You bought a bag of dark roast coffee and want to know how to make dark roast coffee taste better, not too bitter and too bold or a burnt ashy coffee.
This article is full of practical tips, techniques and what you can do to get a much better tasting dark roasted coffee. Some are obvious, others elusively obvious. All of them are easy to implement.
Let’s get rockin’ and get brewing and enjoying a hot, freshly-brewed dark roast coffee.
How To Make Dark Roast Coffee Taste Better Tip #1 Use Fresh Coffee Beans
I am a fan of dark roasts, and a big fan of deep, dark roasts like Italian roast and French roast and do a bit of my own roasting with my home roaster, often roasting beyond these roast profiles (not for the faint-hearted!).
I’ll tell you straight up you need to use fresh coffee beans. This stands solid for light roast coffee beans just as much as it does medium roast and dark roast coffees. Coffee is a food product, and it stands to reason, the fresher the end product, the better tasting it will be.
Unfortunately, for lovers of dark roasted coffee, the beans go stale pretty quickly, usually in 10 to 14 days after roasting and even less for deeper, darker roasts.
This is why, at Latte Love Brew we encourage you to roast your own beans at home with your own home coffee roaster. Make what you need every week or twice per week.
When you roast your beans well past their second crack, the cell structure of the coffee bean becomes more porous and more fragile. This roasting process, unfortunately, reduces the period of time in which your beans can stay fresh.
According to expert roasters, dark roasted coffee beans like a French roast can begin to start losing their freshness only 3 days after roasting.
This means, if you are to get the best flavor in your cup of coffee made with dark roast coffee beans, particularly the very dark roasts, you need to either roast your beans frequently, twice per week, or buy smaller bags and buy them more often.
Read: What roast is the strongest coffee
Tip #2 Focus On This When Buying Dark Roasted Coffee Beans
When you are buying your dark roasted beans, in fact, I advise this for all coffee beans, especially medium roast coffees and dark roasts. This tip is to look for a roasted on date.
Look at the bag of coffee that you are interested in and look for the roast on date. The fresher, most recently roasted ones are the beans that have been roasted the soonest. In your local store, you might need to dig back on the shelf a little bit to get the fresher ones.
A bag of beans, be they ground of whole beans that has no roast date. I will not touch with a barge pole! I assume they are already stale.
Read: Cleaning Capresso Coffee Maker
Tip #3 Check Your Bag Quality!
The bag quality is key to how fresh it will keep your beans. Just like the above two tips, this applies to all roast levels, from the darker roast to the lighter roast.
Focus on your bag and make sure that it has a one-way valve to let out the carbon dioxide that the beans will give off and not let in any air that can accelerate their decline in freshness. Make sure they are foil-packed and with a zip airlock seal for closing the bag after use.
Tip #4 Store Your Beans Well
You have a good bag that meets all the requirements, airlock zip seal closing, one way valve, foil packed. Now you need to store that bag in the perfect conditions to maintain fresh coffee beans.
Coffee experts and coffee lovers advise that you store your beans in a dark environment away from strong odors and at a regular room temperature. This is great advice as coffee takes on and absorbs scents and is easily damaged by strong lights, especially sunlight.
I store my beans in the fridge and in a special dark airtight container with a one-way valve.
Tip #5 Let Your Beans De Gas
When you roast your own beans or buy beans that have been roasted on the same day, let them degas for 24 hours.
I have noticed a better quality cup of coffee from dark roasted coffee beans after just letting them sit and degas for a whole day. There is a notable difference with less ashy flavor, slightly less burnt taste and a better tasting coffee just by, well, doing nothing other than letting the beans sit and degas.
When a coffee is just recently roasted it gives off carbon dioxide in greater quantities than it does a few days later.
To be clear, when you let your beans sit for this 24 -hour period, you need to do nothing at all. Just store that bag well as described above. The one way valve will release the carbon dioxide. I keep my beans in a specialist coffee canister with such a valve, and it is dark in color to prevent any light from coming in. I store it in the fridge for extra freshness factor.
I am a fan of coffee roasting at home and a dark roast coffee fan. I get my maximum freshness by doing my own coffee roasting. I have plenty of coffee roasting articles full of hints, tips, techniques and tutorials that you can check out. Just check out the coffee roasting category or use the search facility on our site.
Tip #6 Grind Your Own Beans
So far all the tips have been related to improving the freshness factor of your coffee. This tip is no different.
I strongly encourage you to grind your own beans immediately before you brew your coffee for maximum freshness.
As soon as your beans are roasted they start going off, the same happens when your coffee beans are ground. As soon as you grind them, you accelerate their decay and start to lose more of their freshness factor.
The obvious solution for maximum freshness is to use your grinder and grind your beans immediately before you brew your coffee. The fresher your coffee grounds are, the better your coffee will be.
I never buy coffee grounds, I always do my own grinding. The best type of grinder is burr coffee grinder, being more specific, a ceramic conical burr grinder.
This type of coffee grinder is the best due to the heat produced in grinding your beans is detrimental to their quality and freshness. A ceramic conical burr grinder produces less heat than metal burr and metal blade type of grinders.
My preferred option of a manual coffee grinder is also a very good choice.
Tip #7 Adjust Your Grind Size
When you have your own ceramic conical burr coffee grinder or manual coffee grinder, you can adjust your grind size to alter and improve the taste of your dark roast beans for a better, deeper dark roast coffee flavor.
With dark roast beans, it is most likely that the flavor will improve with a coarser grind size. A small grind size is likely to lead to a stronger, more bitter flavor.
It is due to being a big dark roast coffee fan that got me into the nuances and technicalities of coffee brewing. I swear brewing coffee is a beautiful mix of science and art.
Tip #8 Adjust Your Brewing Temperature
The temperature, and quality, of the water in which you are brewing will effect the extraction of the coffee oils, flavonoids and other compounds that affect the taste of your Cuppa Joe.
Coffee experts, enthusiasts and connoisseurs advise using a water temperature that is just a touch below boiling point. A typical hot water temperature to use is between 195F to 205F (92C to 96C).
The slight problem with this standardized temperature is that it is not suited for all roast types.
Lighter roast coffee brews very well at the higher end of the temperature scale, where it is better to brew dark roast coffee at the lower end, as this is where it tastes better.
At the top end of this narrow bandwidth at 205F (96C) the taste of a dark roast is bitter, ashy and tastes a little burnt, even with a good quality dark roast blend.
At the lower end, at 195F (92C) the taste was much better. The slight 10F (4C) difference in water temperature resulted in my cup of coffee being less bitter and not at all ash like or burnt tasting.
If your brew tastes weak at the lower temperature, simply increase the amount of coffee grounds used.
I hope you are at least beginning to see where the science part of brewing coffee is. I strongly advise you to take notes of everything, jot them down, and use the note taker in your phone or computer. By doing that, you will make predictably better coffee and get consistent results every single time.
Temperature, roast, grind size, brew method, water quality, coffee to water ratio and brew time. Note all the variables.
Tip #9 Alter Your Ratios
Changing and altering your coffee to water ratio will also have a notable effect on how your coffee will taste. If you are using a 1:16 ratio of 1 part coffee to 16 parts water, try a ratio of 1:15 or 1:18 adjusting in both directions and finding out what you like best.
Tip #10 Alter Your Brew Time
Another way to change and adjust how your coffee is tasting, and improve the flavor of dark roast as well as all other roasts is to increase or decrease your brewing time in 30 seconds to 60 seconds increments.
The contact time the water has with your grounds changes the flavor and can turn a bad tasting coffee into one of the best tasting coffee that you have tried.
This will adjust the flavor of your cup of coffee when using techniques where this is an option. Clever, Aeropress, French press and Siphon brewing techniques.
Tip #11 Drum Roasters Vs Air Roasters
This tip is for those that are roasting at home or considering joining the home roasting revolution. If you have a roastery in your city, you can visit them and ask for air roasted dark roast beans.
Roasting on a fluid bed air roaster results in a very noticeable cleaner bean that has a less burnt flavor that a flat bed or drum roaster. When your coffee roasts in a drum or air roaster, chaff separates itself from the coffee bean. With a vertical or horizontal rotating drum roaster, the chaff, not all of it, remains on the bean.
With an air roaster, the chaff is blown off and out of the roasting chamber, which results in a “cleaner” bean that tastes better.
This is not a problem with lighter roasts, only darker roasts where the chaff can result in an unwanted and undesired burnt flavor.
Due to the reduction in airflow when your beans are being roasted, this can cause the dark roasts to pick up more bitter notes. One of the things to be aware of with roasted coffee is how it is roasted.
Air roasting has the added advantage of a more even roast and less smoke being circulated while the beans are being roasted. The result of this is a less smokey and less of a charcoal taste to the coffee brewed with the beans.
It may sound very minor, but you will get a better coffee at the end of it. It is one of those unthought of coffee details that only the most experienced of coffee drinkers will think of.
Tip #12 Change Your Brewing Method
This should come as little surprise to you, or perhaps it does!
Changing your brewing method can alter the taste of your coffee quite dramatically. Switching from a French press or Aeropress to a cold brew, Japanese flash cold brew and moka pot can change the flavor of your dark roasted coffee and bring out the dark chocolate notes and dark roast body.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Do You Make Dark Roast Coffee Taste Better
How Do You Make Dark Roast Better?
You can make your dark roast taste better by taking control of the variables like the water temperature and reducing it slightly, making the grind size a little more coarse and adjusting the brewing times to avoid an over-extracted dark roast coffee.
Good storage and good roasting technique, ensuring good airflow during roasting may also help you to achieve that smooth-and-delicious dark roast that all dark roast lovers enjoy
Why Does Coffee Taste Burnt?
Your coffee, especially a dark roast, tastes burnt because it is being burnt during the roasting process. The roasting beans for a dark roast are taken to a point where they are very close to burning, particularly with Italian roasts and French roasts.
Also, roasting coffee in a drum leaves the chaff and the environment is very smoky, with the smoke having very little chance to escape and thus, the beans in the drum take on that dark, burnt, smoky taste.
How Do You Make A Dark Roast Taste Lighter?
To make your dark roast taste lighter, you can brew it with less coffee and go for a higher ratio of coffee to water. If you are brewing at a 1:15 ratio, move it up to a 1:16 coffee to water ratio. You can also try brewing at a much lower temperature and try out a cold brew.
How Do You Make Dark Coffee Taste Better?
A very surprising technique that sounds like it is a joke, but most certainly is not is to add a pinch, and I literally mean a pinch, a tiny pinch of salt to your dark roast or black coffee. The salt counteracts the bitter flavor of black coffee and produces a more even, mellow and rounder taste.
How Do You Fix Dark Roast Coffee?
When you are brewing with a dark roast and want to fix your dark roasted coffee, brew it at a reduced temperature, nearer the lower end of the perfect brewing temperature range of 92C (195F) to 96C (205F) and try and get your water temperature on, but not lower than 92C (195F).
The reduced temperature will extract less of the bitter flavors.
How Do You Make A Dark Roast Less Bitter?
To make a dark roast taste less bitter or to fix that bitter coffee that you are brewing you can adjust the variable to produce a better tasting cup of coffee.
- Reduce the brewing time. An overtly bitter coffee may be over extracted due to a brew time that is too long.
- Adjust the grind size (when reducing brew time is not an option). When you make your grind size a little larger, you can reduce the amount of bitter tones that are getting into your cup.
- Add a tiny dash of salt to counteract the bitter taste.
- Use better quality of water.
Frappé-Ing It All Up – How To Make Dark Roast Coffee Taste Better
How to make a dark roast coffee taste better is no longer a mystery or frustration for you. You have a number of top tips and hacks to make sure that you enjoy a delicious, full-bodied dark roasted coffee.
Take the time and effort to learn what affects your coffee, what the variables are and how you can adjust them to make your coffee taste much better.
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