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Light Roast vs Dark Roast Coffee: What’s The Difference?

Have you ever had a cup of coffee that you didn’t like?

Was it too bitter to finish? Did it upset your stomach?

This may be because it wasn’t the type of coffee you preferred.

Maybe you like light roast vs. dark roast and didn’t know there was a difference.

Not only are coffees light or dark, but there are also many varieties, including French, Breakfast, Espresso, and much more.

What do these labels mean? Are these coffees light or dark?

Keep reading to learn more about different types of coffee. 

The Difference between Light and Dark Roast 

The most significant difference between light and dark roast coffee is light roast coffee beans are roasted for a shorter period than dark roast coffee beans.

Light roast coffee beans are removed from the heat as soon as the beans begin to crack.

Due to the roasting differences, light and dark coffee beans have different compositions.

Light roast coffee beans are bright and have a more complex flavor than dark roast coffee beans.

In terms of caffeine, light roast coffee beans have more caffeine than dark roast coffee beans.

Most people are surprised to find out light roast coffee beans have more caffeine than dark roasts, but that’s because dark roast beans are roasted longer.

Heat destroys caffeine molecules, making them less caffeinated. 

All Coffee Beans are Harvested and Prepped the Same Way

All coffee beans start the same way, whether they’re destined to be a light roast or dark roast bean someday:

  1. Bright cherry coffee beans are picked at the peak of ripeness.
  2. The cherries are brought back to be inspected and sorted. During this process, the red covering of the beans is removed, and each bean is checked for quality.
  3. Any additional debris is removed from the coffee bean, and it is prepped for roasting. 

Light and Dark Roast Coffee Temperatures 

There are several coffee bean types between light and dark roast.

Here, we will go over the different types of roast and how the beans are roasted. 

Light Roast Coffee Beans 

Light roast coffee, often called cinnamon roasts or New England is the most caffeinated coffee bean.

These coffee beans have no oil on the bean’s surface.

Light roast coffee beans have been roasted until they reach an internal temperature of 355-400.

Light roast coffee beans are incredibly acidic, which could make your stomach upset if you’re prone to it. 

Medium Roast Coffee

One of America’s most popular coffee bean types is the medium roast bean.

Companies often refer to medium roast coffee beans as city roast, breakfast blend, and American.

Medium beans are a bit darker than light roast beans.

But, like, light roast beans, medium roast beans don’t have any oil on the bean.

As a result, medium roast coffee is a bit less caffeinated and a bit less acidic than low roast coffee beans.

Instead, the medium roast coffee beans have more aroma and sweetness than a light roast bean.

Overall, the flavor profile of medium roast beans is complete and balanced. 

Medium-Dark Roast Beans 

At around 430-450 degrees, coffee beans turn dark brown.

Usually, the beans will be in the beginning stages of their second crack.

These beans are referred to as medium-dark roast.

At higher temperatures, the coffee bean’s oils come to the surface.

This also reduces the amount of caffeine in the bean.

Generally, medium-dark coffee beans are sweet, smoky, heavy, not very acidic, and maybe even a little spicy.

This type of roast is often referred to as Vienna roast, after-dinner roast, or full city roast. 

Dark Roast Beans

Dark roast coffee beans are called French roast, Italian roast, or espresso.

During the roasting process, dark roast coffee beans reach over 450-degrees Fahrenheit.

At this temperature, the beans have usually completed their second crack.

Some coffee roasters will roast above 465-degrees Fahrenheit, but these must remove the beans before they hit 482-degrees Fahrenheit.

At 482-degrees, coffee beans will create a cup of coffee that is almost like tar because the beans have been charred.

In addition, the oil from the coffee bean appears at the surface, which makes the beans shiny.

At this point, almost all of the caffeine has been removed from the bean. 

Final Word

In conclusion, the type of coffee you like best depends on what kind of coffee bean roast you enjoy.

You’ll want a light roast if you drink coffee for the caffeine.

On the other hand, if you like the sweet smell of coffee and don’t care much about the caffeine, you’ll enjoy a dark roast.

Understanding the different types of coffee beans will help you get a cup of coffee you’ll enjoy every time you order. 

1 thought on “Light Roast vs Dark Roast Coffee: What’s The Difference?”

  1. For me personally, dark roast tastes burnt, and I would never use it for drip coffee. Perhaps if I loaded my coffee with cream and sugar, I might find dark roast OK, but I drink coffee black.


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