Dark Roast Coffee Beans vs Medium Roasted Coffee Beans

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When the coffee is labeled dark roast coffee or medium roast coffee what are the differences in how they are made and how the coffee results? The same goes for light roast beans.
 

mivox

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Mar 10, 2003
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Well, dark roast is really dark, medium is not-so-dark, and light isn't very dark at all. :p hehehe

But flavor wise, the dark roast beans tend to have a stronger, harsher flavor than a medium or light roast... If you like really dark, strong coffee, or you like making espresso, a dark roast is the way to go. I like French Roast myself... I think most coffee labeled "espresso roast" is a little too 'burnt' tasting for me. Medium or light roasts would be good for someone who wants a mellower/milder cup of coffee...

Oh... and the different 'colors' are just determined by how long the coffee is roasted for. The longer the roasting, the darker the color. If you want to be a REAL coffee geek (even I haven't gone this far), you can buy 'raw' beans and get a home roasting machine, or roast beans in your oven. Then you could try a different roast every day of the week! hehehe
 

notmuffy

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Mar 25, 2003
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New Jersey
Thanks Mivox, "burnt" was just the word I was looking for to describe very dark coffee!

I have tried all different roasts and blends, and I must say I liked a bag I bought in Frankfurt, Germany the best. It was just "regular roast", but it had a full, almost cocoa-ish flavour. It was a lot different than Sainsbury's Regular Roast (local grocery chain) :p So I guess my point is that it seems to be up to the company what constitutes a label of dark or medium roast.
 

haldir

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Mar 26, 2003
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Another thing I read that I found surprising the darker coffees have less caffeine than medium roasts.
 

CoffeeLover

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Mar 7, 2003
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Coffee Shop
Darker Coffees = Less Caffeine?

Would that be because of the fact its taken to a higher level of time for preperation in the coffee ovens drying them out? Thus more of it burning? Hmmm I'd like to know more about the beans + caffeine levels.
 

PapaDaniel

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Apr 16, 2003
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Phoenix, AZ, USA
Coffee Roasts

The darker coffee is roasted then more moisture content that is lost (hense the oils on the surface of the coffee) and caffeine is also chemically broken down and lost with that moisture content.

Dark roast coffees do not necessarily equate to burned coffee, in fact, when I roast espresso beans, they are dark but only roasted about 10 degrees hotter than my standard drip coffee blends and for a slightly longer time. I personally do not care for french roast coffee but do love a dark(er) roasted espresso with oils on the surface.

As a note, espresso only contains about 45% of the caffeine of regular drip coffee partly because of the roasting method and partly because of the quick brewing method that does not allow for the caffeine to be extracted as thoroughly as with drip brew.

As far as labels of Dark, Medium and Light roasted, there are some very vague standards. With coffee roasting there are two phases that coffee goes through typically referred to 1st and 2nd crack which are physical sounds the coffee makes as it is going through first an endothermic process then second an exothermic.

Coffee is palatably anytime after first crack and well after 2nd crack. When I label coffee "light roasted" I mean just before 2nd crack starts. Regular Roasts for our coffee roastery is just past 2nd crack by about 1-3 minutes and just before the oils begin to show during the roasting. A dark roast will be oils present on some of the beans during roasting that will translate to a completely glossy and partially oily bean.

Espresso roasts are typically a little darker with the bean completely oily but still chocolately brown. Charbroiled is not good in our "house."

Hope this helps from a roasters perspective.

Papa
 

notmuffy

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Mar 25, 2003
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New Jersey
How does one roast beans in Pheonix? Just lay them on the hood of the car? LOL

just kidding you know... Anyway it was great to hear your perspective! I don't know about others but I never thought about the process that much, and actually sorta thought that "darK' versus "light" roasts were just the same beans sorted into color.

You know, they rain down from heaven into my cup everymorning LOL :lol:
 

Just Java

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May 14, 2003
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Hong Kong
I use a 15kg roaster and find the difference betweena light, medium and dark roast is just a matter of seconds in roast time. PapaDaniel - you say you roast for 1-3 minutes beyond the second crack. I'm curious to know what size roaster you use, as if i go into the second crack for more than say 15 seconds I'm at French Roast.
BTW espresso shouldn't be too dark - it will end up tasting burnt in the cup unless you really turn down the temperature in you espresso machine.
 

Bill Ahlman

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Jul 7, 2003
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Grapevine, Texas
TRY THIS DARK ROAST COFFEE!

Try Calistoga Coffee Company.. Their Country French is wonderful. They also have an espresso that tastes WONDERFUL even as a regular brewed coffee. AND, Terry and Clive, the owners are really neat people to talk to. Call them, ask them to call you back and visit with you about their coffee. They will call you and talk coffee all day! THEIR PHONE NUMBER is easy to remember:
1-800 TRY JAVA

Bill Ahlman
billahlman@juno.com
 
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Roast levels

Light Roast
This roast emphasizes the specific characteristics of coffee, unique of the zone: body and acidity. The result is a coffee of perfect balance, a drink with great body that is reflected in the taste of the most exigent taster, who pleases of an excellent flavor.
The roasted whole bean is compact and hard, and has a discreet fragrance. The aroma that presents is sweet and light.
The light roast emphasizes a very concentrated and pronounced taste, making the true characteristics of an excellent Gourmet coffee stand out.
This roast, due to its characteristics, presents a light color in the cup, and a concentrated and exquisite taste to coffee.

Medium Roast
The medium roast produces a cup with great acidity. The process of further roasting generates a diminution in solids, resulting in a less dense drink, due to the greater roast that generates lighter and cleaner body in coffee.
The whole bean is less hard than light roast, with a stronger fragrance. Its volume in bean increases in a 10% in relation to light roast. Its aroma is much sweeter and more exquisite. The flavor is recognized, praised and felt by the most exigent and pure taste of a taster Gourmet.

Dark Roast
The dark roast, also known as the Espresso or Italian type, presents a very pleasant and strong fragrance producing a “sensationalâ€
 

Mikeftrevino

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Jul 31, 2003
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Tucson, AZ
I'm surprised, Oscar, that you would use the term Espresso when describing a type of roast. The degree of roasts for espresso change according to taste. I've roasted to just past second crack when the oil beads a little on the surface on some blends and the crema and taste was extraordinary. I do admit there is a range ideal for espresso, there is no one point in the range that is best.

Also, to say that a Dark roast is only good for espresso is not correct. A dark roast can add body to an otherwise thin cup of coffee.

We need to stress diversity in taste for coffee and it's roasts here in the USA. Us yanks have relinquished ourselves to a weak stale cup for far too long. So long in fact, that most yanks taste a real fresh,properly made cup of coffee and wonder what's wrong with it. When we, as professionals, pidgeon hole roasts and beans, the public follows suit and thinks that's how it should always be, thus cutting themselves off from another world of taste.
 

notmuffy

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Mar 25, 2003
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New Jersey
Mikeftrevino said:
We need to stress diversity in taste for coffee and it's roasts here in the USA. Us yanks have relinquished ourselves to a weak stale cup for far too long. So long in fact, that most yanks taste a real fresh,properly made cup of coffee and wonder what's wrong with it. When we, as professionals, pidgeon hole roasts and beans, the public follows suit and thinks that's how it should always be, thus cutting themselves off from another world of taste.

Yes! Down with Truck-Stop-Coffee! Blech!!!!
I am not a professional roaster, but I AM a professional drinker! LOL
 

JON SALLINGER

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Oct 5, 2006
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SEATTLE
haldir said:
Another thing I read that I found surprising the darker coffees have less caffeine than medium roasts.
YES THEY DO HAVE MORE THAN REGULAR ROASTS BUT I ACTUALLY HEARD THIS WHILE I WAS ON VACATION IN PUERTO VALLARTA MEXICO IT IS ACTUALLY A WEIRD STORY i WAS OUT DEEP SEA FISHING WITH WWW.PUERTOVALLARTAFISH.COM WHEN THE CAPTAIN OF THE BOAT TOLD ME ALL ABOUT IT HE WAS RAISED COLUMBIA AND MY GOD THIS MAN KNOW MORE ABOUT COFFEE THEN ANY ONE i HAD EVER MET
 

NW JAVA

New member
really

Hmm, maybe ask Mr Steve Diedrich, about caffene stability in heat....So far as I know heat esp the low heat coffee is roasted at doesn't affect caffine content. I asked this very question during a roasing class.

see:
Pasted from:http://www.roastmagazine.com/backissues/janfeb2005/caffeinecontrol.html
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Roast Level



Beyond selection of the green beans, the roaster is commonly thought to control one more variable in the final caffeine content of the beans: the roast level. Popular lore has always been that the darker the roast level, the lower the caffeine content. This is not really the case, as caffeine changes very little during the roasting process. Caffeine has a very stable crystalline structure with a boiling point above 600 degrees Fahrenheit, far above roasting temperatures, which rarely exceed 470 degrees Fahrenheit. This means there is very little change to the caffeine during the roasting process. The minimal amount of caffeine lost during roasting is attributable to sublimation, which is the transition of a substance directly from its solid state to its gaseous state, as commonly occurs with dry ice. Caffeine undergoes this transition at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Since coffee is roasted at temperatures above 350 degrees, a minimal amount of the caffeine is lost this way during the roasting process.
Although minimal caffeine is driven off or destroyed in the roasting process, the bean undergoes major changes during roasting. This can confuse the situation because the caffeine content per weight and per volume changes—not because the caffeine changes, but because the size and the weight of the bean changes. Ironically, because the bean loses weight (mostly water) during roasting, the caffeine content by weight increases, but because the bean increases in size during the roasting, the caffeine content by volume decreases.
It is fortunate that there are no requirements to label caffeine content on packages of roasted beans. So many variables contribute to the caffeine content of a single origin at a defined roast level that it is nearly impossible to predict the content without decaffeinating the bean and measuring the amount extracted. Now take differing cultivars from multiple farms and multiple countries, throw in a little robusta for an espresso blend, and you might need to put on another pot of coffee and call an organic chemist.



SPECIAL THANKS to Ted Lingle and Joseph Rivera of the Specialty Coffee Association of America for their contributions to this article and to Gene Spiller, author of Caffeine.



JIM FADDEN is a mechanical engineer and frequent contributor to Roast Magazine.
He can be reached at jim@roastmagazine.com.
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So, before making any statment do due research....

MY$.02
 

ElPugDiablo

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Jul 16, 2004
991
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Hartford and New Haven, CT
light, medium and dark roast are subjective terms. Starbucks' lightest roast is darker than some people's darkest roasts. Some in the industry are starting to put Agtron number, a sort of industry standard for lightness and darkness, on their bags - those who can afford an Agtron machine that is.
 
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