Everything Coffee

Different Roasts of Coffee and Their Effect On Taste and Caffeine

Someone recently asked about the difference between light roast and dark roast coffee.  So, I did a bit of research and found out some interesting things that many people may not know, myself included.  While I absolutely love coffee, I more so love tasting different kinds, without really knowing or caring about the hardcore facts behind how coffee beans are made.

Here’s what I learned about my favorite drink:

First, a coffee bean does not come off of the plant in that sweet smelling, brown looking way that we know.  In fact, it is green and smells like grass before it is placed in a large pot to be roasted for a certain amount of time to a certain temperature.

The roasting process causes the green beans to turn into either a light brown color, a medium color, a medium-dark color, or finally, a dark roasted color.

As the beans are roasted longer and in higher temperatures, they lose acidity and they lose the amount of caffeine they originally had before the roasting process.

Therefore, the lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine.

Also, when the coffee beans are roasted at a higher temperature, they have a more bold flavor from the roasting process.


  • Reaches an internal temperature of 365-401 degrees.
  • Has no oil on the surface
  • Is acidic and has a grainy flavor
  • Contains most of its caffeine (good to drink in the morning!)
  • Is light brown in color
  • The original flavors of the bean are retained more than darker roasts


  • Reaches an internal temperature between 410-428 degrees
  • Has no oil on the surface
  • Grainy taste is gone and a more balanced aroma arrives
  • Caffeine is decreased
  • Is medium brown in color


  • Reaches an internal temperature between 437 and 446 degrees
  • Oil begins to appear on the surface of the bean
  • Has a heavier body as compared to the light and medium roasts
  • The aroma and coffee flavor becomes much more noticeable
  • Coffee MAY become spicy
  • Has a slightly darker brown color than the medium roast
  • More caffeine is lost with the higher temperatures


  • Roasted to an internal temperature of at least 464 degrees, but rarely higher than 482 degrees
  • Dark brown in color and are sometimes black
  • Has an oily surface
  • Caffeine is greatly decreased (better to drink this roast in the evening!)
  • Has a substantial bold flavor, completely lost its original bean flavor

In sum:

  • The darker the roast of the bean, the less caffeine the bean contains.
  • The darker the roast of the bean, the more roasted flavor it has (is bold in flavor)
  • The darker the roast of the bean, the more oil that appears on the surface
  • Lighter roasts contain more caffeine and are more acidic/grainy in taste (retain that original bean flavor-hasn’t succumbed to the roasting process yet!)


NOTE: This information was found from two great websites if you want to learn even more about coffee! Here is one and here is the other.



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