What Is The Difference Between Medium And Dark Roast Coffee

What Is The Difference Between Medium And Dark Roast Coffee?

Last updated on November 24th, 2023 at 13:31

When I got started on my coffee journey, I was coffee curious and wondered what is the difference between medium and dark roast coffee?

The basic mechanics, physics and the difference between the two is as obvious as it is basic – one is roasted at a higher temperature than the other to create the darker color and roast profile.

But what about the taste, the caffeine content and the brewing methods?

You will find all those details and answers in this article.

Pull up a chair, grab a cuppa Joe and let’s see what’s brewing!

What Is The Difference Between Medium And Dark Roast Coffee?

Getting straight to the point, for those in a bit of a rush: The basic difference between these two roasted coffees is that a dark roast is roasted at a slightly higher temperature than a medium roast.

Medium roast coffee beans are roasted at 210C (410F), a typical temperature for an American roast, and 219C (426F), for a City roast.

Dark roast beans are roasted to 225C (437F), a typical temperature for a Full City Roast, and 230 C (446F), for a Vienna Roast.

The different roasting temperature brings about slightly different flavor characteristics of the coffee bean that has been roasted.

A medium roast has more distinct flavors and a hint of the original flavor characteristics associated with the location of origin. A dark roast has more of a standardized flavor with most of the distinct origins and flavors roasted out during the roasting process.

What Is Medium Roast Coffee
There Is A Difference Between Dark And Medium Roasts

Read: What does dark roast coffee taste like

What Is Medium Roast Coffee?

Medium Roast coffees are a lighter shade of brown than dark roasts and have a slightly thicker body than light roast coffee beans. Unfortunately, and due to being roasted at a higher temperature than a light roast, they will have lost some but not all the floral flavors that you would associate with light roast beans.

At the medium roasting level, the coffee beans start to take on the taste and flavors of the roasting process and a reduced amount of caffeine.

What Is Medium Roast Coffee
The Different Roasts

Read: What roast is the strongest coffee?

How To Brew Medium Roast Coffee

One mistake that coffee enthusiasts make at the start of their passion for brewing coffee is they brew all their beans and roasts the same way.

As a bean changes, it requires a different extraction time and, depending on the bean and roast, a different brewing method.

Just stick a medium roast into your espresso machine with all the same settings as an espresso roast (a dark roast) and expect similar results will just not work as well as it should. As you go down the roast level from dark to light, you need progressively longer extraction times to draw out the flavors.

Good brewing methods for medium roasts are:

  • 1. French press
  • 2. Chemex or another pour over method.
  • 3. Siphon.
  • 4. Drip coffee.
  • 5. Espresso with a longer extraction time of 30 to 35 seconds
  • 6. Cold brew (drip, full immersion or Japanese flash cold brew).
How To Brew Medium Roast Coffee
The Siphon Brewing Method Is Good For A Medium Roast

Medium Roast Coffee Caffeine Content

The caffeine myth, and one I see repeated across a number of coffee blogs, is that the darker the roast, the more caffeine it contains.

The opposite is true.

On average, a medium roast cup of coffee with Arabica beans of 8 ounces (240ml) when drip brewed will contain approximately 120 mg of caffeine.

What Is Dark Roast Coffee?

Dark roast coffee beans are of a darker brown and, in the case of Italian roasts and French roasts, are almost black, a similar color to dark chocolate. The glossy finish of the surface of the beans is due to the dark roasting of the beans drawing out the coffee oils to the beans surface.

The high roasting temperatures will have roasted out all the flavors from the country of origin and take on a full-bodied, bold, robust, dark smoky chocolaty flavor.

How To Brew Dark Roast Coffee

A dark roast, like any other roast, reacts differently to other roast types. With dark roast beans you will need to adjust your brew time and water temperature to avoid over extraction and ending up with a coffee that is too bitter to enjoy.

Good dark roasting methods include:

  • 1.French Press.
  • 2.Espresso.
  • 3. Ristretto.

… And other espresso based drinks, such as a latte, cortado, iced coffee etc. You can use your French press, Moka pot and Siphon methods if you are looking for a reduced brew time than a medium roast and light roasts.

Automatic drip machines work well too, if you like the strong bold dark coffee flavors that darker roasts bring about.

Dark Roast Coffee Caffeine Content

I spoke about it earlier, the caffeine level goes down as your roast gets darker. This is not to say the content of caffeine is lacking in a dark roast or any coffee drink such as an espresso that is associated with dark roast coffee beans.

Many other coffee bloggers forget that dark roasts are often blends mixed with Robusta beans to boost the caffeine. Otherwise, a straight Arabica dark roast would have notably less caffeine than light roasts.

An espresso, for example, has only 50 mg to 75 mg per shot and that is typically with a roast that has its caffeine kick enhanced by being a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans.

Is Medium Or Dark Roast Coffee Stronger?

A medium roast is, as the name suggests, a middle of the road coffee, neither dark nor light. In terms of caffeine content, a medium roast has more of a kick than a darker roast.

If it is stronger in terms of darker, deeper, more traditional bold coffee flavors, then a dark roast can be considered as stronger than a medium roast.

Is Dark Roast Strong?


despite having less caffeine content than their lighter counter-parts, a dark roast still has a good caffeine kick as they are often blended with Robusta beans to increase their caffeine level.

Taste and flavor wise, a dark coffee is no light and bright in the taste department and is very bold, deep, smoky and strong in taste. With a dark roast cup of coffee, you will definitely experience a full body more dense flavor.

Dark Roast Vs Medium Roast Taste

A dark roast coffee has a reduced acidity and is slightly bitter. The flavors of a dark roast are more related to the roasting process than the coffee beans themselves. When the beans have been roasted to a dark roast they will lose most, if not all, of the flavors of origin.

The taste is stronger, more dominant traditional and typical coffee taste with hints of chocolate, nuts and depending on the beans themselves fruity.

Medium roasts are a middle ground between light roasts and dark roasts, the best of both worlds. You can enjoy some (but not all) of the light, intricate tastes of the origin and from the bean while having a degree of the flavors from the roasting process.

This benefit is due to medium roast coffee beans having been roasted for reduced periods of time than dark roasted beans. Because of this they also have a touch more caffeine content.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Is The Difference Between Medium And Dark Roast Coffee

Is Dark Roast Or Medium Roast Coffee Stronger?

When it comes to flavor, a dark roast coffee has a more dominant and stronger taste, it is stronger with the traditional coffee taste with the taste coming from the dark roasting process.

In terms of caffeine content, a medium roast has more caffeine assuming all other variables are equal.

The difference in caffeine content is very little and is not something that you will notice at all.

Is Medium Coffee Stronger Than Dark?

The roast levels gain a stronger taste as they move up the roasting levels from light to dark. Lighter roasts have the lightest flavor; medium roasts are stronger than light roasts while a dark roast is stronger than a medium roast coffee.

The opposite is true for caffeine content. Dark roast beans have the least amount of caffeine and light roasts have the most.

Which Roast Of Coffee Is Healthier?

The lighter the color of coffee beans, the healthier they are. A light roast due to having been roasted at a low temperature and for a shorter period of time maintains more of the antioxidants and nutrient content.

Studies indicate that lighter roasts have more antioxidants than darker roasted coffee.

Is Dark Roast Coffee Good For Stomach?

Dark roast coffee is much easier on your stomach than lighter roasts due to being lower in acidity than lighter roasted coffees

Which Coffee Roast Has The Least Caffeine?

Dark roast coffee has the least caffeine than other roasts with the deepest of all dark roasts, an Italian roast having the weakest caffeine kick.

With this being said, there is not a big difference between light roast coffee beans and dark roasts.

A fine example of this is when you study the coffee and caffeine content of the beverages at Starbucks you’ll see that the difference between blonde roast and dark roast is minimal; in their espresso shots the difference is only 10 mg.

Be aware that there are multiple factors that influence the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee, including roast, type of coffee bean, brewing method, coffee to water ratio, brewing temperature being the common variables that we can control.

Does Dark Roast Coffee Mean That It’s Stronger?

A dark roast coffee means that it has been roasted for longer and at a higher temperature. They are stronger in flavor but not caffeine content. Many coffee drinkers fall into the misconception that a stronger flavor means more caffeine. The opposite is true.

Is Dark Or Medium Roast Coffee Stronger?

In terms of flavor and taste, a dark roast is notably stronger. As far as caffeine content is concerned and assuming all other variables are the same i.e. the type of coffee brewed, the brewing method used, the size of the drink and so on most have the same amount of caffeine with the exception of the two darkest roasts, which are a French roast and an Italian roast.

The reason a French roast and an Italian roast have slightly lower caffeine content is due to them being roasted at a temperature that is slightly above the melting point of caffeine, which ultimately means some of the caffeine content is damaged and lost during the roasting process.

Which Is Better Light Medium Or Dark Roast?

Which is better depends on the type of coffee beverage that you are brewing and your own personal coffee gusto. For example, cold brew coffee and full immersion techniques like French press work best with dark roasted coffee.

Light and medium roasted coffee works better with pour over coffee as the constant flow of fresh hot water.

If you love the lingering light and floral and unique flavors from your coffee beans, a light and medium roast is best for you. If you enjoy deep, dark and intense tasting coffee, a dark roast is better for you.

Frappé-Ing It All Up! – What Is The Difference Between Medium And Dark Roast Coffee?

There is no need to have the question “what is the difference between medium and dark roast coffee?” buzzing around your mind.

The best way of finding out is to go try both, and then you can compare and contrast. When you do this, make sure it is the exact same beans and just roasted to a different roast.

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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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