What’s the Difference between Light and Dark Roast Coffee?

I get asked a lot by customers. I am asked whether light is better than dark, and they want something with lots of caffeine. There are many different coffee varieties. Coffee enthusiasts often encounter the terms “light roast” and “dark roast”. Flavor, aroma, and overall character of the brew can be impacted by the degree which coffee beans have been roasted.

Light roasts are typically roasted between 350°F–400°F (177°C–204°C) for around 10 minutes or less.


Here are the key attributes of light roast coffee:

Light brown color and a delicate, milder flavor profile are found when choosing light roasted beans.

Higher Caffeine Content: Contrary to popular belief, light roast coffee generally contains slightly more caffeine than its darker counterparts. The lighter roast preserves the caffeine content of the beans to a greater extent.

Light Body: Light roast coffee tends to have a lighter body, meaning it feels lighter on the palate. This characteristic allows the flavors to be more nuanced and delicate, offering a subtle and nuanced drinking experience.

Bright and Acidity: Light roast coffee typically exhibits a higher level of acidity, which lends it a vibrant and crisp flavor. The acidity is often described as tangy or citrusy, providing a pleasant brightness to the cup.

Retained Origin Characteristics: Light roasting allows the unique characteristics of the coffee beans to shine through. You can experience the distinct flavors and aromas specific to the coffee’s origin, such as floral, fruity, or tea-like notes.

Here’s what sets dark roast coffee apart.

Dark roast coffee is known for its deep brown to almost black color and bold, robust flavor profile.

Fuller Body: Dark roast coffee boasts a fuller body, offering a richer and more substantial mouthfeel. The oils released during the longer roasting process contribute to its thick and velvety texture.

Muted Origin Characteristics: The prolonged roasting of dark roast coffee tends to overshadow the unique characteristics of the coffee beans’ origin. While the flavors become more robust, they may lose some of the subtle nuances specific to their origin.

Bold and Smoky Flavor: Dark roast coffee exhibits a strong, intense flavor profile with pronounced bitterness. It often features notes of dark chocolate, caramel, and even smoky or charred undertones, resulting from the extended roasting process.

Reduced Acidity: Dark roast coffee has lower acidity compared to light roast. The extended roasting time diminishes the coffee’s acidity, resulting in a smoother and less tangy taste.

The choice between light and dark roast coffee ultimately comes down to personal preference. Dark roast coffee offers a bolder, smoky flavor profile with reduced acidity. Light roast coffee showcases the intricate nuances and brightness of the beans’ origin.  Choose your swill wisely!