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Difference Between Light and Dark Roast Coffee

Are you a coffee lover and knows his way around coffee? Or a you the simple black coffee type, not that familiar with terms and stuff about his cup of joe?

If you are the latter, then you are in for new information. Danya Henninger of explains in her article the difference between light roasted coffee and dark roasted coffee.

The Difference Between Light and Dark Roast Coffee, Explained

Roast degree is one of the most misunderstood things in coffee. Instead of ordering “dark roast” or “light roast,” I encourage people to think about flavor profile, such as full bodied, rich, nutty, crisp or bright, and ask for that instead – you have a much better chance of getting what you’re looking for. Good roasters use different roasts for different beans for many reasons, and a lot goes on in the transformation from light to medium to dark.

In a light roast, the difference between different origins is at its most distinct, and the unique qualities of each bean (Ethiopian vs. Guatemalan vs. Indonesian, etc.) are most obvious, and can be celebrated. At this point the bean also has the highest acidity and brightness.

As the cooking continues, you begin to add body, decrease acidity and see a slight drop off in origin distinction. This is where you’ll find a medium roast, which gives a nice balance of bitterness, acidity and fullness.

When you approach the darker side of the roast, beans start to lose their origin distinction. A dark roast coffee will have flavor notes that rely more on the roasting itself than the unique character of the bean. It will also lose brightness, and gain bitterness, along with a fuller body.

However, you don’t always have to look to a dark roast for great body and fullness. For example, a talented roaster who knows the craft well can get a great, full-bodied coffee from a good Sumatra coffee without having to roast too dark. Another note about dark roast coffee: it’s a myth that a dark-roasted coffee has a lot of caffeine. The truth is, along with a decrease in brightness, caffeine levels drop as roasts get darker.

These days there’s a trend in serving origin-specific coffees, made with beans from a single farm, or even a single lot from that farm. This is where a lighter roast makes sense, because it highlights the unique qualities of the coffee, and you’ll be able to taste floral notes, strong berry flavors, clove or chocolate. Lighter roasts may require some adventurous coffee drinking (and skilled roasting), but they’re definitely worth a try.

Roast preference is still dependent on how you like your coffee. The skill of the roaster adds as a plus if they know how to roast different types of coffee.


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