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Do Dark Roasts Have More Caffeine Than Light Roasts?

Updated on September 1, 2009

This is a very interesting coffee question that has become a coffee myth in many circles because people assume that dark roasts have more caffeine than lighter roasts, so what is the truth?

Many people think that if coffee beans are dark roasted and have a fuller flavor, then the coffee is stronger and contains more caffeine. Quite the opposite! Most light roasts will have more caffeine than their darker roast counterparts because the roasting process causes the beans to go through physical changes that make them burn off caffeine as a result. During the darker roasting process, the beans can get larger in size and also lose weight because the caffeine is roasted out. The darker the beans (which is a longer roast), normally the less caffeine because it has been burned off in the roasting process.

There is a catch to this simple answer, which is that when beans are dark roasted for a long period of time, they become lighter in weight as a result. This leaves the potential for a pound of a light roast coffee to have the same caffeine as a pound of a dark roast coffee because it takes more beans of the lighter weight dark roast to make up a full pound. However, if you are comparing a dark versus light roast pound for pound without adding any extra beans to make up for the weight loss of the dark roast, then the lighter roast will have more caffeine overall.

Furthermore, keep in mind that Robusta beans do have almost twice as much caffeine as Arabica beans. However, they do not offer any of the complex tastes and flavors that Arabica beans do, making them a lesser quality alternative. Still, some roasters use Robusta beans as a cheaper filler, and they are often mixed into espresso blends because of their high caffeine content. Arabica is the more gourmet and premium bean type, but they will have less caffeine content.

To conclude, keep in mind that though a dark roast will normally have less caffeine than a lighter roast, espresso has the least caffeine of all. When you compare a regular drip brewed cup of Joe with a shot of espresso, the cup of Joe will have more caffeine. Shocking! Part of the reason for this is dependent upon the extraction process of the coffee grounds. An espresso shot should be extracted for ideally 25 seconds, but when you make coffee in a drip brew coffee maker or with a French Press, the coffee grounds will be extracted for up to four minutes. This means that the fresh coffee grounds are in contact with the brewing water for a longer period of time, leaving more caffeine in the final cup of Joe.

Overall, if you want to get your coffee buzz on, then go for a light roast instead of a shot of espresso or a dark roasted cup of Joe because it will definitely pack the punch that you are looking for!


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    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Interesting hub. I would have thought just the opposite, but then it's like they always say "don't just assume the obvious is so obvious." :)

    • Chuggin McCoffee profile image

      Chuggin McCoffee 7 years ago from San Antonio

      Haha, truer words have never been said! Thank you.

    • TXCoffeeCollege profile image

      TXCoffeeCollege 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hey Chuggin McCoffee, just a friendly heads up: Roast magazine actually published an article about this a while back. They had different findings than you listed. Here is something I pulled from the article: "Popular lore has always been that the darker the roast level, the lower the caffeine content. This is not really the case, as caffeine changes very little during the roasting process. Caffeine has a very stable crystalline structure with a boiling point above 600 degrees Fahrenheit, far above roasting temperatures, which rarely exceed 470 degrees Fahrenheit. This means there is very little change to the caffeine during the roasting process."

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      Mamamicos 6 years ago

      Last comment is true. Almost no caffeine is lost by roasting, a little bit. You article is just trying to sell white coffee... ha ha ha

    • profile image

      Coffee Drinker 3 years ago

      I think Dark Roast Coffee has more then light, noobs!

    • profile image

      Coffee Drinker 3 years ago

      We are taking about shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots shots

    • profile image

      Coffee actually my favorite coffee is dunkin donuts 3 years ago

      Yeah it is

    • profile image

      Coffee Drinker 3 years ago

      All I want is the true answer because I want to stay up all night to drink coffee instead of drinking a lot of my coffee!

    • profile image

      Coffee Drinker 3 years ago

      And if you tell us the true I will love ya ;)

    • profile image

      PEGGY SCOTT 3 years ago


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      RICK THE COFFEEMAN 19 months ago



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