Light Roast vs. Dark Roast Coffee (What’s the Difference?)

If you’re a coffee lover, you can easily and almost immediately tell two different cups of coffees apart. While someone who isn’t very fond of coffee can’t tell why one coffee tastes better than the other, a coffee lover can open an entire Encyclopedia on the subject.

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One of the primary factors that make two coffees different is the extent to which the coffee beans have been roasted. They could either be light roasted or dark roasted. Both the types vary significantly when it comes to how the coffee looks and tastes. Both of these coffee varieties have a distinctive set of characteristics altogether, which this blog post will get into.

Light Roast Coffee

Roasting coffee beans involves heating. Light roast coffee, as you can tell by the name, is heated less than its dark-roasted counterpart. It means that there will be more moisture and more of everything else – flavour, brightness, and richness. In short, when we talk about light roast coffee, a lot is going on in a single cup of light roast coffee.

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Light roast coffee is richer in flavour. It retains more of the original elements and flavour. To help you understand better, you can say the lighter the coffee roast, the more complex its flavour profile will be. Light roast coffee has multiple layers of flavours and feel. You’ll find every punch of flavour in it, from sweetness to tanginess of fruits to a distinct floral aroma. Light roast coffee has a lighter body since the coffee beans aren’t roasted much, and hence, no oil or caramelised sugars are produced.

Dark Roast Coffee

Unlike light roast coffee, dark roast coffee is exposed to heat for longer. There’s more evaporation of moisture, and the flavour is, therefore, more single-note rather than multilayered. As the coffee beans are left to roast for longer, the bright tones are lost. The original flavour of the coffee gets overshadowed by the roasted flavour. If the coffee beans are roasted ‘just right,’ the coffee will have rich and sweet taste profiles.

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Dark roast coffee is rich in texture and quite bold in taste. Since they’ve been exposed to heat for a relatively longer duration, they are oilier and taste toasty or bittersweet, and sometimes, of decadent chocolate.

Coffee Content in Light Roast vs. Dark Roast Coffee

One of the most common conceptions that people draw from the names is that light roast coffee is low in caffeine, whereas dark roast coffee contains more caffeine. Well, sorry to burst your bubble. That’s not how it is.

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Another common misconception is that since light roast coffee has been exposed to heat for a shorter duration and there’s been less evaporation, the coffee will feel lighter. In contrast, dark roast coffee has been roasted more, and hence, it’ll feel more saturated and strong. Well, this concept, too, is incorrect.

The caffeine content in both light roast and dark roast coffee is almost the same. A scoop of light roast coffee and dark roast coffee will have the same amount of caffeine. Caffeine is quite a stable compound and isn’t affected during the roasting process. If you want stronger coffee, dark roast coffee isn’t what you need – more scoops of any coffee will get you the fully-loaded dose of caffeine that you’re looking for!

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Roasting Process in Light Roast vs. Dark Roast Coffee

When coffee beans are roasted, they absorb heat. As they’re heated continuously, they’ll eventually crack and pop, resulting in them expanding. If the roasting is continued, the coffee beans will crack further. Light roast coffee is heated until the first crack, whereas the roasting continues further for dark roast coffee. As the coffee beans are heated more, they tend to become smaller in size and oilier in appearance as the released oil covers their surface. As a result, light roast coffee beans are larger in size and duller in appearance, whereas dark roast coffee beans are smaller and appear shiny.

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What Should You Choose?

If you like your coffee to have delicate flavours and a thinner body, light roast coffee is what you’ll like. However, if you like your coffee to have a denser body and bolder taste, dark roast coffee is what’ll suit your taste buds more.

So, which coffee are you making next?