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difference between light roast and dark roast coffees

Light Roast Vs Dark Roast: The Differences Revealed

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Light Roast Vs Dark Roast: The Differences Revealed


Whether you’ve been drinking coffee for years or are a newcomer to the coffee scene, you’re likely aware that light roast and dark roast are two popular roasts. But you may not know the differences between light and dark roast coffee -or your understanding of what distinguishes these two roasts from one another may be vague.


If that’s you and you’re curious to know more specifics about light vs dark roast coffee, you’re in for a treat. We’ll reveal the differences between dark coffee and light coffee, and who knows, you may even find yourself excitedly talking roasts with fellow coffee lovers with confidence!

What is Light Roast Coffee?

Light roast is heated for a shorter time and at a lower temperature than dark roasts. The beans can reach a temperature of between 385 degrees and 410 degrees. Beans typically pop at around 385 degrees (this popping sound is known as the “first crack”). The first crack signals that the beans have reached a light roast. 


Since lightly roasted beans aren’t left on the roasting machine for as long as dark roasted beans, more moisture remains inside the bean, resulting in a denser coffee. Light roast coffees are characterized by their light brown color, lack of oil on the surface of the beans and a light body.


Our top-selling light roasts include Kona 100% Single Origin Reserve, House Blend Light Roast, Brazil Cerrado Light Roast Single Origin and Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Light Roast Single Origin.


What is Dark Roast Coffee?

Dark roast coffee beans stay on the roasting machine for longer and at a higher temperature than light roasted beans. To be considered dark, beans need to be roasted to a temperature higher than 430 degrees (but not much hotter than 440 degrees), which is the end of the second crack. The beans lose more moisture in this process, resulting in a less dense coffee.


Dark roast coffees are characterized by their dark brown, almost black, oil that glosses the surface and a robust, full body. Dark roast coffee typically has a bold, smoky taste since the coffee’s country of origin flavors are almost entirely roasted out.


Some of our most popular dark roasts include: Viennese Dark Roast, Espresso Roast Blend, French Roast and Sumatra Mandheling, Single Origin DarkRoast.


Light Roast Vs Dark Roast Taste

Light roasts tend to have more delicate yet complex flavor profiles than dark roasts. Dark roasts tend to have deep but simple flavors due to some of the initial flavors of the beans being lost or changed during the roasting process.


Dark roast is sometimes described as tasting more bitter than light roast. However, the bitterness of coffee can be caused by factors other than the roasting method, such as the brewing time, the coffee-to-water ratio used, and the grind depending on the brewing system. 


Words frequently used to describe light roast coffee are crisp, acidic, floral and fruity.


Words that are often used to describe dark roast coffee are bold, smoky, chocolaty, nutty and robust.


For the best flavor experience, light roasts are often recommended for pour-over, and drip coffee and dark roasts are perfect for espresso drinks or drinks that incorporate milk or cream.


Light Roast Vs Dark Roast: Summary

Light roast coffee has a complex flavor profile that can be characterized as crisp and acidic. Dark roast coffee has a more straightforward flavor profile and is usually bold and robust.


The differences between light and dark roast coffee result from the length of time the beans are roasted and the temperatures reached during the roasting process. Shop The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store for light and dark roasts, or sign up for a 3-month or 6-month coffee subscription to ensure you always have your favorite coffee ready to brew at home.