Light Roast Vs. Dark Roast: Which Is the Best?

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False rumors continue to circulate about coffee. It seems that people have not stopped making false claims about the level of coffee roast. Misinformation and myths are widespread. It is usual for a common man to be confused by how rumors about coffee roast are being spread. Because what the common man hears is very difficult to verify. So one thing you spend money on regularly, what good is it to spend money based on myths?

Let’s get rid of the myths and straighten things out so that even the common man can get the right information.

A few years ago, dark roast coffee was the king of the coffee world. Dark roast coffee drinkers were considered experienced coffee drinkers. Light roast coffee was considered a lower version of coffee often drunk by people with a bland taste. But what was the reason? The reason has a historical background. 

Dark roast history

Since coffee has a background in Yemen and Ethiopia, it was exported from these countries to Europe and the rest of the world. Until the Suez Canal route was not open, the coffee beans had to travel a long way to reach Europe. During the journey, coffee cherry beans were exposed to sea breezes for a long time. The taste and smell of coffee cherry beans changed drastically after being stranded in shipping stores and seaports for so long. The foul smell that was embedded in the coffee beans was so unpleasant to human nature that coffee roasters used to fry coffee cherry beans a lot to get rid of this smell. This was the reason for the extreme dark roasting of the coffee cherry beans.

But you may be wondering what is the reason for extreme dark roasting coffee cherry beans now? Let me tell you.

When the Suez Canal opened, more fresh coffee beans began to arrive in Europe than ever before. So when the coffee beans were brewed in hotels, cafes, and restaurants with fresh coffee beans, these flavors were unfamiliar to the people of Europe. They refused to accept this coffee taste. After that, the coffee producers’ cherry beans used to keep the coffee cherry beans in stores for a long time to create the same old coffee bean smell inside them. And the roasters would roast it so dark that they would have the same old coffee beans flavor.

The too dark roasted coffee beans that you see today are reminiscent of those old days. Some curious coffee drinkers still like the same old taste, so they always prefer too dark roasted beans over lightly roasted beans.

But now, in the new world of coffee, things are very different. Dark roasted beans like night, are old-fashioned. The quality of coffee beans is on the rise. Farmers are getting better and better, which means it’s easier to find coffee beans with unusual flavors. Too dark roasts were made to hide low-quality flavors like leather and misty. But since coffee increases in quality, coffee production and transportation and trade problems are no longer what they used to be, so coffee roasters are looking for new ways to highlight the unique, wild flavors in too dark roasted beans.

Roasting: The most crucial part of the coffee cherry process 

Many people make their coffee at home but do not have complete knowledge about coffee because they are new to the field. So due to lack of information, they spoil their drink. If you ever have to make your coffee at home, you must have a thorough knowledge of roasting green coffee cherry beans so that you can truly enjoy your coffee.

There are many steps involved, from picking the coffee cherries from the tree to getting your cup; the most critical part of this process is roasting green coffee beans. If you are new to the coffee world, try to figure out how dark roasted and light roasted coffee cherry beans might work best for you. Maybe your mind wanders to some extent in this endeavor. But I want to make it easy for you to choose your coffee beans.

Why is roasting needed?

Two types of coffee are grown in different environments in different countries of the world. When they are roasted lightly or deeply on the same surface, the two coffees’ taste is different. In the coffee age, the method of processing, grinding, and distillation also affects the taste. But the level of roast gives you a baseline, from which class of roast you can get the flavor you are expecting.

Some coffee bean flavors differ significantly from other coffee beans because of the breed, area, climate, and how they are processed. But as these beans become more and more roasted, the beans’ flavors overpower their original flavors; even when they are roasted and browned, their authentic flavors disappear entirely. After roasting, the real taste of coffee beans depends on light, medium, and dark roasting.

Roasting is needed because the green beans of coffee cherries are so hard that if you try to grind them without frying, the blades of your grinder machine will break. After roasting, it becomes easier to grind the beans, and the wild taste of the beans is dominated by the chocolate flavor of the beans, which pleases the drinkers.

The roasting process is designed to roast the coffee so that it removes all the moisture inside the beans and paves the way for the inner note of flavor to come out. Roasting gives green coffee beans the taste of a “coffee” drink, and it plays a vital role in the flavor of every cup you drink. 

The smell of green coffee beans is fresh, and the taste is less. The roasting coffee process turns these raw beans into distinctive fragrant, flavorful, crunchy beans that we know as coffee.

To most people’s surprise, coffee beans are light green before roasting. When coffee beans are roasted, they absorb heat, which turns them brown, increasing their size by about 150%.

Before we talk about the different types of roasts, you need to know a few things about coffee beans themselves, significantly how their initial make-up changes through the roasting process. Raw coffee beans are green. And they smell like dust and grass, and the scent of green coffee beans has nothing to do with the smell of the finished coffee you drink in the cup. Green coffee beans are heavier than roasted beans because they do not lose their moisture by roasting.

As the coffee beans begin to absorb heat during the roasting process, they turn brown. Although beans from different regions contain different chemicals, their color is minimal when they are roasted. More or less brown color is a common feature between light, medium, and dark roast used to classify coffees.

Extreme dark roast coffee beans

The quality of coffee in the past was not good. Coffee roasters fry and darken coffee beans for 480 degrees Fahrenheit to convey low-grade coffee’s lower quality flavors to a deeper, more uniform, and more accessible flavor. Coffee roasted on these surfaces has no original properties. Most coffee tastes like you are drinking burnt coffee or charcoal.

Excessive dark roast coffee beans are like a dark black night, soaked in oil, and taste terrible. It’s a waste of excellent coffee flavor. We do not recommend that you ever buy such dark roasted beans, yes you can if you like the taste of tar. Experienced coffee roasters never fry their expensive, carefully selected beans to such an extent. It was an understandable way to deal with low-quality coffee in the past. Still, it is no longer needed because the order for roasting such a low-quality coffee will never be available for those who roast coffee.

Dark roast

Dark roasted coffee beans are usually flavored with tobacco, roasted nuts, graham crackers, and dark caramel chocolate and are slightly bitter than lightly roasted coffee beans. As the coffee beans are darkly roasted, they lose their original flavor, but it does not mean that they become uninteresting, but the process of roasting adds more flavors to them. Dark roosts are often bold and full of flavor, full of body and texture. 

Dark roasted coffee beans have an oily sheen on the surface, which usually appears in the cup. This taste will remind you of an old school dinner cup, or it tastes the same as your parents used to make in the drip machine at home. They are low in acid, combine well with beverages such as milk or cream. Their colors are dark brown and have a layer of oil on top of the beans. These coffee beans are roasted longer at higher temperatures than others. Beans lose more moisture, become less dense, and have a bitter/smoky taste.

Dark roasted coffee beans are kept in a roasting machine at 430-480 degrees Fahrenheit and usually reach the second crack. If they are fried above 480 degrees, they like tar and charcoal.

Light Roast:

Since there are many coffee bean types, it is not correct to classify coffee beans based on roast color alone. But if the same kind of coffee beans can be roasted at different levels, then the classification based on roasting is correct.

Especially in the coffee industry, lightly roasted beans are preferred because these coffee beans can give more dynamic and unique flavors. Light roast coffee has a light shade of brown and no oil on the surface. They are not kept in the roasting process for long, which makes them denser with the moisture and water inside. Light roast beans retain their original flavors and unique ingredients, reflecting the natural properties of coffee. Although lightly roasted coffee beans have a thinner body, they have multifaceted complexity with sweetness, fruity, tanginess, and flowery and are more inclined to taste like toasted grain or herbs and have apparent acidity even the most delicate floral scent. This flavor profile is described as “bright.” The aroma of lightly roasted coffee cherries is fresh and vibrant, and these beans are thin in size.

As a result, lightly roasted beans are a great reflection of their personal quality as well as the climate and fertility of the area where they are grown. That’s why experienced roasters choose light baking to measure the quality of the coffee. 

Lightly roasted coffee beans often reach an internal temperature of 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit during roasting. These beans barely reach the point we call “first crack,” a stage where the vapors inside the beans break out of the outer wall and make a “cracking” noise. Therefore, light roast beans usually mean a coffee bean that has not been roasted beyond the first crack.

Medium Roast:

Drinks made from medium roast beans also have a variety but more smooth flavors. A little long roasting adds caramel to the bean’s sugars, creating a delicious caramel or honey-like sweetness inside the beans. You can still taste the unique properties of each bean, but their herbal flavors fade.

A medium roast is a middle ground between a light roast and a dark roast coffee. Many coffee lovers enjoy it as it provides the perfect balance of acidity, flavor, sweetness, aroma, etc.

Medium roast coffee is brown and slightly darker than light roast. And oil starts to appear on its surface but does not appear ultimately.

Roasters roast coffee beans in a medium-sized roast at an internal temperature between 410 and 428 Fahrenheit just after the first crack and the beginning of the second crack. Some coffee roasters roast coffee beans in medium roast at 437 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the taste and aroma of the frying process in beans becomes noticeable, and coffee’s flavor becomes somewhat spicy.

Name of different roasts:

  1. French roast
  2. Italian roast
  3. Spanish roast
  4. Cinnamon
  5. Light city
  6. Half city
  7. Chocolate roast
  8. Bright stone fruit roast
  9. Regular roast
  10. American roast
  11. City Roast
  12. Full City roasts
  13. Espresso Roast
  14. Continental Roast
  15. New Orleans Roast
  16. Vienna roast
  17. After Dinner Roast
  18. New England Roast

Caffeine difference between light roast and dark roast

Coffee beans are roasted at different degrees to produce specific flavors, but whether this process affects caffeine levels or not is a question that arises in every caffeine drinker’s mind.

I always grew up hearing that dark roast is quite “strong” and has the most caffeine in it. Most of these things are just speculation and misinformation.

Dark roast and light roast coffee have significant caffeine levels. Restlessness, jitters, increased alertness, and other possible effects all depend on the caffeine we ingest. It was thought that dark roast coffee beans contained more caffeine than lightly roasted beans. However, this is not the case. Roasting reduces the density of coffee beans, but not the caffeine content.

Suppose you want to understand the difference in caffeine levels or the closest similarity to caffeine levels more accurately. In that case, you first need to understand that coffee beans themselves, before roasting, may contain different caffeine content. For example, the two most common coffee beans, “Arabica and Robusta,” have a caffeine content of 1.5% and 2.4%, respectively.

Changes in caffeine levels are caused by changes in the beans’ density and size after the roasting process is over. 

Let me explain to you my experience.

I poured green beans of the same type of coffee into two separate pots of the same measurement quantity. Then, one pot of the coffee beans was brought to the classical light roasting machine, while the other pot of the beans was brought to the dark roasting machine. I roasted the coffee beans of both pots.

Now I have two separate quantities of light roasted and dark roasted coffee beans, but these quantities are of volume. Now I grind both quantities in different grinders and put both in separate pots. Now I prepared two coffee drinks from both the crushed coffee beans in two individual pots, using the same water amount. And both drinks were sent to the laboratory for testing. When the results came out, I found that light-roasted coffee beans contained 58% more caffeine than dark-roasted coffee beans. 

So what does it mean? We should prepare our drink with light beans to get more caffeine! Right? Rong! Because weight is not everything.

Let me explain my experience in another way. 

I took twenty grams of lightly roasted and twenty grams of dark roasted coffee beans and put them in separate pots.

And when I count the beans in both pots, there are 130 beans in the pot of lightly roasted beans and 135 beans in the pot of dark roasted beans. The difference between the beans of the two pots is only five beans. If there is a difference of 5 grams between twenty grams of beans on both sides, what is the difference between one pound of beans on both sides?

According to a conservative estimate, there is a difference of 92 beans in one pound of beans on both light roasted and dark roasted sides. In comparison, the dark roast has won the count.

So, what does that mean? You should only buy dark roasted beans as dark roasted beans weigh more on the scales if weighed! Right?

No, because the volume is not everything. During the roasting process, a bean loses its mass, its density changes. Beans that are more roasted are less dense. That’s why you get more dark roasted beans when you weigh them. When green coffee beans are roasted, the beans lose about 89% of their water content.

If you measure your coffee by scoops, you will find more caffeine in lightly roasted coffee beans. This is because lightly roasted beans have more content than dark roasted beans. And the lightly roasted beans in the scopes will climb more. And since dark roasted beans are more in volume, although they have less content, they are thick and puffy, so they will climb less on the scoops.

If you weigh and compare both types of beans, dark roasted beans will weigh more than lightly roasted beans instead of scoops. 

Bottom Line:

The bottom line is that if you prepare your drink by weighing light and dark roasted beans equally, you will find more caffeine in the beverage made from dark roasted beans. And if you prepare a drink with equal scoops of both light roasted and dark roasted beans, you will have more caffeine in the beverage made from lightly roasted beans. And when dark roasted and lightly roasted beans are ground into flour, the caffeine ratio difference on both sides is reduced but remains.

So if you measure coffee beans by volume, i.e., in a pot, the caffeine will be higher in lightly roasted beans. And if you weigh coffee beans, caffeine will be higher in dark roasted coffee beans. The conclusion is that where there are more beans, there will be more caffeine.

In addition to weight and volume, the actual size of the ground also affects the caffeine content. It has been determined that the best time to grind many roasted beans is 40 seconds. This produces the maximum amount of caffeine, as the caffeine content increases during the first 10 to 40 seconds. If more than 40 seconds is made, it does not increase the caffeine content further.

If your goal is to drink caffeine, then here is a way to get the most out of your caffeine. Whether you buy roasted coffee beans or their powdered flour, always buy by weight and not by volume, i.e., in scoops. And when you prepare your drink, always prepare it with scoops.

So when you prepare your drink with scoops, I would like to give you the final word that a scoop of lightly roasted bean powder will have more caffeine than a coffee drink made by a scoop of dark roasted bean powder. More you should note that the caffeine content varies from brand to brand and even product to product.

The difference between light and dark roast coffee is quite dramatic. In simpler terms, the difference between lightly roasted coffee cherry beans and dark roasted coffee cherry beans is only how long the beans have been roasted. When it reaches the place, the heat comes out by making a hole in the beans’ size. It makes a sound, and it is called the first crack. After the first crack, the beans are roasted according to the time of roasting. They are called light, medium, dark, and extreme dark roasts.

All of these flavors and aromas are closely related to your choice. You may prefer a light roast in the morning and a dark color after the day. The level of roast in coffee beans is your personal preference. I suggest you use every type of roasted coffee bean to brew coffee in different pots and find out what you like. But don’t assume that you only have to choose one type of coffee bean. You can also select different coffee beans for your other drinking times. But, whether you prefer dark or light, you best buy your beans whole.

Light roast vs. dark roast FAQs

Is a light roast healthier than a dark roast? 

Coffee is a tasty drink, and it is also a beverage whose every cup gives numerous benefits to your body and mind. Although It has been proven that light roast beans have more antioxidants than dark roast coffee, however, this difference is not so significant.

Which coffee beans have more caffeine: light roast vs. dark roast?

People have their own different opinions about this. Some people think that dark roast beans contain more caffeine than light roast beans. Others have the opposite view.

But this is a common misconception. According to my personal experience, if both types of beans are weighed equally, the dark roasted beans will have more caffeine, and if the beans on both sides will be taken in equal volume, then the lightly roasted beans will have more caffeine. Caffeine levels are also affected by the type of coffee cherry tree from which the coffee beans are picked.

Which coffee is more robust: light roast vs. dark roast? 

Coffee drinkers appreciate the “power” of coffee in several different ways, including flavor, bitterness, and caffeine content. If you compare the flavors, the dark roasted coffee bean drink has a darker and bolder taste than the lightly roasted coffee bean drink and more bitterness. 

When compared to caffeine, lightly roasted coffee beans are stronger. This is because most people, when preparing their coffee drink, take the coffee beans or their powder by volume, i.e., by scoops rather than by weight. So when you make your drink with coffee cherry beans or their powder by the scoops, the drink prepared by lightly roasted coffee bean will have more caffeine.

Is a dark roast more bitter than a light roast? 

Coffee made from lightly roasted beans is usually less bitter than coffee made from dark roasted beans. Some factors can affect the bitterness of a prepared coffee cup, including the method of preparation of the coffee drink, time, temperature, quality of beans, water-to-coffee ratio, grinding size, and cleaning of drinking equipment. All of these things can make your coffee more delicious and even more bitter than you like.

What is the taste difference: light roast vs. dark roast?

The flavors of drinks made from light roast beans and dark roast beans are very different. The personal taste and preference of people play a significant role when choosing between coffees. Light roasts have more distinct flavors, while dark roasts have less but more robust flavors. Even a light roast batch made by one roaster machine may have a different taste than a light roast batch made by another roast. Be sure to try coffee beans from different areas. Roast these beans on different levels before making your final decision; you will be pleasantly surprised.

If you compare light roasted and dark roasted beans from different regions, lightly roasted coffee beans will retain more flavor than dark roasted coffee beans. Of course, the taste will also depend on the method of preparation.

Which has more acidity: light roast vs. dark roast?

Coffee acidity is influenced by several factors, including the type of trees from which the beans are picked and the area’s soil and climate. However, if beans are grown in the same area, and climate and beans from the same species are roasted, lightly roasted coffee beans are more acidic than deeply roasted beans.

What is the color difference between dark roast and light roast?

The most common way to describe a coffee roast’s surface is bean color, which includes light brown and dark brown. As coffee beans absorb heat during the roasting process, their color darkens. The oil appears on the surface of the beans at high temperatures. Since there are different types of coffee beans, it is not the right way to classify coffee based on the roast’s color alone. But the typical shade of brown that is obtained by combining the temperature of the coffee beans, in general, shows the degree of frying on these coffee beans.

What is the difference in heating time between dark medium and dark roast?

Coffee roasters roast light-roast coffee beans at 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They roast medium roasted coffee beans at 401 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. And they roast dark roasted coffee beans at 451 to 480 degrees Fahrenheit. If coffee beans are roasted over 480 degrees Fahrenheit, they are over-roasted beans and taste like burnt or charcoal.

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