Which Roast Has More Caffeine?

When choosing coffee, you find yourself needing an extra boost and you’ll likely be wondering which roast has more caffeine. Here's your answer

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coffee beans with a shot of espresso

There’s nothing quite like a freshly brewed coffee in the morning to wake you up for the day, but if you’re finding yourself needing an extra boost you’ll likely be wondering which roast has more caffeine.

With so many different types of coffee available to buy, there’ll surely be one that’s suited to your exact needs – in most cases, it’s a matter of trying different varieties out. With that said, in this article, we will be looking at how caffeine levels differ across different roasts, and how to maximize the caffeine potential of the bean that you have.

The Difference between Light and Dark Roast

To understand the effect that roasting has on the amount of caffeine in the resulting cup of coffee, we must first understand what is happening when a coffee bean is roasted. As you likely know, a coffee bean is green when it has been harvested, and this bean doesn’t produce a very nice tasting drink. This is because all of the flavours and oils are still contained deep within the bean, which is where roasting comes it.

The act of heating the bean causes the oils to begin to rise to the surface, and with that comes the rich flavour that you expect from a decent cup of coffee. Light-roasted beans are typically ones that are roasted to a temperature between 180°C and 205°C (356°F to 401°F), just before the bean cracks. At this stage, the beans turn to a light brown colour, and they have a toasted flavour – retaining a lot of the original flavour of the bean.

A dark roast, on the other hand, takes the temperature of the bean up to around 240°C (464°F). This pulls a lot of oil out of the bean that collates on the surface. Dark roasted beans are a very dark brown colour, almost like chocolate, and have flavours that taste smoky and bitter as a result of the roasting process rather than from the natural flavour of the bean.

Medium roast coffee gives you an end product that it somewhere in between. The beans are a rich colour with no sign of oils, and the resulting flavour tastes much more flavoursome. Knowing the difference if just the first step. The next is to see what exactly is in these light and dark roasted beans. How much caffeine is in it and does it still retain the flavor that you expect?

How does this Affect Caffeine Levels?

As mentioned before, the raw coffee bean needs to be slightly roasted to allow it to be brewed, and this process draws all of the oils towards the surface. When drinking light roast coffee, the flavours will be directly extracted from the bean as opposed to the roasting process. But with darker roasts, the flavour comes more from the process than from the bean.

This is because the roast starts to change the oils of the bean and the levels of flavour they contain. The same happens to the amount of caffeine that can be drawn out into the drink. And this is why you must take care to choose the right roast, or if you are doing it yourself, ensure that you are following the proper steps and methods that make roasting coffee both an efficient and excitng experience.

So is dark roast coffee stronger? The simple answer is no. As the bean is roasted more, there is less caffeine held within it, so your resultant cup of coffee will have lower levels.

Yes, that’s right. Contrary to what you might expect by looking at it, dark roast coffee actually has far less caffeine in it than a light roast coffee. This means that if you’re looking for a morning pick me up, you’ll be far better choosing a New England Roast, for example, than a French Roast.

Other Factors that Affect Caffeine Levels

Of course, it’s not just the way the bean has been roasted that affects the levels of caffeine in your cup of coffee. The type of coffee bean is the obvious starting point. With two main varieties accounting for the majority of the world’s coffee production, you’ll usually be left with a choice between Robusta coffee or Arabica coffee.

In a 6 ounce cup, coffee made from Robusta beans will contain about 170mg of caffeine, but one made with Arabica beans will contain about 100mg of caffeine- that’s a difference of about 50 per cent. That means if you are looking for a strong caffeine content you should choose Robusta, and if you are looking for a low caffeine option you would be best served by Arabica beans.

Within the varieties are many different strains of coffee, so it will also be a case of trying new types to find the one that is most suited for what you are looking for, finding the perfect balance of flavour and strength. Most coffee shops offer different types of beans that you can try. Many countries produce exotic and exciting flavors with their crop, giving you a chance to see which beans come out tasting awesome after roasting.

Many countries produce exotic and exciting flavors with their crop, giving you a chance to see which beans come out tasting awesome after roasting. The best ones come from humid climates, regardless of the continent. The tastes come out differently because of the soil quality and the methods used in growin the crop. If you want to explore the different roasts, find suppliers that are just as adventurous as you are.


One of the most noticeable ingredients within coffee is the caffeine, and whether you are drinking it to help become more awake and alert, or because you enjoy the flavour, it’s useful to know which roast has more caffeine. As the roasting process draws caffeine out of the bean, a darker roast will have a lot less in it than a lighter one.

Knowing which bean has more caffeine can be helpful in regulating the levels that you ingest everyday. Should you need a pick me up, you now know that a lighter roast will get the job done. On the other hand, if you want to savour the taste, do indulge in a dark roast now and then.

About this author:

I love waking up to the smell of coffee and spending time at coffee plantations. Here to share my knowledge and hope to connect with others to explore more about the world of coffee.

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