In recent years, there have been a lot more in the world of coffee than simply dark roast.
Now we have light, medium, and dark; it can be hard to determine which is the best option out there on the shelves. If you have been confused by all the different roasts of coffee available, you're not alone.
Back in the day, it used to be that dark roast was the only way to go; especially if you are a seasoned coffee drinker.
The light roast was considered to be weaker, and for those who don't like the true taste of the coffee. Misinformation was all around, in addition to terrible tasting coffee.
However, recent years have shown to have many more options available, especially with specialty coffee. Now light roasts are gaining increased popularity.
You may be asking what has changed, and why.
To be honest, a lot has changed; and the purpose of this article is to break it down for you.
We will show you:
- Why light roasts coffee is tasting better and getting more popular
- The major differences between specialty roasts
- Why you don't want to buy french roast coffee ever again
First, let's bust some myths about coffee and set some things straight. After, you will have all the information that you need in order to pick the perfect roast for yourself.
Why Coffee Roast Levels are Evolving
Unlike some other products, there really isn't a standard across the board as relates to coffee roast.
For instance, if you go buy two light roast coffees from different brands, they can taste completely different and one may actually be a darker roast. This can be quite confusing, we know.
But here is an explanation as to why this is the case currently:
- The coffee bean quality is increasing lately. This means that coffee farmers are honing their craft; this makes higher-quality coffee that is better tasting easier than ever to find.
- Roasters are no longer hiding bad flavors from their coffee. In the past, dark roast coffee was made to hide low-quality flavors. Because the quality of coffee is increasing, this is no longer necessary.
- There are more complex flavors and tones in light roast coffee. Because roasters are able to roast lighter coffee that actually tastes good, they are finding out new ways to highlight the unique flavors in your coffee.
And this means that the scale of your coffee roasts can move to a lighter flavor, while the taste is improving.
Although it can be confusing, this is good for avid coffee drinkers, as it means that the taste of coffee is constantly improving!
Which Has the Most Caffeine?
Growing up, my parents always chose a darker roast because it has more caffeine (meaning more energy per cup). We have come to realize that this is not actually the case.
The interesting fact is a cup of both light and dark roast coffee has the same amount of caffeine. However, like most myths, this does have a valid origin.
Light roast beans are not as dense as dark roast beans so each bean does have a little more caffeine content; while dark roasts are not as dense, meaning each bean will have a little less caffeine content.
This is why it is important to not measure out your coffee by the number of scoops; instead, the measure by weight.
Because one scoop of light beans will have roughly 70 MG of caffeine, compared to one scoop of dark beans which has roughly 65 MG. This means that it has to do with the weight, and not the coffee beans themselves
Light Roast Coffee
Light roast coffee will be lighter in color as opposed to the other two types and has no oil that is found on the surface of the beans.
It will have a lower acid content that can be described as crisp, with a smooth body and full of flavor. They are roasted in a way to preserve the integrity of the bean.
If the beans were grown, processed, and roasted correctly then they will have a wide variety of flavors, aromas, and mouth taste.
Because light roasting is able to allow for more of a vibrant and unique flavor, it is the favored roast in the specialty coffee industry.
More than with any other type of roast, you are able to really get a feel for the unique origins of light roast coffee.
Because light roast coffee will only reach a temperature of between 350-400 degrees, the vapors inside the bean do not seep out.
Medium Roast Coffee
Medium roast coffee will be a darker brown than a light roast and generally will not have any oil on the surface.
They are well-rounded flavor-wise and have a medium acid content and body.
Like with light roast coffee, this level of roast preserves the unique characteristics of the coffee's origin.
However, you will notice that it starts to reach into the caramel-like sweetness of a longer roast. These coffees tend to be darker and sweeter while maintaining a good balance overall.
Some of the brighter characteristics of the light roast may not be apparent here, although for the extra balance it's a good give and takes.
These are loved by specialty coffee roasters as they are more palatable to the general coffee drinker; as they are less acidic and more mellow.
Medium roasts will reach temperatures of around 400-430 degrees.
Dark Roast Coffee
Dark brown in color with an oily surface, this coffee roast has the lowest acid content of the three with a heavy body and deeper flavor.
Coffees of this roast level do not have a lot of the characteristics of their origin, although they still have a lot going for them.
They still make great choices for any coffee drink, as they have a mellow chocolate and caramel flavor.
There really is a night and day difference between light and dark roast coffee, and I recommend trying both side-by-side in order to fully experience this.
There are not a lot of taste or texture changes between brands of dark roast coffee.
Because of this, specialty coffee roasters will only have a couple of dark roast offerings. In the past, dark roast coffee was considered to be the only one worth drinking by coffee connoisseurs, simply because medium and light roasts just weren't as good as they are now.
By roasting the coffee longer (making a dark roast), you were able to hide the negative undertones of the coffee; however, this is no longer necessary.
The goal now for specialty coffee roasters is to achieve a deeper and darker pleasant tone for lighter coffees, instead of changing them into a dark roast.
Dark roast coffees will reach a temperature of between 430-450 degrees and achieve a second crack.
Other Coffee Roast Levels
There are more roasts available for consumption that simply dark, medium, or light.
For instance, we have Italian roast, continental roast, espresso roast, french roast; and so on. These coffees mentioned are about as black as you can get with coffee and tend to have a lot of natural oil on the surface.
These types of coffees will have no real origin taste and are more on the burned side. Specialty roasters will never roast their coffee to this level, as they consider it to be a waste of perfectly good coffee.
We don't recommend buying beans that are ever this dark.