As coffee fanatics, we all have a specific type of coffee that we prefer over the rest. It could be the latte macchiato specially brewed for you by your favorite barista or the espresso shot that gets you out of bed every morning. Some of us favor a light-colored, creamy cup of Joe while others desire the dark, mysterious black cup of coffee. Either way, we all agree that we love our coffee!
The coffee roasting process does something absolutely magical to coffee beans. There are three different roasting stages that coffee beans go through to produce that awesome cup of goodness that you just can’t resist.
What is Dark Roast Coffee?
Light roast, medium roast, dark roast are all tag phrases that we see on coffee packaging. It sounds pretty straight forward.
Light roast coffees are green coffee beans that have been roasted for a short amount of time. Light roast coffees tend to have more acidity or brightness with fruit-forward, complex herbal flavors.
With dark roast coffees, the beans stay on the roaster for a longer time or at a higher temperature. Dark roasts produce bold, straight forward, single note flavors like caramel or roasted nuts.
Medium roast is exactly that, a nice mix in between light roast and dark roast! And if you want to continue learning some additional knowledge between the three roasts, head over to our article The Best Shade of Coffee for You… after you’re done reading this one of course!
But, now that you know the difference, let’s delve a little further into dark roast coffee.
Roasting coffee extracts the caffeine and the nutrients in the coffee beans. Since lightly roasted beans are on the fire for a short time, they tend to retain more of their natural state, including the amount of caffeine. Dark roasted beans actually have less caffeine, because the more the beans remain on the fire, the more caffeine evaporates.
The Life of a Dark Roast Coffee Bean
The best coffee in the world is grown along the bean belt, which is the Equatorial zone of the earth, relatively 20 North and 30 South of the equator. Countries known to produce great dark roast coffees include Mexico, Colombia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Indonesia.
3 – 4 years after planting seeds, the coffee plant will bear fruit called the coffee berry that is bright, deep red color when ready for harvesting. These cherries are either picked by hand or with a machine and taken for processing in one of the following two ways:
The Dry Method
The dry method has been used for centuries. The coffee cherries are spread out on large surfaces to dry in the sun. The cherries are raked several times during the day to keep exposing more surface area of the cherry to the sun and are covered at night to protect them from getting wet. The process goes on for several weeks until the moisture content of the bean drops to 11%.
The Wet Method
With the wet method, the cherries go through a pulping machine after being picked to separate the skin from the pulp. The cherries then pass through water channels where they are separated by weight, with lighter beans floating to the surface. The cherries are then put into fermentation tanks for 12 – 48 hours. They are then rinsed and ready to be sun-dried or machine dried until they reach a moisture content of 11%.
Depending on the method used, the beans are then hulled and polished and packed into sisal bags, ready for exportation. At this stage, they are soft, spongy and smell like grass. They stop being coffee cherries and are now referred to as green coffee beans, all set to be analyzed to separate the best beans for the best roasting process.
What Happens During Dark Roasts?
Green coffee beans are placed on a coffee roaster where they are roasted to 430F (221C) and higher, long enough to extract the coffee oils and nutrients. The hotter the grill gets, the sugars in the coffee move from caramelization to carbonization stages, while the taste and aroma progress from bright to mellow. A white, odorless, crystal compound, called acrylamide, is released by the beans and covers the outer surface. Roasting coffee reduces the acidity and caffeine in the bean, giving the beans a strong, smoky flavor and an intense, full-bodied, bold taste.
Benefits of Drinking Dark Roast Coffee
The National Coffee Association found that 52% of American coffee consumers prefer dark roast coffee to light roast. There are some benefits that have been associated with drinking dark roast coffee.
According to research in Molecular Nutrition and Food, dark roast coffees are more successful in restoring red blood cells, glutathione and are a good source of vitamin E. The study also noticed increased body weight reduction in pre-obese volunteers after 6 months of the study.
Dark roast coffees contain more phenylindanes, which have been linked with neuroprotective effects on the brain. Dark roasted coffee also produces more N-methylpiridinium that prevents the stomach cells from producing excess acids, lowering the chance of stomach irritation that may occur after drinking light roast coffees.
Shopping for Dark Roast Coffee
When the green beans are roasted, they start to lose their density. This might explain why the weight of a 1kg bag of light roast coffee will not feel the same as that of a 1kg dark roast coffee. It takes more dark roast beans to fill 1kg bag as compared to light roast beans.
Dark roast coffee beans should be ground and drank as soon as they are roasted. A heavily roasted coffee will age faster than a lightly roasted coffee. When buying from the supermarket, check the roast date and try to get the pack with the most recent date. Dark roasted coffees with no roasting date are a sign of dubiousness. When looking for a big packet to last some time, the freshness of a medium-dark roast will last longer than that of a dry roast.
Best Dark Roast Coffee for a French Press
Although buying ground beans for your French Press may be ideal, it is recommended that you grind your coffee beans before using. This is because beans that are already ground tend to be too fine and easily pass through the mesh filter, leaving you with a gritty cup of Joe.
To get the best flavor from a French Press, you need medium to course ground beans for effective flavor extraction and maximum carbon dioxide release.
Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans have been deemed as being the holy grail of dark roasts, providing 100% Arabica beans that are GMO-free, sourced from Sumatra, Colombia, and Guatemala. The company is based in Hollywood, Florida where the beans are hand-roasted in small batches before packing. This dark roast has a smooth finish and sends off bold flavor profiles of cinnamon and cocoa.
Best Dark Roast Coffee for Espresso
During those hard moments of the day, a good shot of espresso can lift you up, spin you around and put you back down with a smile on your face. For a classic Italian espresso, we recommend Café Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee. This 100% Arabica coffee is originally sourced from Colombia and blended with Sumatran Mandheling beans grown on rich volcanic soils. The result is a deep, rich flavor profile with a light fluffy crema layer. Brew yours today in this espresso machine!
Best Dark Roast Coffee for Cold Brews
Nothing says cold brew like Peet’s Baridi Cold Brew Blend. Baridi is the Swahili word for cold, which is synonymous with the East African regions of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda where the beans are originally from. Roasted to order, their signature dark roast blends have fruity, floral notes with a clean finish.
Dark Roast Coffee for Drip Machines
The Pelican Rouge Barista Coffee Blend promises twice the flavor and richness of combined Arabica and Robusta whole beans. This dark roast coffee has nutty and caramel notes from the Arabica beans and a spicy kick from the Robusta beans. The balanced blend makes for strong, barista-quality coffee that may have a bitter aftertaste for some.
Best Dark Roast Coffee for Stove Tops
Also called the Moka Pot or Cowboy Coffee, stovetops have been creating great coffee since the 1930s. Finely ground coffee beans are placed in a little basket with a filter and water is placed at the bottom of the pot. The pot is then placed on a stovetop where steam produced from the boiling water transforms the coffee grounds into a heavenly cup of Joe or shot of espresso.
The Sulawesi Kalossi Whole Bean Coffee has been praised for being a perfect match for stove tops. The beans are sourced from the high altitude areas of Sulawesi in Indonesia and have a heavy body with traces of herbs and nuts. The low acidity of the beans creates a refreshing aroma when brewing on stovetops.
Being so versatile, are you going to try dark roast coffee with your favorite brewing method now? We sure are!