What Is Dark Roast Coffee?

Dark roast coffee has a darker shade due to the drawn-out oil that coats the surface of the beans. As a result, it has a smoky texture and bold flavor. But there is some confusion around what exactly makes a roast dark. So, you might be wondering, what is dark roast coffee?

What Is Dark Roast Coffee?

When beans are roasted for longer than light roast or medium roast, they are considered dark roasted. This process gives the beans a dark brown-black color and a full-bodied texture. Additionally, the long roasting time makes for a more bitter flavor with less caffeine.

To understand what makes a dark roast, it is important to understand the basics of the roasting process. Coffee beans all start off as a pale green shade, and then change and shift depending on the roasting process.

Coffee beans roasted on a round wok

Basics of Coffee Roasting

Dark roast coffee requires more heating than light roast coffee. The roasting process lasts for a period longer than 10 minutes. These variations in roasting techniques change the color of coffee beans and let them differ from one another. 

Dark roast and light roast coffees are very different from one another. This is because, with dark roast, the brighter tones of the beans disappear and the original flavors are then overshadowed by the roasting process. This, in turn, adds flavors to the beans. 

While carrying out the roasting process, a lot of chemical changes are implemented on the beans. These changes within the beans are what add an elegant aroma, flavor, and color to the coffee.

Additionally, dark roast coffee beans tend to be oilier. This extra oil causes a flavor that can be bittersweet, chocolaty, or even have a toasty taste.

The Roasting Process

  • For many coffee companies, the roasting process is carried out in large rotating drums. Often the beans undergo a heating process for around 15 minutes or more. There is a need for a specific temperature at which the beans can undergo the roasting process. Even a slight change in the temperature and time might change the results of the final product. 
  • The temperature of roasting can be anywhere between 400 degrees and 540 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • After that, the beans are then set aside for cooling. Interestingly, since all of the moisture is pulled out of the beans, they can be light and puffy.
  • Finally, once fully cooled, the beans will either be packaged as whole beans or they will be ground before packing.

Dark roast beans on black marble tile

Different Blends of Dark Roast Coffee

Unlike light roast coffee, dark roast comes in two different types. Medium-dark roast, and pure dark roast. These two different types of roasts are processed differently, and as such provide very different cups of coffee when brewed.

Here is a breakdown of the two types of dark roast coffee blends, and the unique properties and tastes of each.

Medium-Dark Roast Coffee

The medium-dark roast coffee beans are taken out of the drums after the second crack. The coffee beans that undergo medium-dark roast convert to dark-brown color. They have some form of oil over the surface, but not as much as a full dark roast. 

Also, there’s less of an acidity factor with these types of roasts than lighter ones. So when you prepare a cup of coffee out of medium-dark roast beans, you will find these beans take on some of the roasting process. Instead of being chocolaty, you will find these roasts taste more like caramel. 

In fact, you might also notice some bittersweet tang and smokiness after the preparation of your drink. If you are willing to try coffee with a medium-dark roast, then look for tags such as after-dinner roast, Vienna-roast, and full-city roast, over the coffee packs. 

Pure Dark Roast With Bold Taste

For this roast, the coffee beans are put into the bins, and the heating process continues until the second crack. This process can be a delicate one, since roasting the coffee beans at dark roast temperatures for too long, can start to develop a weird taste. 

The beans will eventually be dark brown or black in color and as the beans have been through the first & second crack, there is some oily texture over them.  Also, the pure dark roast coffee beans tend to have the heaviest of all bodies. And, the acidity is lowest among all of the other coffee roasts. 

In addition to all that, the dark roast coffee beans are bold and rich. You will taste the bitterness, chocolaty taste, smokiness, and toasty taste. Not all dark roast coffees are bitter, and you may find they have a taste of dark chocolate and cherry

If you are willing to go for dark roast coffee, then look for the tags over packages such as Italian roast, French roast, Spanish roast, Continental roast, Espresso roast, etc. 

Standardization of Dark Roast Beans

The standardization aspect is very much nominal when it comes to naming the roast types in association with coffee. Until people read the specifications over a pack, they cannot recognize whether the coffee is dark roast or light roast. 

Therefore, it is important to know what information is contained on the packaging to ensure that people looking for a dark roast don’t end up taking a light roast home. 

Check for the labels over the coffee packs to ensure that you are buying the right roast-type coffee beans that you want. Go for some renowned brands, as local ones might just trick you with false labels of dark roasting.

Dark coffee beans on a table

The Caffeine Amount in Dark Roast Coffee 

In a study, the same amount of light roast and dark roast coffee beans were tested for caffeine measures. The caffeine amount for dark roast coffee is 51 grams, whereas, for light roast coffee, it is 60 grams. 

If you measure it in the form of drinking units, then a 30ml shot of dark roast coffee will have 120mg of caffeine in it. This is because, during the dark roasting process, the coffee beans lose some of their mass. 

So, when you measure the caffeine amount of coffee brewed with dark roast beans, it will always be less than light roast coffee.

Health Benefits of Dark Roast Coffee

A cup of dark roast coffee will not just satisfy your taste buds but will also help you maintain your health. This is because dark roast coffee beans undergo the roasting process for the longest time. 

  • Lowers risk of cancer: Dark roast coffee is a great source of antioxidants. These antioxidants are also the reason for the dark, rich brown color of coffee. Antioxidants are known to fight free radicals that are linked to cancer.  
  • Promote brain health: It’s commonly known that coffee contains caffeine and is an excellent source for that. Caffeine has been associated with lower risks of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and cognitive impairments. 
  • Improve liver health: Your liver is an important part of your body. It helps filter blood, store energy, and produce essential liquids for your digestive system. Coffee is known to keep your liver in a healthy state. Drinking coffee regularly reduces your risk of liver cirrhosis which can lead to liver cancer. It also reduces your risk of liver cancer by up to 40%.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    What Is The Flavor Difference Between Light Roast And Dark Roast Coffee?

    The flavor of light roast coffee is lightly crisp, acidic, floral, fruity, bright, and herbal. But the dark roast coffee tastes bold, smoky, toasty, chocolatey, robust, and nutty. Also, dark roast coffee is quite bitter when compared to light roast coffee. 

    How To Know Which Coffee Roast Is Perfect For Me?

    There are light roast, medium roast, medium-dark roast, and dark roast coffees available to choose from. Although not all brands carry each variation of roast. The flavor varies with every roast, and with experimentation, you will be able to decide what satisfies your taste.

    You will get to know the flavors and essence of each roast to determine what is best for you. By trying different roasts, you will be able to find the perfect option for you. This will help you enjoy every cup of coffee, with the perfect taste you desire. 


    Dark roast coffee is dark due to its long roasting time. It is a favorite of many coffee drinkers as it offers certain flavors and benefits that many people enjoy. A low caffeine rate and the lowest acidity levels are optimal offerings of dark roast coffees. So, put an end to your curiosity, try dark roast coffee, and enjoy!