Light vs Dark: what does it mean?

“Which roast would you like” The barista asks.

Your mind races. You always hear dark roast is more superior. But light roast has a certain je ne sais quoi sound to it. You ask which they would recommend, to which of course they reply with “both are delicious I hear,” or something of the sort.

In a few seconds you have to decide between two types of coffee you kn0w nothing about.

Well my friend, I am here to tell you about the difference between the two. No more roast dilemmas for you.


The length of roasting time determines the if the roast is light or dark. Although light roast is “lighter” it actually has more caffeine. The reason for this is that more of the actual bean is burned the longer is roasts, so it also loses caffeine.

“Usually a light roast has a more acidic flavor as apposed to the darker roasts which if brewed correctly usually have a more chocolaty taste. sometimes we confuse this acidic taste to strong caffeinated coffee.” (


Roasting the beans longer gives them a smoother flavor, but too long leads to a burnt flavor. Dark roast simply means that the coffee bean has been roasted to a higher temperature and typically for a longer period of time. This causes all of the flavor molecules stored within the coffee beans—both the good and bad flavors—to be burnt away. By roasting so dark, the end consumer (you) can’t tell whether it’s a good bean or a bad bean because all the natural flavors have been turned to charcoal. (

Here is a chart describing the different coffee roasts and their flavor results:

chart courtesy of

Published in: on March 27, 2010 at 3:12 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,