Dark and Light Roasts- the real difference

by St. Johns Coffee

I’ve always been a firm believer that brewing a large dark roast cup of coffee would wake me up best in the morning. I was one of those “If it’s not dark then it’s not coffee” types of people. However, what I failed to realize was the truth behind different roasts of coffee, and how you might change your mind about the type of roast you will have tomorrow morning.

Roast degree is the number one misunderstood concept when it comes to coffee. There is so much more transformation that goes on between the light and dark roasting process, and this is where the art of the roaster comes into play.

So what is a light roast?

In a light roast coffee, the difference between origins such as our Guatemala Finca Bourbon and Ethiopian Sidamo is most distinct. At this point in the roasting process, the bean has the highest acidity and brightness of flavor, as well as the most caffeine- contrary to popular belief!

As you approach the medium roast, the bean begins to transform into a less acidic and richer body version of itself. Here you will see a decrease in origin distinction and notes in the distinct natural notes of the bean. A medium roast will usually offer a nice combination of acidity and fullness of flavor. This is especially true of our Bolivian Peaberry coffee.

When the bean continues on to the dark side of the roasting process, it starts losing most of its origin distinction. The darker roast will be the least acidic, relying mostly on the roasting process than on the beans themselves. It will have the fullest amount of body at this point, and will have the least caffeine.

Your roaster at St. Johns Coffee is talented enough to be able to achieve a full-bodied flavor from a bean without roasting it too dark. This is why most of our most popular coffees are medium roasts, such as Brazil Nossa Fatima and the Mexican Altura roast. We believe in preserving the natural flavor notes of the beans while maintaining a full flavor and body of the coffee. It also helps to know that the darker the bean does not mean the more buzzed you will be- as the caffeine levels drop as a roast gets darker. *surprise surprise!*

We love serving origin-specific coffees such as the Sumatra Mandheling, made from the beans from a single farm, because in this way the coffee maintains its pure wonderful flavor. The roast then highlights the qualities of the coffee, such as bringing out floral or chocolate notes. Lighter roasts may require some adventurous coffee drinking and skilled roasting but they are definitely worth it.

(•) photo by kuda