The Breakdown of the Best Dark Roast Coffee

Updated January 29, 2024

Do you love bold, nostalgic flavors? What about hot (or cold) caffeinated drinks with notes of caramel and chocolate? Is the comforting aroma of freshly ground coffee beans what gets you out of bed in the morning? Then dark roast coffee might just be for you.

In this breakdwon, we’ll delve into the world of dark roast coffee. We’ll explore its different characteristics, how to prepare it, and find out what makes it stand out from other coffee roasts. By the end, you’ll easily be able to tell the best dark roast coffee apart from the rest, so keep reading!

Medium vs Dark Roast Coffee

There’s a roast profile out there to suit all taste buds, and if the brightness of light roasts are not your thing, you might want to consider the world of medium and dark roast coffee.

What is Medium Roast Coffee

As you might expect, medium roast coffee is an ideal compromise for anyone searching for a midpoint between light and dark roast coffee. Slightly darker in color than a light roast, medium roast coffee beans have a well-rounded flavor profile: not too bitter, not too acidic, yet still with the capacity to showcase the unique origin characteristics that help drinkers detect where the coffee is produced. Medium roast coffee also contains the mellow, smooth notes that are characteristic of a dark roast, without being quite as bitter in flavor. 

Medium roast coffee is very versatile when it comes to preparation methods. It works particularly well when served using pour over methods, such as the V60, which gives the coffee maker maximum control over the coffee they are brewing. 

Dark Roast Coffee Beans

Dark roast coffee beans, on the other hand, have undergone a longer development time in the roaster. Typically, dark roast coffee may go up to the second “crack” in the roasting process, the first at around 200 degrees celsius and the second at about 225 degrees celsius. The term “crack” refers to the audible popping sound that can be heard when the coffee beans expand and their moisture evaporates as they are heated during roasting. 

This longer roast gives the coffee sugars time to caramelize, giving the roasted coffee beans a nostalgic, bold flavor, as well as an oily appearance and a very dark color. Some of the most well known examples of dark roast coffee beans are French roast and Italian roast beans, which both make for full bodied coffees; though Italian roast beans may come with a bitter aftertaste. 

Dark Roast Coffee Beans for Espresso

As we’ve mentioned in other blogs, dark roast coffee is great in espresso form, made using either a bean to cup machine in a coffee shop or a moka pot if prepared at home. It’s for this reason that dark roast coffee is often sometimes sold as “espresso roast.”

For both robusta or arabica beans, the best way to grind them in their dark roast form is very finely. This allows the coffee flavor to be extracted over a greater, overall surface area during a short brewing period. For an extremely decadent dark roast espresso, try adding a little pouring cream to serve it the Austrian way. You can thank us later!

Alternatively, dark roast beans can also make a great long coffee in a French press. If served this way,  the coffee beans will need to be ground more coarsely. And for the cold coffee lovers out there, dark roast coffee also makes a great roast profile for cold brew and ability to blend so well with milk. 

Here at Those Coffee People, we offer roasting and white labeling services for customers looking to buy coffee beans direct from their Colombian origin. Check them out

Best Dark Roast Coffee Beans

When it comes to coffee beans, some of the best are grown and farmed in one single geographic location — single origin coffee — as opposed to a blend of coffee beans from a number of different farms.  

As the coffee enthusiasts among you will already know, in commercial coffee production, there are two main families of high coffee beans: arabica beans and robusta beans. Across these two categories, there are more than 120 different varieties of coffee beans. Smooth and sweet arabica beans often contain fruity, sugary notes, producing a pleasantly mild coffee to drink when brewed. 

Dark Roast Arabica Coffee Flavors

In their dark roasted form, arabica coffee beans have a full-bodied, bold taste. Due to the increased development time in roasting, they can have a bitter taste in comparison to light roast coffee beans. However, when roasted properly, the coffee sugars caramelize just the right amount, creating a nostalgic richness.

This bitter taste is produced because the longer the coffee stays in the roaster, the more it starts to burn. Though the taste of burned coffee beans is not for everyone, some coffee drinkers have become accustomed to this taste, and so enjoy recognizing this flavor in their dark roast coffee. 

Here at Those Coffee People, we don’t tend to recommend specialty coffees for dark roasting.

This is because once a coffee bean is dark roasted and burns, the end result will taste the same, regardless of its quality. In other words, a dark roasted traditional, standard quality coffee will end up tasting the same as a dark roast high-quality, specialty coffee, and the latter then loses its value for money. 

Let’s say you were buying steak. You could buy a standard, cheap cut, or an expensive Wagyu steak and cook them both well done, and they will likely taste either very similar or the same. Cook them rare, on the other hand, and you’ll be able to taste the quality in the Wagyu and the defects in the standard cut. 

Nevertheless, coffee varieties that work well for dark roasting are usually defined by their strong flavors that hold up, despite the long roasting process. Examples of these include our Red Bomb specialty variety or the 1700 Natural beans. Despite losing its floral properties in a dark roast, our exotic Caturra Chiroso variety also maintains its rich, chocolatey base flavor throughout the roasting process all the way to a dark roast. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, our Traditional variety also works very well as a dark roast coffee. 

Arabica Coffee Production in Colombia

We can proudly say that Colombia — where we are based — produces some great varieties of arabica coffee beans for dark roasting. Home to almost one million hectares of coffee-growing land, the combination of the country’s temperate climate, high-altitude regions, and fertile soils creates the perfect environment for coffee cultivation. 

On the other hand, robusta beans — grown mainly in Africa, Indonesia, and India — are bolder, stronger, and often more bitter in flavor than arabica beans. Their flavor can be described as slightly earthy and in some cases, almost nutty. Though robusta beans contain more caffeine than arabica beans, they contain almost half the amount of sugar.

In their dark roasted form, robusta beans have an unsurprisingly aggressive, smokey flavor, and are almost black in color. The advantage of dark roast robusta coffee beans over arabica beans is that, when served in espresso form, they produce a thicker crema: the layer of creamy froth on top of a shot of espresso. This layer of foam is created by the pressure in the coffee machine, which helps to release the carbon dioxide inside the roasted coffee beans.

Here at Those Coffee People, we deliver the best white label dark roast arabica coffee beans directly from their Colombian origin to your door.

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