What’s the Difference? Light, Medium or Dark Roast Coffee

Many coffee drinkers have a favorite roast and have certain reasons why they like the taste or flavor.

For many years, Dark or French roast was the “King” of favorites, people felt it was the best quality and higher caffeine. Now, this thought is changing from the dark black coffees to the lighter roasted coffee. 

Why are Lighter Roasts now Preferred Versus Darker Roast?

First, it turns out the lighter roast now has better taste due to the better quality of coffee beans. Farmers, after many years, have learned and developed different techniques for growing beans and how to process them.

So, the coffee bean itself is much better quality than previous years and it seems that lower-quality beans were not as tasty, and that was the main reason they were processed into Darker roast to hide that lower flavor with the chocolate, caramel or burnt flavors of a high temp roast.

Second, coffee roasters do not now have to do darker roast as often, since coffee tastes have changed and there’s no need to hide coffee flavors. 

Light, Medium and Dark Roasted Coffees

Roasting beans changes the fat, sugar, and starches inside the bean, releasing the oils, which is what gives you distinctive aromas and tastes. 

Light Roast has a lighter color bean, less oil on the bean, each has a unique character telling you its origin, where it was grown, and processed. This has made a wide variety of flavors, aromas, and tastes from coffee beans around the world. Usually, these beans are roasted around 380-400 degrees F, right before the 1st crack, and retain more moisture.

This denser more, moist bean gives you a little more caffeine or brightness (acid), more of a fruity, herbal flavor with a thinner body, similar to a strong black tea. In most cases, the difference in caffeine between these three roasts are small, like 70 in lighter roast versus 65 mg in a darker roast. 

Medium roast beans are browner, may have a slightly oily surface, are medium acidity and a slight caramel sweet flavor from a little longer roasting reaching 400-430 degrees F. These medium roast coffees reach the 1st cracking and are more balanced, less intensely strong. 

Dark Roast is the darkest color bean and with a very oily surface, lower acidity, but this deeper roast removes some of the origin flavors, as in lighter roast. It becomes more of the nutty, chocolaty, caramel flavors and it produces the 2nd cracking sounds of the beans, at 430-450 degrees F, similar to a Vienna roast coffee.

You still can tell a difference no matter the roast as to if the bean was grown in Ethiopia or India.

Your other Flavors like French, Italian, expresso is to the extreme temperatures, darker than dark, almost a burnt, smoky flavor, which a lot of people enjoy. 

The Difference in Coffee Roasts in Summary

Everyone will have preferences, but I suggest trying out several different roasts, to find your favorites. You may find you like one light and one dark roast from different countries!

Enjoy your coffee straight up or with a little sugar or cream. Be daring and open to new flavors.






Cindy Burrows, B.S., M.T., Herbalist and is a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant helping individuals with health programs to improve life and happiness. She is a writer, speaker and owner of several businesses.





Written by Cynthia Burrows