Light Roast Coffee Beans: Which Brands Are Best?

If you’re in a bit of a rush and don’t have time to read the entire article, then we recommend Kicking Horse Coffee Hola as the best light roast coffee beans.

So you may have tried some darker roasts and came to the conclusion that coffee isn’t for you. Until you decided to give lighter roasts a go, seeing as though they aren’t as strong and will satisfy those sweeter taste buds.

But you need to know which ones are the best. Picking a light roast coffee out of all the 100s out there can be difficult. So we’ve narrowed it down to the top 5 for you.

We’ll cover why light roasts are the way they are, what characterises light roasts, and what to consider when choosing which one is right for you.

Here are the light roast coffee beans we’ll be looking at:

coffee beans on glass table

What Is A Light Roast Coffee?

A light roasted coffee is pretty much what it says on the tin. They’re coffee beans that haven’t been roasted very long, and so only take on that light brown colour. There are a huge amount of variations in a light roast, which depends on where the coffee was grown, at what altitudes and the nutrients in the soil.

There are 2 stages in the coffee roasting cycle, what we call ‘first crack’ and ‘second crack’. A ‘crack’ is where the moisture inside the coffee bean has started to evaporate, and therefore builds up a pressure. The coffee beans crack open for the vapour to escape. A light roast is taken out of the roasting process as soon as that first crack happens, at the earliest.

The Characteristics Of Light Roasts

If you like those sweeter notes in your coffee then you’re probably going to enjoy drinking light roasts. They’re ideal for people that have tried dark or medium roasts and found them too bitter, or too strong, but still want to drink coffee.

Light roasts are very aromatic, having a strong fruity smell when first opening the bag. Their after tastes aren’t strong unlike a dark roast.

The light roasting process is trying to keep in all of those flavours that are unique to the bean because of the soil that it has grown in. The oils in the coffee bean don’t come to the surface, instead they’re kept inside the bean, meaning they have floral, berry, fruity and grassy flavours, tasting fresh and citrusy.

They’re easy drinking and full of flavours that aren’t going to make you scrunch up your face if you don’t like a strong and bitter taste.

Caffeine Content

Alright, it’s time to debunk this myth. If you’re like me and think that caffeine is burnt off during the roasting process, which is why dark roasts have less caffeine than light roasts, then like me, you’re wrong too.

As it happens, caffeine is extremely stable during the roasting process. It barely changes.

If you take a dark roasted bean and a light roasted bean side by side, then they would contain roughly the same amount of caffeine. It all depends on how you measure your coffee.

For example, if you measure your coffee by scoops, then the light roast scoop is going to contain more caffeine as it’s denser. But if you’re going to measure your coffee by mass, then you’re going to get more dark roasted coffee beans for the same weight, and therefore more caffeine in the darker roast pile.

So the bottom line is, despite what most people think, the caffeine content isn’t noticeably different for each roast. It just depends on how you measure your beans, as to which roast has the most amount of caffeine.

It’s a little confusing, so he’s a video that might make it easier to understand!

How To Find The Right Light Roast For You

Alright, so everyone has different taste buds, you might like a floral flavour in your coffee, and I might prefer a berry flavour. It depends on each individual as to which flavours are best.

But flavours aren’t the only thing you should be looking at when choosing your coffee brands. These are some things to consider.

Brand

Choosing the best coffee brand is difficult because there is so much choice. We’re going to be reviewing some of the brands that are most trustworthy, that won’t disappoint you on the quality.

Having a brand that you can trust lets you enjoy your coffee even more, as you know exactly where it’s come from and that it’s high quality and that they’re not screwing some poor farmers over in South America.

What you might want to consider though, is whether the brands are organic, Fair Trade Certified or sustainably sourced. These will affect long term health and whether future generations will be able to enjoy coffee like we do today. It also means that they’re not screwing some poor farmer over in South America to get a cheap price on their beans. Certainly something to keep in mind.

Freshness

The fresher the roast, the better quality the coffee. It’s good to know when your coffee was roasted. Some brands put the roast date on the bag, which lets you know that the bag hasn’t been sitting on a shelf for a month before you got it. Some brands even roast to order, but that’s normally small family businesses. 3 weeks is normally how long beans last post roast, before their quality and flavour start to drop. 

What most brands do is roast their beans in small batches, that keep up with the rate that they’re shipping. For the best ground coffee, ideally you’re going to want to be grinding the beans from home. If not, thats not a problem as the ground coffee is sealed to keep the air out. Once you open the bag though, you’re going to want to make sure you squeeze out all that air once you have your coffee ground, to preserve the quality.

Origin

If you’re wanting to experience the different tastes of regions throughout the world, then you should know where you’re getting your coffee from. More so for those coffee connoisseurs out there, you’re going to be wanting ‘single origin’ and not a blend, then you know all the coffee beans in your bag are from the same place.

If it’s not such a big deal for you to try coffee from specific places around the world, and you just want a nice brew, then it doesn’t matter too much. You can go for a blend or a single origin, you’ll just have to pay attention to the flavours.

freshly brewed coffee with creme

The Best Light Roast Coffee – Our Reviews

So we’ve told you what to look for when choosing a light roast coffee bean, now lets look at some tasty roasts.

New England Donut Shop Blend

best light roasted coffee beans
Key features:

  • Very light roast
  • Smooth and mellow
  • 100% Arabica
  • Sweet blueberry flavour
  • Sustainably driven brand
  • Coffee beans from Africa/Central and South America

Starting off with New England Coffees super light roast. Ideal for you if you’re not a big coffee person but wanting to explore different coffee roasts and see what you like. They use only Arabica beans, which are widely considered the best out of the two (other being Robusta beans), due to its sweetness and softer tones.

The beans are small batch roasted so that the freshness is kept to a high quality. They’re also low in acid which is good for those that have a sensitive stomach to coffee.

When you open the bag you’re greeted with an amazing smell like someone has just finished baking blueberry muffins and is brewing a coffee. Considering how aromatic the smell is, you would expect the flavour to be very strong, but its not. It has a medium-light body and is not overpoweringly floral.

There’s really not much negative to say about this coffee. Some people say it’s a bit weak, but personally I think that all comes down to how you brew your coffee.

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Caribou Coffee Daybreak Morning Blend

best light roast coffee beans
Key features:

  • Very smooth
  • 100% Arabica
  • Fruity sweetness
  • Floral overtones, caramel and nut finish
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified for sustainability
  • Blend from The Americas and East Africa

Another beautifully sweet light roast that’s a perfect match for your breakfast. You can taste the initial cherry overtones with that nutty caramel finish afterwards. Even fans of dark roast coffee will be able to appreciate the flavours coming from this light roast.

I think it’s important that you know the type of brand that you’re supporting. Not only do Caribou ensure that every bean they pick is sustainably sourced, not just for the environment, but also socially. They pay fair prices for their coffee so the farmers can keep producing coffee beans like they have been for many years. While you’re sipping on your coffee, you can do so guilt free, knowing that every person that these beans have passed has been looked after.

Again, these beans are small batch roasted to ensure you get a fresh bag. Repeat buyers report receiving consistent coffee beans on freshness, grind and roast quality. A solid coffee to start your day, and a brand that’s easy to get behind.

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Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC 

best light roast coffee beans
Key features:

  • 100% Arabica coffee
  • Lemon, peach and black tea
  • Smooth and full-bodied
  • Single Origin from Mbeya region, Tanzania
  • Sustainably sourced

Grown on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, this single origin coffee ground will leave you wanting a second cup. It’s a smooth coffee, very well roasted, and no noticeable bitterness.

They’re responsible when it comes to picking the beans, as they only source from sustainable areas, and support regions all over the world that actively work to better their livelihood and the coffee industry. Because of this, they produce some very good coffee, which you notice.

These beans are characterised by notes of lemon, peach and black tea, and are defined by their fruity and lively flavour. Once again, this brand is consistent on freshness and roast quality.

If you do like your dark coffee, and are a fan of that bitter aftertaste or the deeper notes, then this coffee may not be to your liking.

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Peets Coffee Colombia Luminosa

best light roast coffee beans
Key features

  • Light and Sweet
  • Notes of passion flower and stonefruit
  • Sustainably sourced
  • Artisan roasted
  • Roasted to order
  • Single origin from Colombias Huila region

Peet’s coffee was the first to begin the American coffee revolution over 50 years ago. They’ve been in the game a long time, which means they’ve built a strong trust between them and the farmers that grow their beans. They’ll get the pick of the crop for the best coffee beans.

They claim to have 9 roasters that between them have an average of 13 years experience. They hand roast every single batch of coffee, so you can count on quality. That being said, most of the bad reviews about this coffee say that they received their bag out of date. However these reviews are few and far between.

The Luminosa is full of flavour. It’s aromatic with vanilla and fruity notes, has a full body with a smooth finish. If you’re wanting to use this coffee for French press, be warned that the grind is very fine, and so may not be ideal for this type of brewing method.

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Kicking Horse Coffee Hola

best light roast coffee beans
Key features:

  • 100% Arabica
  • Juicy red currant
  • Creamy honey body
  • Central and South American Origin
  • Organic and Fair Trade certified
  • Sustainably sourced

Firstly, I want to share how Kicking Horse describes this coffee… ‘Wild, spirited, awake. This blend knows how to dish up a warm welcome. It’s a hot tropical storm, sailing in off the sea.’. Now, I know this is marketing, but if that doesn’t want to make you try this coffee, I don’t know what will.

It’ll be certain to wake you up on a morning, with its brown sugar and cocoa powder aromatics wafting out of the kitchen and through the house while you’re brewing. It does smell delicious.

Yes, their coffee is flavourful and sweet with the berries and honey, but they are also pretty ethical. They’re organic certified, Fair Trade certified, and support the local communities that are helping the coffee industry reach its goal of becoming 100% sustainable from bean to cup.

A very tasty coffee, not too bitter, a little sweet, with a creamy body. Looks after the environment, produces organic coffee, treats the farmers it works with ethically and promotes sustainability. Definitely a brand worth getting behind.

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coffee beans spilling out our mug

 

Conclusion

Light roasts are without a doubt a great way to enjoy coffees on a morning if you’re not a fan of those stronger, darker coffees.

With everything considered, I would recommend getting the Kicking Horse Coffee Hola. A roast with flavours that are not overpowering, but strong enough so you can taste all of those flavours from berry to honey. They’re also doing good in the coffee community, meaning if you’re supporting Kicking Horse Coffee, you’re also supporting a sustainable and ethical coffee industry.

You can check out some of our coffee grinder reviews to up your at-home coffee quality. You can also have a look at some grind and brew coffee makers for an all in one machine.

Let us know which one you went for in the comments!

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Tom Bolland

Tom Bolland

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