7 Best Light Roast Coffee: Illuminating Your Coffee Experience

Updated Nov 26, 2023 • Scott Buffon

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Our Top Picks

Costa Rica Marcos and Maricela Oviedo
Best overall
Costa Rica Marcos and Maricela Oviedo
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$22 at Nostalgia
Costa Rica Marcos and Maricela Oviedo
Clout single origin colombian coffee
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$18 at Clout Coffee
Costa Rica Marcos and Maricela Oviedo
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$ at
Costa Rica Marcos and Maricela Oviedo
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Costa Rica Marcos and Maricela Oviedo
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Light roast coffee has become more popular in defiance of the dark coffee sold at coffee chains like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, but which roasteries make the best light roast coffee?

Roasters continue to experiment with temperatures and roasting times as they work toward perfecting the best light roast coffee. Roasting the bean strips the superfood of many of its health benefits, however light roasts leave more of those wonderful antioxidants intact. Light roast coffee flavors feature a complex flavor and aroma profile that distinguishes it from darker roasts.

Yet despite these facts, many people don’t like or understand it. A DriveResearch study found that many people prefer medium and dark roasts over light roasts. When they surveyed 1,500 Americans, they found that 12% of people preferred light roasts compared to the 49% who preferred medium roasts. 

Keep reading to find some of the best roasteries and how the caffeine content, health benefits, and flavors can differ from medium and dark roasts.

Best Light Roast Coffee Beans

When you’re buying a light roast coffee bean, there’s certainly a lot of variability you can expect. However, the sweetness, acidity, and floral notes are something you should expect. 

While we agree that everyone should be able to decide what the best light roast coffee beans taste like to their preferences, here are some of our favorites:

Our Picks In Detail

Costa Rica Marcos and Maricela Oviedo

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4.9 out of 5 • Buy it for $22 at Nostalgia • Price last checked Sep 01, 2023

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4.9 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Nostalgia • Price last checked Sep 01, 2023

Costa Rica Marcos and Maricela OviedoCosta Rica Marcos and Maricela Oviedo

Features

Nostalgia coffee focuses on preserving traditional coffee brewing techniques and uses high-quality beans that produce a mellow and balanced cup. Their inclusive mindset aims to create damn good coffee that is both award-winning and ethically exceptional. This cup embodies cleanliness, balance, sweetness, and exceptional drinkability. It is these remarkable qualities that have rightfully bestowed Kathia's coffee with the esteemed distinction of being a classic Nostalgia "porch pounder."

Pros

  • Smooth and comforting taste
  • Preservation of traditional brewing methods
  • Mellow and balanced flavor

Cons

  • Limited variety
  • May be too mild for those seeking bold flavors
  • Not available on Amazon

Clout single origin colombian coffee

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4.8 out of 5 • Buy it for $18 at Clout Coffee • Price last checked Jun 01, 2023

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4.8 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Clout Coffee • Price last checked Jun 01, 2023

Clout single origin colombian coffeeClout single origin colombian coffee

Features

Clout Coffee's light roast aims to make a bold statement with its vibrant and full-bodied flavor. This brand focuses on small-batch roasting and emphasizes the natural sweetness and bright acidity of their beans, resulting in a lively and invigorating cup. Bold and vibrant flavor, full-bodied, small-batch roasting, natural sweetness and bright acidity. 

Pros

  • Bold and vibrant flavor
  • Small-batch roasting

Cons

  • Strong flavor may not suit everyone's preferences
  • Limited range of roasts

Cooper's Cask Coffee - Ethiopia Light Roast Coffee

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4.8 out of 5 • Buy it for $18 at Cooper's Cask Coffee • Price last checked Dec 01, 2023

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4.8 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Cooper's Cask Coffee • Price last checked Dec 01, 2023

Cooper's Cask Coffee - Ethiopia Light Roast CoffeeCooper's Cask Coffee - Ethiopia Light Roast Coffee

Features

Roast Type: Light

Process: Dry process

Origin: Ethipia

Tasting Notes: Intensely Bright and Clean, Lemon Tart, Raw Honey, Floral Nectar

Coopers light roast coffee prides itself on its smooth and clean taste. Their beans are sourced from single-origin farms, ensuring quality and consistency. With a light body and subtle acidity, Coopers provides a refreshing and balanced cup. Smooth and clean taste, single-origin beans, refreshing and balanced flavor.

Pros

  • Smooth and clean taste
  • Lemon, honey and nectar flavors

Cons

  • Limited availability

Ethiopian Heirloom (Light-Medium Roast)

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4.6 out of 5 • Buy it for $23 at Altruistic Joe • Price last checked Jun 01, 2023

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4.6 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Altruistic Joe • Price last checked Jun 01, 2023

Ethiopian Heirloom (Light-Medium Roast)Ethiopian Heirloom (Light-Medium Roast)

Features

Altruistic Joe is a light roast coffee brand that combines great taste with a commitment to giving back. Their beans are carefully sourced from sustainable and ethically responsible farms, resulting in a smooth and well-balanced cup that supports charitable causes. 

Pros

  • Smooth and well-balanced taste
  • Sustainable and ethical sourcing
  • Support for charitable causes

Cons

  • Limited variety
  • Availability may vary

Lion Gold Roast Coffee

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4.5 out of 5 • Buy it for $12 at Hawaiian Coffee • Price last checked Jun 01, 2023

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4.5 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Hawaiian Coffee • Price last checked Jun 01, 2023

Lion Gold Roast CoffeeLion Gold Roast Coffee

Features

Hawaiian Coffee specializes in light roast beans grown in the fertile volcanic soils of Hawaii. With a unique flavor profile characterized by floral and fruity notes, this brand provides a taste of the islands with a smooth and clean finish.

Pros

  • Unique flavor profile
  • Floral and fruity notes

Cons

  • Limited availability

Rise & Shine - Out of the Grey Coffee

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4.8 out of 5 • Buy it for $17 at Out of the Grey Coffee • Price last checked Jun 01, 2023

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4.8 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Out of the Grey Coffee • Price last checked Jun 01, 2023

Rise & Shine - Out of the Grey CoffeeRise & Shine - Out of the Grey Coffee

Features

Out of the Grey offers a range of light roast coffees carefully crafted for discerning palates. Their beans are sourced globally and roasted to perfection, resulting in a complex and nuanced flavor profile with hints of chocolate, berries, and spices.

Pros

  • Crafted for discerning palates
  • Complex and nuanced flavor
  • Global bean sourcing
  • Hints of chocolate, berries, and spices.

Cons

  • Limited distribution

Bolivia Caranavi Coffee

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4.4 out of 5 • Buy it for $24 at Volcanica • Price last checked May 02, 2024

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4.4 out of 5 • No price available, check stock on Volcanica • Price last checked May 02, 2024

Bolivia Caranavi CoffeeBolivia Caranavi Coffee

Features

The Bolivia Caranavi Coffee is a unique, flavorful, and fascinating coffee. From the Andes Mountains of Bolivia at high altitudes of 1600-1700m above sea level, this particular coffee is grown on various farms in the region. These farms are part of the APCERL (Asociación de Productores de Café Ecológico Regional de Larecaja), which is a coffee collective board that works to ensure positive social responsibilities related to safe, eco-friendly, and fair trade growing practices directly related to the crops being produced. This coffee has profoundly rich aromas and flavors that any coffee lover would enjoy and is proudly 100% Arabica Typica Coffee. It received the APCERL (Asociación de Productores de Café Ecológico Regional de Larecaja) and 100% Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Pros

  • Sweet-toned and soft aroma
  • Very pronounced sweet cocoa tones
  • Outstanding flavor that is long, sweet and cocoa-laced
  • Kosher Certified
  • Fresh roasted then immediately packed and sealed to assure freshness

Cons

The Roasting Process

To understand why a light roast is so different from other types, you need to understand the relationship between roasting and growing. 

Every type of roast comes from an unroasted — often called green — coffee bean. Coffee farmers extract the green bean from the coffee fruit, which is a small fruit that resembles a cherry and grows on trees. At this point, the raw coffee bean has a green color and cacophony of flavors that are unique to the farm’s nutrients, pesticide-use, and soil and water health.

Green beans can be soaked like tea, but they cannot be brewed like roasted coffee. At this step, someone has to cook, or roast, the bean to make it brewable. Coffee farms sell their beans to roasters, who create different flavors based on how long and hot the beans are cooked. 

When brewed as a light roast — or as close to a raw, green bean as acceptable — the cup of coffee has a different flavor and more healthy antioxidants and nutrients. This is because many of nutrients grown into the bean on the farm are not roasted out of it, which happens with darker roasts. If you would like to learn more about the roasting process, read our article : Coffee Roasting Best Practices for Beginners.

On the other side of the light-to-dark roast spectrum, darker roasts also cook out some but not all of the caffeine. 

Flavor and Aroma

But how does a light roast impact the drink that hits my tongue? Simply put, more than you might think.

Light roast coffee typically has more citrus acidity, honey sweetness, and floral aromatics. And while it’s a small difference in your cup of java, there is a difference between dark roast bitter and light roast acidic flavors. In all, many light roast drinkers gravitate to the unique complexity found that can vary from farm and roaster.

Light roasts in chain coffee shops are uncommon if not rare. Starbucks, as a classic example, only sells burnt, dark beans. So when you buy a lighter Starbucks or coffee chain roast, you’re getting a lighter dark roast.  

So if you’re tasting your first cup of light roast coffee, you may notice that it doesn’t need much to go down smooth. You don’t need the typical creamer, sugar, and syrups that support the chain coffee scene by counterbalancing bitter, dark coffee. 

What Type of Brewing is Best with Light Roasted Coffee Beans?

Light roast coffee beans are known for their delicate flavors and bright acidity. To complement these characteristics, here are some coffee drinks that work well with light roast coffee beans:

  1. Pour-Over: A classic pour-over method allows you to fully experience the nuanced flavors of light roast coffee. The slow extraction process brings out the brightness and floral notes.
  2. Drip Coffee: Brewing light roast coffee through a drip coffee maker can produce a clean and balanced cup. Adjust the coffee-to-water ratio to your preference and enjoy the subtle flavors.
  3. Americano: An Americano is made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso. Using light roast espresso shots creates a milder and more vibrant Americano, allowing the coffee's flavors to shine through.
  4. Cold Brew: Cold brew is a method of steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period. Light roast coffee can produce a refreshing and smooth cold brew with fruity and floral undertones.
  5. Iced Coffee: Iced coffee is made by brewing coffee using any preferred method and then pouring it over ice. Light roast coffee with its bright and crisp flavors can create a refreshing iced coffee experience.

When brewing your own coffee, most people only consider the water-to-coffee ratio. This works well enough, but there are more factors to consider when extracting flavor from coffee. Don’t forget: 

  • Grind size
  • Water temperature
  • Agitation
  • Brewing time
  • Water quality

Understand these aspects of your brew, and you’ll have all the tools you need to begin experimenting with light roast coffees to find your best light roast coffee.

Conclusion

If you’re first wading into the waters of light roast coffee, I recommend you take it slow. Find a specialty coffee shop with some good baristas and ask them for recommendations. Maybe try a few to get a good sense of what light roasts are all about.

But if you’re in deep and trying to find the best light roast coffee, check out some of the brands we listed. You won’t be disappointed!1

Meet the expert

Scott's tasted his first cup of coffee in college. The sludgy cup came from the gas station closest to his apartment when he needed to stay awake during an all-night study session. Thankfully, this cup was not his last. He and his wife now enjoy a cup or two of home-brewed coffee with breakfast every morning and enjoy exploring new coffee shops and eateries. As a former journalist, he works as a communication manager for a local, art-focused nonprofit in Arizona most days and freelances the rest. As a writer at heart, Scott appreciates the union of his craft and love of coffee at Roast Love.

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