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The Difference Between Light & Dark Roast Coffees

Everyone has a preference for dark versus light roast coffee. How to know the difference, and the impact they have on the taste of your coffee.

Are you one of these people who avoid dark roasts like the plague? “No, I will not be having any of that black death in my morning cup. I like my coffee light and sweet.”

Or are you the opposite and prefer a brew that's super dark and will make your spoon stand on end in the morning?

We don’t judge. But here are some facts that will help you understand the difference:

Light Roasts

  • Generally higher acidity (flavor peaks)
  • Higher brightness (flavors that stand out)
  • Slightly more caffeine
  • Can taste more of the original flavor of the beans, like strong florals, berries, etc.
  • Very little oil on the surface of beans
  • Common names: Light City, Half City, Cinnamon Roast, New England Roast

Dark Roasts

  • Stronger, smokier, or earthier tastes
  • Fuller body, especially when it comes to adding milk and/or sugar
  • Shiny appearances from oil on surface of beans
  • Tend to spoil faster, since more oils are released from beans as they sit, and these oxidize
  • Slightly less caffeine
  • Lose some of the original flavors as they take on flavor from the roasting process
  • Common names: French Roast, Italian Roast, Espresso Roast, Continental Roast, New Orleans Roast, Spanish Roast

Here at Bean Box, we are equal opportunity coffee drinkers, but we often come across customers who have a taste preference, even though they might not really know about (or care about) the specific difference in roast profiles. We suggest that folks new to fresh coffee, and who are open to expanding our palates start by trying a range of roast profiles, and then trying to determine whether and/or which profile they prefer. But our general rule of thumb is that lighter roasts have more distinct flavor profiles, whereas darker ones feel more "roasted" to the taste buds. Either way, enjoy!

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