What is light roast coffee best for?

Light roast coffee works well for alternative brewing methods. AeroPress, French press, pour-over, and Chemex brewing help to unleash its full potential. Your drink will have bright notes of fruits, flowers and light citrus notes. You will get real good coffee with pleasant acidity and moderate bitterness.

What does the light roast coffee taste like?

A drink made from light roasted beans is not too strong or saturated. It has a lightly acidic taste with grassy notes that evoke memories of sunny spring days filled with the aroma of wildflowers. You can also feel the fruity notes in the taste.

What Is light roast coffee?

Light roast coffee is roasted but stopped before the first crack (a clicking sound that is released by the coffee beans when heated). During light roasting, the coffee is hardly caramelized, and a minimum of sugar and essential oils are released from the beans. Therefore, its aroma is not very strong. Light roasted coffee beans are light brown in color. Due to the low heat treatment, their surface remains dull and not oily.

What is special about light roast coffee?

The taste of light roast coffee will be original and have a more pronounced acidity. This roast brings out the fruity and floral notes that the beans have, depending on the growing conditions.

Does light roast coffee have more caffeine?

The level of caffeine in the different roasts is almost the same. The roasting process does not evaporate the caffeine, but the density of the beans decreases. The beans are denser when light roasted. If you take a dose of 20 grams of light roast and dark roast coffee, the 20 grams of light roast coffee will have more caffeine than the 20 grams of dark roast coffee simply because they’re denser. To get real good coffee of this strength from dark roasted coffee, you need to increase the dose. This is why, in equal proportions, light roasted coffee has more caffeine.

Conclusion

So, the moral of this story is that light roasted coffee is filled with complex but delicate aromas. These tend to break down when the beans are roasted for a longer time. Simply put, if you want to enjoy chocolate, nut, and fruit notes, choose a gentle, light roast breakfast blend.

Dark roast is very strong, with a more bitter taste that is not appreciated by some coffee lovers. In this case, the best light roast coffees we reviewed are great for people who prefer a less-bitter drink.

Sources:

  1. Coffee Roast Guide - National Coffee Association of U.S.A.
  2. The Ultimate Light Roast Coffee Guide: All Questions Answered - Coffee Bros.