Light Vs. Dark Roast: What Is the Difference?

Light Vs. Dark Roast: What Is the Difference?

What is the difference between light and dark roast coffee?

If new to coffee, you may be asking yourself this question. Worry not if you still have not figured out what is the difference between these two terms because we are about to tell you everything. 


coffee roasting

Light and dark roasts are as a result of roasting. Roasting is simply the cooking of green coffee beans to drive out the moisture within the beans and coaxed out inner notes of flavor. During roasting, heat is applied carefully purposely to make sure the end product (roasted coffee) tastes better. 

What is light roast?

coffee beans on brown surface

Light roast is coffee that has been cooked slightly. This coffee sees less heat than a dark roast. The beans are normally roasted at lower temperatures, between 256-402 degrees F. Since lightly roasted beans only cook for less time; more moisture is left inside the beans, making then denser. Denser beans will give you more brightness and more caffeine for every cup you grab.

Tip: light roast coffee is also commonly referred to as half city, cinnamon roast, and light city. 

What is dark roast

stack of coffee beans on person's hand

Dark roasted beans are cooked for a longer time at higher temperatures, around 464-482 degrees F. If temperatures are allowed to go past 482, roasts burn and ruin the good flavor. Dark roasts lose more moisture, making them less caffeinated, dense, and oilier.

What about medium roast?

Medium roast falls between light and dark roast. Many coffee lovers prefer medium roasts as they provide a perfect balance of flavor, acidity, and more. So, if not a fan of either light or dark roasts, medium roasts will not disappoint you.

Light roast vs. dark roast: The key difference

different types of coffee beans roast

Now let’s focus on the main differences so that you can actually know which roast to budget for.

Body and complexity

The body simply refers to the physical appearance of the bean. That is its heaviness, texture, and its general mouthfeel. Light roasts are normally lighter in body and brighter in color. This is because they are roasted for a short period.

Dark roasts, on the other hand, have a bold, robust flavor and deeper in color. They have more body because of the caramelized sugar from the beans, which builds up slowly during the long roasting process. Many people love dark roasts because the deeper, thicker body makes it more savory to sip on.


We have seen more sugar caramelize when coffee beans are roasted longer, resulting in a coffee flavor that people enjoy. Now, since light roasts are roasted for less time, they preserve much of the original coffee-bean flavor. That means they are a great reflection of the different origins of where coffee is grown and the quality of coffee as well. This can explain why most roasters prefer lighter roasts-so they can measure the quality of the coffee.

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On the other hand, dark roasts have a smokier, chocolatey flavor and a bitter taste. Unlike light roasts that preserve most of the unique flavors from the origin of the beans, in dark roast, a huge fraction of them is lost. The flavor of the roast overshadows them.


Light roasts are more acidic as the shorter roast time is not sufficient to allow the compounds in the beans to break down easily. Higher acidity makes your brew more delicious, but if you have a sensitive stomach, you may want to be careful.

Dark roasts are less acidic and suitable for individuals who are sensitive to high levels of acids. So, if craving coffee that will not hurt your stomach, buy dark roast coffee.

Caffeine content 

Roasting time has an impact on the amount of caffeine your coffee will have. Lighter roasts have more caffeine content, thanks to the shorter roasting time. On the other hand, dark roasts have less caffeine because of the longer roasting time. Most caffeine is cooked during roasting. 

Roasting at home

coffee roasting

It is possible to roast coffee in the comfort of your home, but you should be ready to brace the longer process. While you can prepare both (light and dark roasts), it is much easier to roast light roasts because they require less temperature and time. 

Check out our best coffee roasters you can buy for your home.

You can as well prepare dark roasts, but you must be keen to get the best results. Otherwise, if you don’t monitor the beans closely, you will burn them, and the final brew won’t be fun to drink. 

Wrap up

Roasting time does greatly impact coffee flavor, and as you can see, there are many coffee options for you in the market to choose from. We hope now you can choose more precisely because you know more about the different types of roasts.

Need additional help? Let us know in the comment section below!

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