The Great Coffee Debate: Light Roast Vs Dark Roast Coffee



The world of coffee is a complicated one. It can be quite daunting to someone who is looking to enjoy the vast world of coffee drinking. There are a lot of things to know. One of these things is whether one should drink light roast coffee or dark roast coffee.

You might be saying, “Grounds Cafe, what are light roast and dark roast? Are there even differences between the two?”

Yes, in fact, there are differences between the two. The next logical question would be “Well then, what are those differences?” Read on to have this question, and more, answered!

What Makes For A Light/Dark Roast?

Light roast beans spend less time roasting and reach a lower final temperature. Typically, light roast beans are heated until their first crack at around 196 degrees celsius. Once that first crack happens, the beans are considered light roast.

Conversely, dark roast coffee beans are left to roast for longer and reach a higher temperature. To be considered dark roast, beans reach between 221 and 226 degrees celsius in the roaster.

This is not to say that there are not slight differences from instance to instance. Two brands may roast at different lengths and temperatures, but both may consider theirs to be a light roast. There is a bit of a grace area between types of roasts.

Light Roast Coffee Taste And Qualities

Since the beans are not roasted as long and maintain more moisture, light roast coffee keeps more of its unique tastes and body. A light roast coffee is more delicate and nuanced than its dark roast counterpart. It also makes for a thinner consistency than dark roast.

A light roast has brighter, more complex flavours to it than a dark roast does. Because of this, light roasts tend to make for a more experiential cup of coffee.

Coffee beans are actually seeds of the coffee cherry. Light roasts maintain more of the original flavour held by the seeds, and are often said to be fruitier, more floral, and less bitter in taste. The characteristics and qualities of the coffee bean really shine through in a light roast.

If you are looking for a little boost to your day, light roast beans are also able to hold more of their caffeine concentration, so they usually have a slightly higher caffeine content.

Dark Roast Coffee Taste And Qualities

Dark roast beans spend longer roasting and lose more moisture, leaving an oily texture on a dark chocolate-coloured bean. Because of this, it has simpler flavours, but they are much deeper and bolder than those of a light roast. Some describe a dark roast as having chocolatey, nutty, or even smoky notes.

They have been roasted longer, so expect a more bitter taste. Dark roasts are much further from the original coffee cherry seed origin than light roasts

The body of a dark roast is much fuller and thicker than a light roast. A dark roast may be a much more familiar feel, as most household and restaurant coffees are dark roast.

Which Coffee Roast Should I Choose?

When it comes to picking the right roast, it is more complicated than simply deciding which one sounds better. Light and dark roasts shine in different ways.

According to Master Barista Giorgio Milos, a light roast is better used in a pour-over method, since the beans are less processed and have more of their original flavours trapped inside. This method allows the beans to be in the water longer and extract subtle flavours.

Light roasts are better for a milder coffee experience. Since they have a less bold, pronounced flavour than a dark roast, some like to enjoy a light roast by itself to fully focus on the flavour notes. If you find that some coffee is too bitter for your palette, consider starting off with a light roast.

Dark roasts can be better for drinks like espresso that take less time to brew. Since flavours are much bolder and stand out more, dark roasts shine through more in a cup that has more than just coffee.

This is not to say that dark roasts can only be enjoyed alongside other components. Some thoroughly enjoy a cup of dark roast black, as-is. Dark roast just tends to be used as a base for more drinks.

With all of this in mind, both light and dark roasts can be used to make whatever type of drink you want. There is no correct choice. There are characteristics that make one or the other more favorable for certain drinks, but that is all. You can still make a latte with a light roast.

When it comes down to it, choosing what roast you want is all about personal taste. If you want your coffee to be milder and have more delicate flavours, go with a light roast.

If you want your coffee to have a simpler but bolder taste, go with a dark roast. Try different roasts and play around with it.

Health Benefits Of Light And Dark Roast

There are an array of different health benefits to drinking coffee. Lower chances of heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer are among them, but are there differences between light and dark roast coffee when it comes to your health?

The answer is not exactly. While there is research as to whether or not the roast of your coffee can affect the health benefits behind it, they are not fully conclusive.

Researchers believe that dark roast coffee has a higher level of antioxidants overall, while light roasts have more polyphenols and chlorogenic acids.

If you have problems with heartburn, a dark roast may be a better choice for you since the acidity is more mild.

Ensuring The Best Taste, No Matter The Roast

If you are brewing at home, there are some things to note to ensure you are doing either roast justice. More things go into the perfect cup than hot water and coffee beans.

Factors that go into your cup of coffee tasting great can include:

  • The country of origin
  • The coarseness of the grind
  • The method of brewing
  • Ripeness of seed when picked
  • Time spent from grind to cup
  • Taste of the water used

It’s quite the list of things to keep in mind. Some are out of your control. With so much going into the taste of the final product, considering the factors can help you produce the best representation of either light or dark roasts.

As for country of origin, it does not affect the taste in a conventional way. One country does not produce objectively better coffee than another. The notes from different countries just vary. Much like roasts, countries of origin should also simply be given trials to find the perfect one.

One of the biggest factors to keep in mind when buying beans for brewing is time. Once beans are ground, the optimal thing to do is brew right after. This ensures the maximum amount of flavour is retained from grounds to cup.

Some places grind and package beans for those that either do not have the means to grind their own beans or simply do not have the time. Pre-ground beans are not bad. The factor of convenience can be a dealbreaker for even the biggest of coffee fanatics.

Roasting is also a time-sensitive characteristic. The lifespan of a good coffee bean post-roast is short, so producers tend to label the roast date on the bag. If the label shows that it has been longer than two weeks, grab a different one.

Locally roasted beans are best to ensure the highest quality. Getting them from a roaster to your home quickly means that they are the freshest they can be. Fresh beans offer the most flavour.

Let Us Help You Find What You Like

Hopefully, the light versus dark roast debate can come to an end now with all of this information. Whether you brew it yourself or buy a premade cup, get out there and try different roasts in different ways. Find your perfect cup.

The best way to expedite the process of finding your perfect cup is by coming to one of Grounds Cafe’s nine sites across the UK Midlands. With 7 of our 11 hot drinks to choose from containing coffee, you’re bound to find one you like.Maybe the bricks-and-mortar scene is not your style. That works too. Our Grounds Blend is locally sourced. It has notes of a nutty chocolate, caramel, and peach. Either way, expect nothing but the best from Grounds Cafe. Check out our online shop if you would rather try your hand at brewing yourself.

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