Light Roast vs Dark Roast: And Why Light Roast is Better – Spirit Animal Coffee

Light Roast Coffee: Why You Should Step Over
to the Light Side of the Force

Spirit Animal Blog

“Why do all your coffees have a medium or light roast profile?” 

On our podium of Frequently Asked Questions, this one steals the show nine times out of ten. 

If you, too, are on the dark side of coffee things, it’s time to reconsider your allegiance. Your health might be at stake.



Caffee trail
Dark Roast History

Dark roast coffee: a bit of (bitter) context

Why did the world start roasting coffee so dark? The reasons are two, both equally sad. They show just how ruthless and unsustainable the commercial-grade coffee business really is. Ready?

  1. When you roast coffee that much, coffee beans lose up to 20% of their weight. Since most of the transport costs go by the cargo’s weight, over-roasting makes shipping costs drop by a fifth. There you go. Char-tasting coffee is cheaper to transport.
  2. Dark roasting ensures a more consistent flavor. Poor harvest? Mix it up with other varieties and light up the stove. Got a bunch of damaged beans or mold on your coffee? No worries, just fry the life out of them. It will all end up tasting, well...dark.

 


Light Roast Coffee:
no greasy shine here

Roasting gives birth to hundreds of chemical reactions. Some of these processes, like bringing out the sweetness, are good. Others, not so much. 

When you roast coffee that dark, the cell walls tear down and allow the aromatic oils to come out on the surface. That’s why dark-roast beans get that oily shine. Once there, these flavorful droplets are left at the mercy of air and humidity. Adios to all the flavor nuances.

Have you noticed the greasy shine?
Dark roast bad for your health

Light roast coffee maintains high levels of Chlorogenic Acid
(And that’s a good thing)


Don’t get hoodwinked by the word "acid". We’re not talking about acidity levels. 

Chlorogenic acids (CGA) are gems of nature. These potent antioxidants have been scientifically proven to stabilize blood insulin, reduce blood pressure, and treat inflammation. Besides these physical benefits, CGA helps improve your cognition and memory and reduces anxiety levels. 

Many fruits and veggies contain chlorogenic acids: apples, pears, eggplant, tomatoes, and strawberries. But the highest concentration can be found in our beloved coffee beans. Up to 12% of the green bean’s mass is pure CGA. 

When exposed to high temperatures, CGAs become volatile. In fact, it’s one of the first compounds vanishing into thin air during coffee roasting. So the longer you expose the beans to heat, the less CGA the coffee will contain.

Dark roast bad for your health 2

Light roast coffee has lower levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons


Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), along with acrylamide, are the two prime culprits behind the occurrence of cataracts, kidney and liver damage, and sometimes even DNA mutations, like cancer. 

PAHs are a by-product of pyrolysis—the chemical decomposition that occurs when organic materials are exposed to heat. 

Dark roasting places coffee beans under high temperatures for prolonged times, increasing the risk of these ugly components forming inside the coffee bean. All the more reason you should keep your coffee roast the same way you keep your spirit: light.


Light roast coffee has the same level of caffeine as dark roast coffee

”But lighter roasts will make me miss out on the caffeine kick”

...said the guy who wrote the Dark Roast Urban Legends. 

The “stronger” taste you feel in dark roast has nothing to do with caffeine. Zilch. 

In fact, a 2017 study published in South Korea’s Journal of Medicinal Food confirmed that caffeine doesn’t vary with roast level. In short, a light roast will get you all the health benefits of CGAs, reduce the risk of consuming PHAs—all the while giving you the same caffeine kick as a poor, charred dark roast. 

It’s time to step over to the light side.

Caffeine kick

FAQS

Why can’t I find a dark roast profile in your coffee selection?

Dark-roasting the coffee is disrespectful towards the coffee and the farmers who put so much effort into growing it. But most importantly, it’s bad for you. Dark-roasting makes you miss out on all coffee’s health benefits and brings up all the nasty chemicals that appear when you overburn food.

Tell me more

Is it true that medium and light-roast coffees contain less caffeine?

Absolutely not. In fact, studies have shown that caffeine is one of the most stable chemical compounds across all roast profiles. In short, just because your coffee doesn’t “feel” strong (or bitter) doesn’t mean it contains less caffeine. With medium and light roasts, you’ll enjoy a much better complexity of flavors, all the while getting all the caff-oomph you need.

Learn more

What’s that greasy shine I see on dark-roast coffee? Is it good for me?

The greasy shine is good alright, but it isn’t where it should be. The oils you see outside of the coffee bean are aromatic oils. It’s where your coffee contains all its unique flavors. But with overroasting, these oils come out on the surface, where they soon evaporate into thin air. One more reason to step over to the light side.

More roasting facts