Dark roasts undergo longest heat. The roasting process is stopped at second crack, and the beans are dark enough to look like chocolate and are covered by an oily sheen. Surprisingly, they also have the least amount of caffeine.
Choosing darker roasts can be confusing. French roast, Italian roast and Continental roast are among the dozen or so designations that might label dark coffee beans, but the roasting times differ and so will the taste.
As beans roast, the acids that contribute most to coffee’s taste degrade with one exception – quinic acid. This is the acid responsible for giving dark-roasted coffee a cleaner finish, but it’s also the most likely to give drinkers an upset stomach. Concentration reaches its peak in French roasts, then decreases as roasting progresses, giving coffees in the dark-roasted spectrum slightly different levels of acidity.
Roasting releases oils that add heft to brewed coffee. Expect a thicker brew that approaches syrupy and helps flavors stick to the palate.
At this stage of roasting, brightness is overwhelmed and notes of origin disappear, but as more oils are released, they add to the texture of dark roasts and contribute to the overall depth of flavor. When comparing light vs dark roast coffee taste, connoisseurs describe dark roasts as bold, smoky and sometimes even sweet, while those favoring light roasts call it heavy and charred.
Who will enjoy dark roasts?
At this level, anyone expecting to taste the difference between varietal beans may be disappointed, but if you need a brew that stands up to lots of cream and sugar or just enjoy deep-roasted flavor, darker roasts are for you.
It’s important to remember that roast level is only one factor that shapes the flavor of coffee, so choose one that reflects your preferences, but don’t be afraid to trial lighter and darker brews. Like fine wine, it’s the differences that make coffee grand.