What Is The Difference Between Medium And Dark Roast Coffee

What Is The Difference Between Medium And Dark Roast Coffee?

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 of 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. 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

Coffee Curiosity: What does dark roast coffee taste like

What Is Medium Roast Coffee?

Medium Roast coffees, are a lighter shade of brown that 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 of 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

What’s Brewing: 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 other pour over method.
  • 3. Siphon.
  • 4. Drip coffee.
  • 5. Espresso with a longer extraction time 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 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 of Arabica beans of 8 ounce (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 in color, 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. Espresso
  • 2. Ristretto.

…And other espresso based drinks, such a latte, cortado, iced coffee etc. You can use French press, Moka pot and Siphon methods, but 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 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 not light and bright in the taste department and is very bold, deep, smoky and strong in taste. With a dark roasted cup of coffee, you will definitely experience a full body, more dense flavor.

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 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.

Coffee is love, it's more than love — it's a passion of mine. I've had the luck to have travelled and enjoyed the most exotic of coffee's and unique flavors, brewing methods and techniques of making the perfect coffee from Thai hill tribe coffee to Indonesian volcanic coffee, Malaysian coffee that comes in a tea bag and the array of flavors in Vietnam, from Vanilla to Orange to Coconut to Avocado to even salt coffee and the famous egg coffee. The best part of my coffee adventures is getting to mix with the locals over a nice brew and learning how they make it! I'm cited and referenced on Google Scholar for the topic of coffee.

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