Dark roast coffee is one of the most popular kinds of coffee in America, and for good reason! It’s got that quintessential aroma and deep, dark roasted flavor that people associate with coffee.
But what makes dark roast taste so bold? And why are the beans so dark? We’ll answer those questions and more today. So if you’ve ever wondered how dark roast coffee gets its strong, smoky flavor and deep, dark color, keep on reading!
How Does Dark Roast Coffee Get its Color?
Did you know that coffee beans are actually green before they’re roasted It’s the roasting process, and something called the Maillard reaction, that turns them brown. Comment below if you knew this already or if it’s something new that you now know of!
In the very beginning of the roasting process, the chlorophyll in the beans to break down, which causes their green color to fade. Then the Maillard reaction kicks in. It’s a reaction between the sugars and amino acids in the coffee beans. It causes them to become a nice, toasty brown color.
The longer you roast the beans, the more this reaction progresses, and the darker the coffee beans become.
Why is Dark Roast Coffee Stronger than Other Roasts?
If you’ve ever had dark roast coffee, then you know that it’s stronger and more bitter than other roasts. But why?
It all comes down to the roasting process. Coffee beans that are roasted for a long time develop strong, smoky flavors because they’re actually starting to burn! Coffee beans will become ashy, black and burnt if you roast them for long enough. But dark roasts that are pulled out at the right time have a pleasant smokiness with hints of chocolate, tobacco and other roasty flavors.
Dark roasts can also take on bitter flavors because of the way that the sugars in coffee beans react to heat. When the sugars in coffee beans are heated, they start to caramelize, which is why medium roasted coffee has hints of sweetness and caramel.
But heat those sugars for too long, and they’ll start to burn and break down into carbon, producing the bitter flavors that you can sometimes taste in dark roasted coffee. High quality dark roasts, that are properly roasted, only have a slight bitterness that you probably won’t even notice, so don’t let that stop you from trying them!
Our favorite dark roast coffee from Lavazza, for example, is roasted just long enough to take on some bold, smoky flavors white retaining those sweet, caramel notes that medium roast coffee is known for. Lavazza doesn’t burn their coffee to a crisp, like some other brands do, so it’s not bitter and has lots of nuanced flavors. You’ll taste a subtle spiciness and hints of chocolate and caramel in your cup.
Other Properties of Dark Roast
Dark roasted coffee beans aren’t just darker in color and smokier than other roasts—they’re also lower in caffeine and less acidic. They also have a fuller body than lighter roasts.
The roasting process causes some of the caffeine in the coffee beans to turn into a gas. Beans that are roasted for longer reach higher internal temperatures, causing more of their caffeine to turn to gas.
Many people think that dark roasts have a high caffeine content because of their robust aroma and bold flavor, but lighter roasts actually have more caffeine because they’re roasted for less time. Weird, right?
Dark roasts may have less caffeine, but they do have some advantages over light roasts. Dark roasts are easier on the stomach because they’re less acidic, which is a big plus if you have stomach problems or heartburn. They also have a chemical that prevents your stomach from producing too much hydrochloric acid, which can reduce your chances of getting an upset tummy after drinking a cup.
Another plus is that dark roasts have a fuller body than light roasts. Light roasts are pretty thin and have a mouthfeel that’s similar to tea. Dark roasts have a richer mouthfeel because the coffee beans are roasted for a longer period of time, which brings more of their oils to the surface. Those oils will increase the thickness of your coffee, so if you like a cup of coffee with some substance, you’ll love dark roasts!
Drawbacks of Dark Roasted Coffee
Dark roasted coffee only has one drawback, and that’s flavor.
Some people love the rich, smoky flavor that dark roasts have, but other people would rather taste more of the natural flavor of the coffee beans. The smoky flavor that dark roasted beans take on during the roasting process obscures a lot of the original flavor of the beans. There isn’t quite as much subtle, nuanced flavor in a cup of dark roast as there is in a mug of light roasted coffee.
Luckily, you don’t have to choose—you can keep light and dark coffee beans on hand and enjoy both of their unique flavor profiles!