Searching for a few useful tips on how to choose the right coffee roast level for your lifestyle? You’ve reached the right place. Lots of us enjoy coffee, but we might not put much thought into the specific qualities of the beans we choose. It’s easy to be blinded by brand loyalty or swayed by marketing materials, which could leave you lumbered with coffee that isn’t ideal.
One major consideration which is frequently overlooked is that of roast level. This is a shame, as it can make a big difference, and knowing more will let you match the coffee you drink to the lifestyle you lead.
So whether you are buying coffee for yourself, or you need to find what you are looking for when buying gifts for a friend or family member who is a coffee lover, this brief guide to selecting the right roast level will be incredibly helpful.
The roasting process explained
Roasting coffee beans is an essential part of the process of turning them into usable grounds from which the world’s favorite beverage is made.
The longer you roast the beans, the darker the color they take on, and the more bitter the flavor they produce when brewed.
In this context, coffee brands use ‘strength’ to refer to the strength of the flavor, so darker roasts are considered higher strength, while lighter roasts are lower strength.
Where this gets confusing and even misleading is that strength of flavor has nothing to do with caffeine content. Frustrating, right?
Choosing Your Coffee Roast Level: Light Roast vs Dark Roast
When it comes to the long-standing battle of light roast vs dark roast coffee, the real winner is entirely down to personal preference. You’ll need to choose your coffee roast level according to your taste and lifestyle.
If you love the bold, big-hitting bitterness of dark roast, don’t be shy to add this to your shopping basket. If you prefer the mellower notes of light roast varieties, this is all well and good as well.
Don’t choose a darker roast just to impress people and prove how ‘into’ coffee you are; real coffee lovers can appreciate all points on the flavor spectrum.
What does make a difference is the aforementioned matter of caffeine content. Counter-intuitively, darker roast coffee which is considered stronger in terms of flavor will actually contain less caffeine than lighter roasts.
This all comes down to how the roasting process impacts the chemical properties of the beans. Roast them for longer, and more of the caffeine they contain is destroyed.
So, from a lifestyle perspective, if you want a coffee variety that will give you the maximum amount of focus-boosting, fat-burning caffeine, then a light or medium roast bean will be best. Meanwhile, if you want less caffeine without going full-blown decaf, a dark roast coffee should be on your watch list.
The question of quality
One final thing to note in the question of light roast vs dark roast coffee is that you will be more likely to find medium and dark roast beans on the shelves of mainstream stores, with lighter roasts far less ubiquitous.
There are a few reasons for this, the main one being that darker roasts have a longer lifespan, and so can be more profitable for retailers.
Furthermore, if the beans themselves are not especially high in quality, then roasting them for longer can hide imperfections, as bitterness will be the overriding flavor.
It is worth reiterating that there is no ‘right’ coffee for everyone, and that you should follow the guidance of your taste buds and your nose when choosing a brew to enjoy. That said, it does pay to invest a little more in high-quality coffees from smaller producers, rather than settling for the big name brands.
Tiara Budd lives in New York and is determined to eat (and Instagram!) her way through the city. In her free time she loves exploring new neighborhoods, reading books from the library, and traveling all around the country.