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Light vs Dark Roast Coffee: What Are the Differences?

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If you’ve been enjoying the same type of coffee for more than half your life, you might be surprised to learn that there are different roasts. Have you ever heard about light, medium, medium, medium-dark, and dark roast?

Of course, you can expect dark roast coffee to have much darker beans than light roast coffee. But as you’re about to see, the differences between these two roasts go far beyond colours.

Let’s simplify things by discussing light vs. dark roast coffee.

What is light roast coffee?

If you see lightly roasted coffee beans, you look at light-roasted coffee. These coffee roasters have a light golden brown colour and a matte exterior, and they are roasted in a way that preserves and enhances their natural flavours.

In other words, those coffee beans are not burnt to a crisp but gently roasted to reveal flavours that will seem very unusual to people who only drink dark roast coffee. Some types of light roast coffee can be compared to tea.

A manual brewing method such as cold brew or pour-over is best when preparing a cup of light roast coffee. And, of course, to enjoy the best flavour possible, you should always use fresh coffee beans.

What is dark roast coffee?

Now, if you look at dark roast coffee, you will see that those beans are much darker. They even have a shiny exterior because of the oils they release while roasting.

Dark roast coffee is roasted for a longer time than light roast. During the roasting process, the beans go through caramelization and reach the carbonization stage, which gives them those classic smoky and ashy tones.

Dark roast coffee is best enjoyed when brewed in a French press, expresso-style, or simply prepared in a regular coffee maker.

Now that we know more about light vs. dark roast coffee let’s look at the differences regarding flavour, aroma, caffeine content, and acidity.

Light vs Dark Roast Coffee: Flavour

Light roast coffee, as previously mentioned, is roasted in a way that enhances the natural flavours of coffee. You can expect light roast coffee to have bright and complex flavours. They can have fruity, floral, and sweet tones with a subtle roasted grain flavour.

Dark roast coffee is considered stronger than light roast coffee because it generally has a more robust flavour. Those dark roast beans can have a caramelized, nutty, or dark chocolate flavour with toasty, smoky, or burnt undertones.

As you can easily imagine, a cup of light and dark-roast coffee are very different.

Light vs Dark Roast Coffee: Aroma

The flavour of coffee is important, but its aroma matters as well. After all, smelling coffee makes us want to drink coffee.

Of course, fresh coffee will always have a stronger aroma than stale coffee. But you should also know that the darker the roast, the stronger the aroma.

While light roast coffee can have a sweet, floral, or fruity aroma, dark roast coffee is expected to have a roast, smoky, or burnt one.

So, what type of aroma do you prefer smelling when you wake up?

Light vs Dark Roast Coffee: Caffeine

Although dark roast coffee has a stronger flavour and aroma, it contains less caffeine than light roast coffee. This is because as the coffee beans spend more time roasting, more caffeine is extracted.

However, the difference in caffeine content in light vs. dark roast coffee is minimal. How you brew the coffee beans of your choice will have a bigger impact on how much caffeine ends up in your cup. For example, if you brew an expresso, you will get more caffeine than if you prepare yourself a cup of drip coffee.

Consider choosing decaf if you don’t want to consume too much caffeine.

Light vs Dark Roast Coffee: Acidity

If you have a sensitive stomach, you’re probably wondering which roast has less acidity.

While no coffee is acid-free, you have to know that dark roast coffee is smoother than light roast. This is because more acid is extracted from the beans during the longer roasting process, so this acidity doesn’t end up in your cup.

Therefore, dark roast coffee should be more gentle on your digestive system. But if acidity is an issue for you, you should seek varieties of coffee, either light or dark roast, that are naturally low in acidity.

And if acidity has never been a problem for your stomach, try different roasts of coffee until you find the one you prefer.

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