Which Coffee Roast Level is Right for You? Dark, Medium, or Light?
Society has taught us that darkly roasted coffee has a higher caffeine level when compared to lightly roasted coffee. In this article, we will break down each component, and hopefully, by the end of it, you will be able to decide if a dark, medium, or lightly roasted coffee is more suitable for you.
Roasting coffee in the specialty world looks a lot different than commodity roasting. In the commodity world, very dark roasts rule the day because they sort of knock out the bad flavours of lower-grade coffee beans.
In the specialty world, however, we don’t have to “roast away” bad flavours. Our goal is to emphasize the good ones- and that normally happens by roasting the coffee a little lighter.
Light Roast Coffee
Light roast beans are typically a dark tan colour and have no visible surface oils. Since they’re technically the ‘least roasted,’ they retain more of the unique flavours and characteristics of the origin farm than other roast levels.
Light roasts typically have a vibrant, crisp acidity that enhances the brighter flavours of the beans. Floral and fruity notes tend to really poke out at this roast level, partially because of the brighter acidity. Light roasts also tend to have a light body, bright aromas, and no bitterness.
If you like your coffee to have all those exotic flavours, with crisp acidity, lemon, green apple tasting notes, and a light body lingering in your mouth, a lightly roasted coffee is for you.
People who tend to choose lightly roasted coffee also typically brew their coffee with a V60, pour-over or hand brew, compared to an espresso brew method.
- Crisp acidity
- Floral and fruity flavours and sweetness
- Light body
- Bright aromas
- No bitterness
Here at Hisbrew Coffee, we have our Kenya Kiringaya as our light roasted coffee, it has flavour notes of, blackberry, brown sugar, and black tea.
Medium Roast Coffee
Medium roast coffees are a light brown colour and rarely have any surface oils. These beans still feature most of the unique characteristics of the origin farm or region, but they package them in a more approachable, smoother flavour profile.
Medium roasts tend to take those exotic flavours and trim off their edges. A pleasant caramel or honey sweetness forms, rounding out the acidity a bit and creating a greater sense of balance. Medium roasts are also known as Full City, Breakfast, or Regular Roast.
If you enjoy your coffee not too bitter and not too acidity, with a smooth finish, with a slight hint of chocolatey or caramel taste, generally medium roast or medium-dark roast would be suitable for you.
- Honey or caramel sweetness
- Medium body
- Rich, rounded aromas
Here are some of our Medium to Dark roast coffee at HisBrew Coffee.
Dark Roast Coffee
Dark roasts of specialty coffee still aren’t as dark as the dark roasts of commodity coffee. These beans are dark brown in colour and often have a thin oily sheen on their surfaces.
Flavour-wise, dark roasts are less characteristic of the beans’ origin, but they’re not uniform or boring. They can still be diverse and satisfying. The brighter acids and more exotic notes are smoothed out, the aromas become deep and rich, a darker sweetness like chocolate or molasses forms, and notes of spice and wood appear. Roasts that fall within the dark category include French, Viennese, Italian, and Espresso.
If you enjoy your coffee with a hint of bitterness, very similar to kopi O coffee here in Malaysia, and you tend to enjoy your coffee with milk or creamer, dark roasts are generally more suitable for you.
- Low acidity
- Deep spice, earth, and woody flavours
- Molasses or chocolate sweetness
- Heavy body
- Rich, deep aromas
- Pleasant bitterness
Here at Hisbrew, we have our Sumatra Gayo Mountain as our dark roasted coffee.
Does dark roasted coffee have MORE caffeine than lightly roasted coffee?
To answer this question simply is NO. Dark roasted coffee typically does not have more caffeine than light roasted coffee. The caffeine level of a coffee bean depends more on the origins of the coffee and its varietals than on the degree of roast.
Coffee beans from different countries would have different caffeine levels, so if you take a single-origin Sumatra Mandheling and compared it with a Colombia Supremo coffee, both depends on its origin, its growing elevation, density to determine the caffeine level.
Arabica coffee vs. Robusta coffee, which has more caffeine?
Robusta coffee has more caffeine in general. A typical robusta bean has twice the amount of caffeine per bean when compared with an arabica bean.
In conclusion, which is the right coffee roast level for me?
Roast levels play an important role in a coffee’s flavour and aroma. However, choosing a light roast doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll always enjoy the coffee’s natural flavours. Here are some tips to help you decide on the right roast for your coffee:
- If you prefer coffee with lower acidity levels and fewer bright notes, then opt for a medium or medium-dark roast.
- To bring out the brightest and most powerful naturally occurring flavour notes in your coffee, opt for a light roast.
- Dark roasts can provide a crowd favourite, so don’t hesitate to try them. Consider using a blend rather than a single origin for this.
So the next time you pick up your beloved brew, whether it is fondly known as your: Joe, Jitter Juice, Java, Liquid Energy, or whatever you call it, appreciate all the roast options at your disposal and the mastery of what you hold in your hand.