The Roasting Process
Many people don’t understand how much work goes into each bag of packaged coffee, or how their roast impacts the coffee they’re buying. Roasting profiles vary from a light to a dark roast. Dark roasts impart different flavors and smells into your cup with slightly less caffeine. The best way to think about the light-to-dark roast is on a linear spectrum. Lighter roasts have received less heat or time in the roaster, whereas darker roasts have more heat.
As the coffee roasts, the moisture inside the bean gets hot and bursts out. Roasters call this burst from within the bean a “crack” and expect every bean to crack at least twice during the roast. These cracks are hallmarks of the roasting process, as the second crack means the beans have reached a darker roast.
If you keep roasting past the second crack, your beans will begin to look glossy as the remaining oils inside the bean are pulled to the surface. These oily beans are considered versions of darker roasts like French, Italian, and Vienna roasts.
Light roasts have slightly more caffeine and more healthy antioxidants than darker roasts because the roasting process extracts caffeine and antioxidants through the evaporating moisture.
But for consumers, the smell and taste of the beans will be the main distinguishing feature between roasts.
Flavor and Aroma
The flavor and aroma differences between dark and other types of roasts can be confusing, so we’re going to help you know what to expect before you buy.
The dark roast is the classic roast, because people have been roasting it over open flames for centuries. Dark roasted beans will give your coffee a strong aroma and smooth flavors that may resemble chocolate or molasses. In addition to an unmistakable bitter taste, darker roasts can be thicker to the point of heavy cream.
Unless you like your coffee black, with a dark roast you’re likely going to be adding some milk and sugar to your cup. Because of that strong coffee flavor, dark roasts have become popular at franchise coffee shops because the coffee flavor can withstand the fancier sugar and milk coffee drinks.
Medium and lighter roasts taste less bitter and more acidic. But make no mistake, if you like your coffee strong or black then dark roasts are the right roast for you. Consumers should also know that where the bean was grown impacts the flavor of the coffee as well.
Which coffee drinks pairs best with dark roast coffee beans?
Dark roast coffee beans are known for their bold and robust flavors. They tend to have a rich, intense profile with notes of chocolate, caramel, and even smokiness. Here are three coffee drinks that pair well with dark roast coffee beans:
- Espresso: Dark roast coffee beans are commonly used in espresso due to their strong flavors. The concentrated shot of espresso complements the boldness of the dark roast, creating a robust and satisfying drink.
- Café Mocha: The combination of dark chocolate and dark roast coffee is a match made in heaven. The deep flavors of the dark roast coffee beans blend harmoniously with the chocolate, resulting in a decadent and indulgent café mocha.
- Cappuccino: The creamy and velvety texture of a cappuccino can balance out the intensity of dark roast coffee beans. The frothed milk adds a touch of sweetness and smoothness to the bold flavors, creating a well-rounded and satisfying beverage.
- Vietnamese coffee: The strong flavors of the dark roast cut through the sweetness of the condensed milk, creating a well-balanced and indulgent combination.
Remember, coffee preferences can vary, so feel free to experiment and adjust the ratios of coffee to milk or chocolate according to your taste preferences.
Brewing Dark Roast Coffee
If you’re going to be spending extra effort to buy the best dark roast coffee beans, you better brew it right.
Many people know the water-to-coffee ratio is important, but that’s not all. Because your dark roast was roasted to give you a strong coffee flavor, a little bit of brew goes a long way.
To avoid an obsidian-black cup of coffee, grind your coffee coarse and brew it for a shorter time. I recommend using Chemex or pour-overs to ensure the water doesn’t soak in the beans too long. Play your cards right and you’ll be able to taste the chocolate and molasses flavors that can sometimes be overpowered by the strong coffee flavor.
Dark roast coffee is a common yet classic in American coffee culture. From chains to specialty shops, you’ll never be too far from a black cup of joe. Be sure to consider the farm location when picking out the beans to get you through your day.
But with our list of brands, you’ll undoubtedly find the best dark roast coffee for your palate. Happy sipping!