Coffee Roasts: What’s the Difference?

Posted: March 20, 2017 | By: Rocio Ramos

We all love that boost of energy we get in the morning by drinking our first cup of coffee. And I’m sure we all have our favorite coffee roasts and flavors. Many believe that dark roasts, which have a full, rich flavor, have more caffeine than lighter roasts, for the pure and simple fact that they taste like they do. But, did you know that lighter roasts actually have slightly more caffeine? Let’s take a look at the three main roasts, how they’re roasted, and which ones have more caffeine levels than others.

Before they are roasted, coffee beans are green and heavy. The roasting process sucks the moisture from the beans, making them much lighter. Before roasting, the green beans smell very similar to grass. After roasting is what we know coffee to smell like, and roasting is what gives the beans their flavor.

Light coffee roasts are roasted for less time than dark roasts. Lightly roasted beans are light brown in color and are not oily, as they are not roasted long enough to pull the natural oils from the bean. Lighter roasts have slightly more caffeine than darker roasts because the natural caffeine levels in the bean burn off during the roasting process.

Medium coffee roasts are somewhere in between light and dark. Medium roasts are often called American roasts, because this roast is generally preferred by Americans. This is what your typical “cup of joe” would be considered. Medium roasts are a medium brown color and slightly oily, but not enough to see the oil on the beans.

Dark coffee roasts are going to be your full-bodied, highly flavorful roasts. They are very dark brown to black, and have an oily surface. This is the only bean that is roasted to the point of completely extracting the oils from the bean. Despite its bold, heavy flavor, dark roasts have the least caffeine of all the roasts. (Not to say it doesn’t have enough; dark roasts will still give you that boost.)

Contrary to what some believe, all three roasts do not have too large a difference in caffeine levels, so the roast you choose all depends on what kind of flavor you prefer. For a lighter, more acidic taste, light roast would be your go-to. For a heavy, flavorful, smoky taste, you may want to choose a dark roast. And for those who want a lighter, less acidic, typical cup of joe, choose a medium roast.




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