The difference between Light and Dark roast coffee

The difference between Light and Dark roast coffee

There are two fundamental differences between a darker and lighter roasted coffee, and then there’s several reasons “why.” So, let’s start with the fundamentals and then we’ll get into the reasons.

Fundamental #1: Caffeine Content
Lighter roasted coffee contains MORE caffeine than darker roasted coffee. This is because the caffeine resides in the alkaloid of the raw seed, and when we roast coffee seeds, we’re carbonizing them. Thus burning off some of the caffeine contained within it. The lighter we roast, the more caffeine that remains within the seeds. The darker we roast, the less caffeine.
Fundamental #2: Taste
This is where the confusion about caffeine usually stems from. A bitter taste is often considered “stronger” or “bolder,” and all those words are often mistaken for “caffeine.” The darker we go with our roast, the more we carbonize the seed, resulting in a more bitter flavor but not necessarily a higher caffeine content.
Lighter Roasted coffee will generally be more acidic with brighter flavors and a low body. Darker roasted coffee will generally have more body, lower acidity, but less flavor varietals. In a Medium Roast you get the best of both worlds. You still get some of the flavor varieties, but you also get some of the body. Medium Roasts are the most popular in commercial spaces, and often what you’re drinking when you go out to order a coffee at a café or restaurant.


So, let’s get into the WHY, which is my personal Favorite part of the equation.

We roast coffees in different ways to create dynamic flavors, and we design those flavors to be applied with specific brewing methods. For example, our lighter roasted coffees are designed for Espresso, because espresso is a highly concentrated shot of coffee. You wouldn’t want to concentrate a dark roasted, bitter taste into an espresso shot, because it will have no flavor. It’s just going to be bitter and low caffeine. With a lighter roast, we can concentrate the flavors of a lighter roast and into your espresso, and you might find that an espresso can be thoroughly smooth, full of flavor, and you can drink it black when it's roasted and brewed right.

Espresso is just coffee in Italy. This is also why Italian Coffee beans are almost always roasted light for the reasons I described above. We do it the Italian way.

Now we get into the other methods that are more commonly used in other parts of the world, like here in the USA. This is Drip coffee, whether that’s a pour over, drip, Moka Pot, or whatever else. This is where you can get some great flavors from any type of roast style – and is personally my favorite way to drink coffee. I love espresso, but I love drip coffee more. The variety of coffee is what I love, and this is why at Foxen we carry so many different origins and will continue to add more over time.

I will bring you new coffees as often as I can, and when the flavors speak to me - I will speak them to you. We can taste the world with Foxen together, one cup at a time.

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Nicolas M. Co-Founder,

Foxen Coffee Company

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