Dark Roast Vs Medium Roast - A Roasting Battle!

Dark Roast Vs Medium Roast – A Roasting Battle!

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 12:40

When it comes to great coffee, getting the right roast for the specialty beans you want to try can be tricky. The question and choice that crosses coffee lovers minds is Dark roast Vs Medium roast.

Each of the two roast profiles has their plus points and their drawbacks. In this article we will outline and talk about and compare the two most popular roast profiles amongst coffee enthusiasts.

By the time you have finished reading this article, you will know all about medium and dark roast profiles, and which is best for you and why you should select which one.

Keep reading as we rock on with this article.

What Is A Dark Roast Coffee?

In the simplest of terms, dark roast coffee beans are coffee beans that have been roasted at a slightly higher temperature and for a little longer than other roast profiles. The result of which is a darker coffee bean and a cup of coffee with a fuller body and a more traditional dark, nutty and chocolate taste.

A longer and deeper roast reduces the bright floral notes and has a more bitter and less sour taste than a light roast. It is said that dark roasts have slightly less caffeine than lighter roasts.

But, coffee is not so much about how much caffeine or energy boost or stimulation. It is about the flavor profile and taste.

Full city roast, Vienna roast, French roast Espresso roast and Italian roast are well known and popular dark roasts.

Expect a smoky taste with Italian and French roasts.

What Is A Dark Roast Coffee
Dark Roasted Coffee Beans

Read: Is Colombian coffee light or dark roast?

What Is A Medium Roast Coffee?

Medium roast coffee beans are a darker brown color than light roast coffee and produce a thicker body. A medium roasted coffee has a balanced flavor profile with some original flavor and light floral tastes from the origin and some tastes from the roasting process.

They are roasted just before the second crack, at a temperature of 210C to 219C (410F to 440F).

American Roast and City roast are two popular roast levels that are classed as a medium roast. For many, this roast profile produces the best, most flavorful coffee without being too light and floral.

What Is A Medium Roast Coffee
Medium Roast Coffee

Dark Roast Coffee Vs Medium Roast: The Taste Factor

Coffee in its natural raw form, as a green coffee bean, is incredibly acidic and has a taste that you simply will not enjoy. It is also very grassy.

The roasting process reduces the acidity and the grassy taste and more flavors from within the bean come through.

A medium roast, regardless of which level of medium roast, retains a degree of the acidity and the unique flavor of the coffee bean and its location.

The only exemption to this is Colombian coffee beans as they are washed during their cultivation, which reduces the acidity further.

The ability of a medium roast to retain the original flavor and notes and have some of the taste associated with the roasting process makes them the most popular and preferred choice of coffee enthusiasts.

A dark roast has little acidity and has a deeper, bolder taste that you would associate with a strong coffee. Back in the day, a dark roast was used to mask the poor tasting low quality coffee beans.

Now though, many coffee aficionados enjoy real good, real dark roasted coffee beans as they make great espresso and go well with milk based coffee drinks like a cappuccino, flat white, cortado, mocha and a latte, for example.

 Dark Roast vs Medium Roast Caffeine Content

Which coffee roast is the strongest?, Which coffee roast has the most caffeine?

These are two common questions asked and a number of myths exist relating to caffeine content and the roast profile of a coffee bean.

Search enough, and you will find websites telling you that the lighter a roast is, the more caffeine it has, and the darker the roast is, the more caffeine the roast has.

So which is correct?

It is the former, rather than the latter, that is correct. I took a variety of different beans to a local university lab for analysis. All samples given were of light, medium and dark roast profiles.

The tests conducted were the beans’ caffeine content by weight (mass) and by the number of beans.

During the test, we also brewed coffee by both weighing the beans and by counting, using the same number of beans, measured how much caffeine was in the beans.

I really wanted a conclusive answer.

And I got it!

The result, every single time, with undoubted consistency, was that the lighter a roast is, the more caffeine there is in the beans and the resulting cup of coffee.

There is not a great difference in caffeine content between a light roast and a dark roast and thus even less of a difference between a medium roast and a dark roast.

The fact of the matter is, the role the roast level plays in caffeine content is negligible. The brewing method and the type of coffee you brew has a greater effect on the levels of caffeine in your coffee.

A 12 ounce (240 ml) cup of coffee brewed with a French press will have approximately 200 mg of caffeine while a shot of espresso made with the same beans will have around 65 mg of caffeine. It’s less caffeine in total but more on a per ounce (or ml) basis.

 Dark Roast vs Medium Roast Caffeine Content
Lighter Roasts Have More Caffeine Than Darker Roasts

Dark Roast Vs Medium Roast Health Benefits

To make it clear at the beginning of this section, I am not a health professional nor do I offer health advice in this particular section relating to the health benefits of a Dark roast Vs Medium roast coffee beans.

Medium and light roasts have higher levels of chlorogenic acid, a potent antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties and aids in repairing cell damage, reduces cholesterol and is said to boost energy levels too.

Dark roasts unfortunately have lower amounts of chlorogenic acid. Dark roast, in their favor, has an antioxidant called glutathione which is often referred to as the master antioxidant which more than makes up for the lack of chlorogenic acid.

Glutathione helps to restore red blood cells and aid in skin healing via an increase in vitamin E levels.

In this matter I’d lean towards a dark roast having greater health benefits than a medium roast.

Dark Roast Vs Medium Roast Health Benefits
Both Roasts Have Health Beneficial Properties

Dark Roast Vs Medium Roast Espresso Brewing

This is a question of which makes the better espresso is more important than you think as an espresso forms the base of many milky coffee drinks like a latte, mocha, cappuccino and many more.

While Starbucks does offer a blonde espresso, this is more of a specialty drink to be enjoyed by serious espresso lovers.

Both medium, and especially roasts on the dark end of the medium roasting scale are good for brewing an espresso shot that you are going to use as the base for a milk based drink like a flat white or a cortado.

The roast must be sufficiently deep in its flavor to cut through the milk.

A dark roast is perfect for brewing espresso shots as it will produce a top quality thick rich crema on top.

The true answer to which is best fully depends on what you are making and if you want some or none of the flavors of origin. In certain circumstances, a real dark Italian roast that cuts through the milk and gives a good coffee flavor to your flavored latte.

Dark Roast Vs Medium Roast Espresso Brewing
Both Medium And Dark Roasts Are Good For Brewing Espresso Shots

Frequently Asked Questions About Dark Roast Vs Medium Roast

Is Dark Roast Stronger Than Medium Roast?

Dark roast beans produce a coffee that is stronger tasting than a coffee produced with medium roast beans. Expect a stronger coffee with reduced acidity.

The roasting process removes more of the flavor from coffee beans the longer they are roasted.

Is Dark Roast The Strongest Coffee?

In terms of taste, a dark roast produces the strongest tasting cup of coffee with an Italian roast, which is the darkest of the dark roasts being the strongest tasting coffee.

In terms of caffeine content, it depends on how you measure your coffee. If you weigh your coffee, a dark roast will have slightly more caffeine due to more of the water in the beans being lost through the evaporation process and each grind being lighter and more grinds being used to make up the desired weight.

If you weigh by volume using a scoop, due to expansion and the coffee beans (and thus grounds) growing slightly in size, less dark roast grinds fit inside a coffee scoop when compared to a light roast and thus a dark roast has less caffeine.

Either way, the difference is minor and insignificant.

Which Coffee Roast Is The Smoothest?

Medium roasts are the smoothest coffee and are the most traditional tasting with a balance of the flavor from the beans and from the roasting process.

Why Drink Dark Roast Coffee?

Dark roast coffee tastes great. If you love intense and deep tasting coffee a dark roast is best for you. They are a rich source of antioxidants. Darker roasts are also lower in acidity and thus easier on your stomach.

Is Dark Roast Better For Stomach?

Yes, French roast and Italian roast are easier on your stomach due to having a reduced acidity and contain a compound that tells your stomach to reduce the production of stomach acids.

Notably, cold brew coffee is the best coffee for your stomach due to the brewing process making a brew that is up to 60% less acidity.

Is Dark Roast More Bitter?

Yes, the darker your coffee is roasted, the stronger and more bitter it is.

Frappé-Ing It All Up – Dark Roast Vs Medium Roast

I am not one for making binary choices of A Vs B or, in this case, dark roast Vs Medium roast as you will likely want to use a medium roast for different reasons and different coffee drinks.

When it comes to specialty coffee, you’d likely ruin it or get very little benefit should you opt for a dark roast. If you want a coffee roast for making a great espresso, look towards a dark, deep roasted coffee bean.

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or Derek@LatteLoveBrew.com, mentioning your name and location

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