Light Roast vs. Dark Roast - What Is The Difference?

By Joe Maldonado

Whether you are a coffee connoisseur of just a casual coffee drinker, you might find yourself asking the question: What is the difference between light roast and dark roast?

Coffee can be classified as either light roast or dark roast, with variations in between. Today most of the coffee available for home consumers is a dark roast coffee. By reading ads and watching coffee commercials, one can easily believe that the dark roast is a superior coffee. When it comes to the roast of your coffee, a great deal of it simply has to do with personal taste. You shouldn't necessarily rely on mass marketing to determine whether dark roast is the ultimate expression of quality coffee.

There are reasons for the popularity of dark roast. The coffee industry itself is very widespread. After oil, coffee is the second most-highly traded commodity. Just think about the extremely large volume of coffee that hits the consuming market every year. Only 10% of that coffee can be considered as high quality. The 90% remaining coffee is sometimes considered to be between average and poor. This basically means that there is nothing very remarkable about it! No inherent flavors that make it differ from any other coffee, just average regular coffee.

If there are intriguing flavors, they aren't usually desirable. A typical low-grown robust coffee can taste medicinal, even rubbery. So if a large number of coffee that is grown is of mediocre quality, then why do people feel so content to consume a large amount of it each and every day? The answer is ubiquitous dark roast, with a large amount of cream and sugar. Many coffee drinkers end up choosing this option.

The terms dark roast and light roast simply refer to how long the coffee has been roasted. Light roast coffees have more subtle flavors and are usually more acidic. Roasting breaks down caffeine, so contrary to what many people believe dark roasts have less caffeine than light roasts. Each type of roast has its own name amongst coffee connoisseurs. City roast is the lightest roast, American roast is medium, and the darkest roasts are called dark roast. There are many other names and variations of the different roasts, but they are all on the same spectrum of coffee roasting from light to dark. It doesn't matter what type of roast you like, at some point you will probably break a coffee carafe and be in the market for a new one.

A large number of commercial appeal and mass marketing has presented dark roasted coffee as best in choice and also in quality. Dark roasted coffee is much more popular, especially when you consider that the coffee industry the second largest exporter after oil. A dark roast is made of coffee beans roasted at a high temperature for a long period of time. It causes many flavor molecules to burn away within the beans. This is both good and bad, because bad flavors can be burned away in the roasting process, but that can include good flavors as well. When a coffee is roasted very dark, it is difficult for the drinker to tell whether it is made from good or bad quality beans, because it has a smoky and charcoal flavor overall.

A light roasted coffee is roasted for a short time. It has many flavor characteristics that are grown in. Many of these flavors may include those influenced by soil and weather. Some major examples of light roasted coffee beans are Kona and Java. Light roasts are especially good for those coffee drinkers who want more specific characteristics and flavors within their brew. These are some basic differences and characteristics of dark roast and light roast coffees.

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