Fact or Myth: Does Dark Roast Coffee Have More Caffeine?


For those of us who love coffee, we love it for its flavor. We will drink a dark over a light or a light over a dark, based on what we prefer to get from the notes that come from those techniques.

Now what happens when we put flavor aside?

It’s time to consider the caffeine content of different coffee roasts (bare with me). There’s this common idea that dark roast contains more caffeine–it only makes sense that the darker beans would be more densely packed with caffeine… right? Well we are here to explain whether that idea hold true and why (or why not). We have a few things to consider before we get to the answers.

 Before we begin here’s a little something for our awesome readers! This post is sponsored by AmazonFresh! Enjoy unlimited grocery shipping for only $14.99/mo! Sign up for a FREE trial here— exclusively for our Coffee Sesh Community. Imagine getting some coffee beans shipped to you in 2 days!

What Does Roasting Mean Anyway?

To get coffee beans to look like the familiar brown beans that can be bought in most grocery stores or coffee shops, it has to be roasted. This is the process of heating the beans to temperatures higher than 400º Fahrenheit. Talk about heat!

From there the Maillard Reaction takes place, and the rich flavors, that we are more familiar with, are brought out in the heating process. Different temperatures result in the more widely known roast options: lightmedium, and dark.

What is Light Roast Coffee?

Light roast coffee is going to be heated between the 356-401° Fahrenheit window. That allows for more of the natural moisture of the bean to stay within it, leaving it denser (take note of that!). This leads to a “thinner” body and more acidic flavors, often presenting themselves in fruity notes. A few other names for light roasts are light city, half city, and cinnamon roast. Take a more in-depth look at light roast coffee with this Coffee Sesh article, we explain all the differences for you in one spot!

What is Medium Roast Coffee?

Like the name suggests, the temperature for achieving a medium roast are going to sit right in the middle of the range–that being between 410 and 428°Fahrenheit.

The sugars inside the bean have begun to caramelize more without creating an overwhelmingly deep body. Take a look at these medium roasts for a taste test, and keep an eye out for the typical acidic, fruity, and caramel-y notes. If you’re ready to try some right now, we suggest trying this medium roast coffee!

What is Dark Roast Coffee?

Opposite to the light roast, dark roast is not as dense, due to the loss of moisture during the heating process. This means a thicker body and bolder, nutty notes. The temperatures to achieve dark roasts typically do not exceed 482º Fahrenheit, but they get close. As hot as our fresh coffee seems, it’s nothing compared to the roasting heat! Those high temperatures assist in how caffeinated the dark roast beans are. For a look at our recommended dark roast coffee picks, head over to this article.

How Much Caffeine is in Dark Roast Coffee Compared to Other Roasts

To put it simply, dark roast coffees are going to have less caffeine that light roast coffees. That’s the opposite of the what you were thinking right?

Dark roasts have the flavors that it has due to the higher temperatures that it takes to roast them, but that very roasting process causes “more of their caffeine to turn to gas”. These higher roast temperatures cause a reaction within the bean to give it that darker color. This results in less dense of a bean for a dark roast. Looks are completely deceiving in that case.

On the opposite end of things, light roasts are more likely to have a higher caffeine content because they are able to remain dense. Check out some additional content about dark roast with this article.

So… Only Light Roasts from Here on Out? 

I am not suggesting that you throw away all of your dark roasts in order to get the most caffeine kick, that might just actually be a tragedy, because even then the difference is not incredibly large— see what we mean in our article Light Roast vs Dark Roast Coffee. It is even possible that when weighing out coffee, the caffeine content could be the same depending on how the beans fall. Even two cups of dark roast may end up varying in the exact caffeine content. Weighing your coffee is essential for every technique of brewing, but it’s not going to help you change the caffeine content of your coffee.

Dark roasts, like this one from Koffee Kult, will still have that strongdeep flavor that cannot be reached by the lighter roasting temperatures of light roasts. That’s what makes it so popular! More oils are brought to the surface for dark roasts, giving a stronger thickness to your coffee to make for more of a hearty cup. Is that worth it? That’s up to you!

A number of other factors are going to affect the caffeine content of your coffee, including water temperature, brewing technique, and the coffee brand. It might also be more worth your time to invest in arabica beans, which have about twice as much caffeine as robusta beans. Read about it in our article Arabica Beans vs Robusta Beans!

What do you think? Have you learned something new? Maybe you’re Let us know!

Thanks for reading our newest article on whether dark roast coffee has more caffeine. Be sure to catch up on some more coffee content with our additional articles like How Many Calories are in a Cup of Coffee, or What is Siphon Coffee.

Oh! Don’t forget, be sure to share and join our coffee community by following @coffeesesh on Instagram, there are over 80K people who enjoy coffee here. Want to learn more about making coffee from people just like you? Be sure to join our private Facebook group here at Daily Coffee Talk. You’ll be able to learn how to brew, how to roast and most importantly how to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee!

We’ll brew ya later! ☕️

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