Coffee in general is a pretty subjective, mainly because it's food so some people are going to like different flavors than others. There are some types of flavors in coffee that are generally liked by all people who drink like a low level of bitters and those sweet chocolate and carmel flavors, however there are a lot of people that like a little acidy in their coffee as well. Another one of those areas that I think can be at times somewhat subjective is roast level.
What got me thinking this is my recent foray in dark roasts, I think I went through about four or five coffees that are labeled to be dark roasted. Probably the darkest of the ones that I sampled over the past month was D'arte's Natalzia blend (#14) while the lightest by far was my most recent coffee that I got from Paradise Roasters. Espresso Nuevo (#11) I believe that the Nuevo's taste was more bean centric than the Natalzia's in large part because there was a nice amount of fruit in the coffee that I had from it, while the Natalzia was primarily bitter sweet chocolate with some spice in the end, which I believe is mainly a taste of the roast.
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I took this table from the Sweet Maria's website, an excellent website for home roaster's that does offer a great variety of green coffee beans and a wealth of knowledge.
Anyway, using their table as a guide I generally consider the top row to be under roasted the next one down light roasted, the next medium and finally the last one dark. So really using my own standards I would really consider the Nuevo a medium roast. A dark roast to me is something more like the Velton's Twilight blend that I sampled which was like a 13 on that scale and you could taste the bean, but there was a little bit of that roasted flavor that a lot people enjoy (spice/chocolate).
However, what is really interesting to me was today when I opened up the bag of Espresso Classico by Paradise Roasters that is labeled as a medium roast. The coffee looks to be almost the same exact roast as the Nuevo. So I am sitting here wondering how one can be considered dark the other be considered medium when they both look like they are medium!
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I guess the moral of the story is that not all roasts are alike. And while I did really enjoy the Nuevo it's probably not what I would consider a classical dark roast, and would direct someone towards Velton's Twilight if that's what you want.
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