Best Light Roast Coffee Brands in 2023
Recent years have found light roast coffee beans growing in popularity. Rather than hiding behind the dark and toasted flavors and aromas of the roasting, light roasts let the beans’ natural characteristics shine through; no wonder the consumers are developing a taste for their bright acidity and mild body.
If you’re looking for great beans that showcase these characteristics, read on for our top picks for the best light roast coffee this year.
Paraideli Cup of Excellence 2022
LIMITED EDITION (pre-order now for late September shipment)
Not often can we tell you not to waste your time looking for beans that best suit your taste. This is it now. You CANNOT MISS the chance to try this limited edition of premium light-roast coffee. Coffee Bros. now offers a premium edition of Parainema variety beans at your doorstep.
They are also giving a 10% DISCOUNT for the Home Grounds readers – use code HGCOE at the end of your purchase and enjoy the Paraideli cup of excellence while you can.
Las Botijas Cup of Excellence 2022
LIMITED EDITION (pre-order now for late September shipment)
Second option form Coffee Bros. is another premium edition: Pacamara variety beans. Light-roast of rare premium green beans is a delicacy you cannot miss out on.
They are also giving a 10% DISCOUNT for the Home Grounds readers – use code HGCOE at the end of your purchase and enjoy Coffee Bros. Las Botijas cup of excellence while you can.
The 7 Best Light Roast Coffee Brands in 2023
First off, what makes coffee light roast? Simple. The answer lies in the length of the roasting process. Light roasted coffee beans are roasted for a shorter period of time. But what makes light roasted coffee beans great for making real good coffee?
With their ability to showcase the nuances of a coffee’s flavor, light roasts have been growing in popularity. With so many on the market, from single acidic origins to mellow blends, it can be hard to choose the right one, so here are seven great options.
Note: This guide will focus on light roasted coffee only. For other great coffee beans read our guide to the best coffee beans here.
|Coffee Bros. Paraideli Cup of Excellence 2022||
||GET 10% OFF [code: HGCOE]|
|Coffee Bros. Las Botijas Cup of Excellence 2022||
||GET 10% OFF [code: HGCOE]|
|Lifeboost Coffee, Light Roast||
||CLICK FOR 50% OFF|
|Driftaway Coffee Colombia Antioquia and Burundi Kayanza||
||CLICK FOR BEST PRICE|
|Peet’s Coffee Costa Rica Aurora||
||CLICK FOR BEST PRICE|
|Dune Zip Zinger||
||CLICK FOR BEST PRICE|
|Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC, Ethiopian Sidamo Guji Coffee, Light Roast||
||SEE ON AMAZON|
A lighter roast means you taste more of the coffee bean itself, as opposed to the toasty and caramelized flavors of the roast. So it’s imperative that a light roast start with exceptional green coffee beans. One way for roasters to track down these incredible beans is to look at the winners of a growing region’s Cup of Excellence Awards. And that’s just what Coffee Bros did in sourcing their limited-edition coffees from Honduras.
Coffee Bros. Paraideli beans are of the Parainema variety, a prized Arabica hybrid. They are wet-processed for a crisper cup with bright flavors of lime, mandarin orange, and floral hibiscus. We suggest a pour over brewer like a Chemex to properly appreciate its complexity.
Paraideli coffee is available for pre-order now and Coffee Bros. will roast and ship it in late September/early October. It’s pricey because it’s rare, but as a Home Grounds reader, we’d like to offer you a special discount. Use the code HGCOE for 10% off!
The second premium bean from Coffee Bros. on our list is Las Botijas. Like Paraideli, these beans are a limited edition of light-roasted Honduran coffee beans. Also, they are of the Pacamara variety, naturally processed for a pronounced sweetness. Las Botijas has a surprisingly heavy body for a light roast, making it a prime candidate for a blonde espresso. It features flavors of red currant, rose, and stone fruit.
Both premium Coffee Bros. picks are available for pre-order now and will be roasted and shipped in late September/early October. They’re pricey because they’re rare. But, as mentioned above, Coffee Bros. is giving a special discount for Home Grounds readers.
Use the code HGCOE for 10% off!
Lifeboost Coffee was founded by nutrition expert Dr. Charles Livingston to deliver delicious coffee with a nutritional boost. He achieved this through a commitment to sourcing only the top quality coffee, with just 0.5% of beans grown worldwide, meeting their stringent standards.
This brand’s medium roast variant made it to Home Grounds’ list of the best medium roast coffee bean brands, and their light roast option is equally great. This organic light roast consists of quality arabica coffee beans from the mountains of Nicaragua. They’re organically grown in the shade of guava trees on a small plantation located at 5,700 feet on the slopes of Mt. Kilambe.
The beans are hand-picked, sun-dried, and washed in spring water to preserve the purity of the coffee throughout the process. As a result, they are third-party certified to be free from mycotoxins, potentially harmful toxins in low quantities in most coffee beans, notably lower quality ones.
The result is a bright coffee with a medium body that is low in acid for a light roast, making it exceptionally smooth and easy drinking.
The dominant flavor profile is nutty, with undercurrents of caramel sweetness. Vibrant aromas of vanilla and hazelnut accompany such features. It’s so good that we can’t help but call it our best light roast brand.
We’ve also reviewed Lifeboost coffee in one of our video reviews. Check it out here:
4. Driftaway Coffee Colombia Antioquia and Burundi Kayanza – Best for Cold Brew
Certifications: Kosher, Direct Trade
- Ground or whole bean: Ground
- Origins: Colombia and Burundi
- Varietals: Caturra, Colombia, Castillo & Bourbon
Driftaway has long been one of our favorite subscription services, known for its ethical sourcing and premium quality single-origin coffee. Recently, they’ve started offering cold brew blends, and to no one’s surprise, they’re just as impressive as their single-origin beans. The blends are available as individual bags or as a subscription.
This light roast cold brew blend has a bright flavor profile, with notes of vanilla, milk chocolate, and dried fruit. It combines two single-origin coffees, a washed coffee from Colombia and a natural coffee from Burundi, to deliver a perfectly balanced cup. The Colombian beans are powerfully fruity, while the Burundi beans contribute gentle sweetness and chocolate tones. The coffee arrives coarsely ground, perfect for slow steeping cold brew.
Transparency has always been a hallmark of the Driftaway brand. For each coffee, you can learn not only the producer’s story but also precisely how much Driftaway paid them per pound – and how that stacks up against Fair Trade requirements. In the case of this blend, producers in both regions were paid well over Fair Trade prices. So you can enjoy your cold brew knowing you’re supporting a sustainable coffee industry.
A top-of-the-line coffee bean from Ethiopia usually comes with a price tag to match. Still, the Ethiopian Sidamo Guji coffee from Fresh Roasted Coffee is the rare exception, making it our pick for the best value light roast whole bean coffee this year.
The growers choose their beans carefully and sustainably, considering origin, flavor profile, and quality. Afterward, they roast the beans in a specialty Loring Smart Roaster, which offers enhanced roasting precision while cutting carbon emissions by up to 80%.
Guji is in the Oromia coffee-growing region of Southern Ethiopia. This region is said to produce some of the highest quality coffees in the country. It features a dry climate and acidic soil that grows coffee beans renowned for its remarkable fruity flavors.
Sidamo Guji coffee is dominated by fruity and wine-like flavor notes, featuring cherry and strawberry, and the use of natural processing further enhances this. Expect a medium body, bright acidity, and an excellent earthy finish.
Founded over 50 years ago in the San Francisco Bay area, Peet’s Coffee is renowned for its signature blends. They’ve put their decades of experience to good use in crafting perfectly balanced flavors designed to showcase each roast.
Rather than tone down the inherent brightness of a light roast, their Cost Rica Aurora blend puts it front and center.
The first step in creating any blend is quality sourcing, and Peet’s works directly with farmers to ensure they are getting the top specialty coffee beans. They have even pioneered a Farmer Assistance program, which assists farmers who have the potential to grow specialty coffee but lack the techniques needed to do so.
This both expands Peet’s supply of high-grade beans and provides economic assistance in coffee-growing regions.
The Costa Rican beans in this blend are the highest quality Strictly Hard Fancy grade, sourced from the mountains of Tarrazu and Naranjo. They offer notes of clean, sweet citrus reminiscent of a lemon bar.
The flavor is with the addition of Kenyan beans, which deliver the deep, silky flavors of molasses, brown sugar, and blackcurrant for which the region is known.
Dune Coffee Roasters is a small-batch roaster based in Santa Barbara, California, and they know good coffee. So much so, one of their employees placed third in the 2018 United States Barista Championship (5).
The Zip Zinger is their signature light roast breakfast blend coffee, which they adjust seasonally to ensure it features only the freshest. This light roast ground coffee’s current mix consists of Brazillian, Ethiopian, and Colombian beans. Combined with both washed and naturally processed beans, the blend achieves a perfect balance of bright acidity with rich, darker undertones, yielding an incredibly versatile brew — a great choice for adventurous coffee lovers.
With dominant tasting notes of stone fruit, caramel, and chocolate, this is the rare light roast that shines on its own and is equally delicious with the addition of milk or cream.
You might even like it as an unusual and tasty espresso, with the familiar chocolate notes enhanced by the bright acidity and mellow sweetness.
How to Find the Best Light Roast Coffee
There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right light roasted coffee. What makes a brand of light roast coffee the best? Well, the answer is it depends. Do you want beans from a single region source or a blend? Arabica coffee beans or Robusta beans? Do you prefer 100% Arabica beans? How important is an organic or fair trade certification? Don’t worry, our buyer’s guide is here to walk you through it all.
p.s. If you want to understand the how’s of roasting coffee and how roasting affects flavor, you might want to know how to roast green coffee beans and learn about light roast, medium roast and, dark roasts here.
The source region plays an important role to the quality and flavors of coffee beans. The climate, soil, growing conditions, and processing methods influence the flavors equally. This is particularly true of light roasts because, as compared with dark roast coffee, their flavors are less affected by the roasting process.
A bag of coffee beans can consist of all beans grown in the same area, known as single-origin, or of a mixture of beans from different regions, which is known as a blend. There are pros and cons to each style. In either case, if you have access to a good grinder, opt for the whole bean rather than pre-ground coffee. In this way, you can be sure you’re experiencing them as fresh as possible.
A great light roasted coffee is an excellent place to start if you’re interested in the flavors of a specific region.
In a blend, we use different beans to mellow out the overall flavor, making them more approachable and more consistent. In contrast, coffees from single regions are unique and exotic, showcasing the flavors and terroir of a specific area. Still, they can have sour notes or strong acidity that doesn’t appeal to every palate (1).
[Single origin coffee] flavour depicts its origin, possessing characteristics of that specific area where the particular coffee was grown.
Yet, if you’re looking for a light roast blend, they are often labeled as a breakfast blend.
There are two commercially grown coffee bean types around the world, Arabica and Robusta. When buying light-roasted coffee, you almost certainly want to seek out Arabica beans (2).
Long regarded as the higher-quality bean, Arabicas make up about three-quarters of current commercial crops. Their prized reputation stems from their more pronounced acidity and a sweeter, softer taste, with tasting notes of sugar, fruit, and berries, all of which is perfectly highlighted in light roast coffees (3).
Light roasts retain more of the flavours of the coffee bean and this profile can emphasise floral and citrus notes.
In comparison, Robusta beans have a harsher, grain-like taste, with a nutty finish. They remain popular, particularly in instant coffee, because they can thrive at lower elevations and are more resistant to pests and weather fluctuations. They also contain twice as much caffeine as Arabicas and have garnered some fans as a result.
The most enjoyable coffee for sale today is Arabica, which is particularly true for light roasts. For a selection of great Arabica beans, check out our list of best coffee beans.
That said, some producers experiment with higher quality Robustas. These offer their nuanced flavors that appeal to some tasters’ palates and make an excellent addition to Arabica-Robusta blends. Rich and dark roast Robustas will balance the fruity and acidic Arabica.
Shopping for the best light roast coffee by considering certifications is a socially conscious decision. Still, for light roast coffees, this is especially important as they draw the essence of their flavor from the coffee bean origin rather than the roasting process. Thus, the way coffee beans are grown, collected, and distributed is a determining factor in their quality and taste.
There are many certifications available to coffee beans these days, with different countries and special interest groups offering their own. So, it can be difficult for the consumer to determine the legitimacy of each.
Here are some of the most common certifications available and what they mean (4):
In the U.S., coffees are given the label USDA-certified Organic if they are grown in a way that supports biodiversity and enhances soil health by using only approved substances and organic farming methods. This is the kind of coffee that is good for the health and environment.
Fair Trade is another American certification that ensures that coffee production includes social, environmental, and economic standards that protect the health of people and the Planet. Coffee farmers receive a fair price, community development projects, and establish long term working relationships with buyers. Similar practices might be labeled “ethically sourced” or “direct trade”.
Read more about fair trade coffee here.
Kosher is a term used to describe food following the strict dietary standards of traditional Jewish law. Coffee naturally complies with Kosher standards, but a Kosher certification ensures that you are getting 100% coffee, with no additives or processing methods that might violate Kosher standards.
Coffees certified by the Rainforest Alliance take into account biodiversity conservation and community development, a combination that improves both environmental and socio-economic aspects of coffee growing regions.
Brewing light roasted beans is a great way to experience the inherent flavors of the coffee beans honestly. With their bright acidity and typical fruit and chocolate flavors, there’s a light roast out there to satisfy every coffee lover.
Our favorite this year is Coffee Bros. Las Botijas and Paraideli, made up of premium beans grown in Honduran mountains. We hope you’ll enjoy this real good coffee and experience some nice caffeine kick in the morning!
Blonde coffee is not the same as light roast. A blonde roast is a new term that refers to a roast that is lighter than the typical light roast, though unfortunately, some companies use the term interchangeably with a light roast.
Yes, light roast coffee is usually less bitter than dark roast coffee. However, the type of coffee bean and the method of preparation can also play a role in perceived bitterness and acidity of your drink. That said, light roast coffee beans are great for cold brew. These coffee beans are also great for pour over method but they are not quite ideal for French Press or espresso. If bitterness is a huge deal breaker, why not consider flavored coffee beans instead?
No, a light roast coffee is not inherently healthier than a dark roast. While some studies have claimed that light roasts have more antioxidants than dark roasts coffee, (7), others have shown that dark roast coffees are better for reducing body weight and restoring red blood cell vitamin E and glutathione concentrations (8). In either case, effects are small, so you’re better off drinking a cup of coffee with delicious taste, which boosts your mental health.
No, light roast coffee doesn’t have more caffeine than dark roasted coffee, though that is a common myth. The truth is that light roasted beans are simply denser. So if you measure by volume, rather than by weight, you will be brewing more coffee when you make a light roast, and thus getting more caffeine (9).
- Pipunic, A. (2015, September 14). Everything You Need To Know About SingleOrigin Coffees. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2015/09/everything-you-need-to-know-about-single-origin-coffee/
- Balwin, J. (2009, June 22). Arabica vs. Robusta: No Contest. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/06/arabica-vs-robusta-no-contest/19780/
- Riportella, K. (2019, October 9). How to Adjust Your Brewing Recipe for Coffee Roast Level. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/10/how-to-adjust-your-brewing-recipe-for-coffee-roast-level/
- Bradley, E. (2017, August 10). Coffee Certifications. Retrieved from https://freshcup.com/coffee-certifications/
- Forster, M. (2018, May 2). Kay Cheon’s Coffee Mastery. Retrieved from https://www.independent.com/2018/05/02/kay-cheons-coffee-mastery/
- What is Sugar Cane E. A. Decaf? (2017, August 30). Retrieved from https://speedwellcoffee.com/blogs/news/what-is-sugar-cane-e-a-decaf
- Bellomo, R. (2017, July 7). Why You Should Always Order Light Roast Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.delish.com/food-news/news/a54182/light-roast-coffee-health-benefits//
- Kotyczka C, Boettler U, Lang R, Stiebitz H, Bytof G, Lantz I, Hofmann T, Marko D, Somoza V. (2011, October). Dark roast coffee is more effective than light roast coffee in reducing body weight, and in restoring red blood cell vitamin E and glutathione concentrations in healthy volunteers. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21809439/
- Kicking Horse Coffee. (n.d.). Caffeine Myths: Dark Vs. Light. Retrieved from https://www.kickinghorsecoffee.com/caffeine-myths-dark-vs-light