The Ultimate Guide to Dark Roast Coffee

Coffee beans in a roaster

When you hear the term “dark roast,” what comes to mind? For most people, the idea of dark roast coffee doesn’t bring up good memories. Instead, they probably remember a time where they ordered coffee and it was oily and dirty.

For years, roasters have used low quality coffee beans for dark roasts. Then, they roast the beans to the point of almost being burned.

The good news for all the dark roast coffee lovers out there? The coffee industry is focusing on quality over quantity now. Better beans and better roasting methods mean a better dark roast for you to enjoy.

What Is a Dark Roast?

Dark roast coffee goes by many names. French roast, Italian roast, New Orleans, European, Viennese, and more. These names bring up images of burnt, oily coffee beans. But a dark roast can be so much more than that.

At its best, dark roast coffee boasts a heavy body with low acidity and deep, sweet flavor notes.

Originally, coffee beans were roasted over a flame until the oils came to the surface. They were only taken off once they started smoking. That's how it got its bad reputation. Nowadays, dark roasts capture the deep, rich flavors of the coffee bean.

To make dark roast coffee, you need to roast the coffee beans past the second crack. If you’re keeping an eye on the temperature, the beans should be around 464 to 482 degrees Fahrenheit.

Burlap bags

Light Roast Vs. Dark Roast

Light roast coffee and dark roast coffee are very different. While dark roast coffee beans are oily, light roasts have no oils on the surface.

The flavor notes are wildly different, too. Dark roasts burn away the more delicate, fruity flavors. But light roasts emphasize the lighter floral, fruity flavor notes and tangy acidity.

Medium Roast Vs. Dark Roast

Medium roasts are the perfect balance between light roasts and dark roasts. Like light roasts, medium roasts keep the lighter, unique flavors of the coffee bean. At the same time, medium roasts have the rich sweetness that characterizes dark roasts.

Dark Roast Flavor Profile

A good dark roast doesn’t taste burnt or ashy. Instead, a good dark roast is reminiscent of good diner coffee or a cozy evening in the winter. The coffee has a strong aroma with a smooth mouthfeel, creamy body, and perfect amount of bitterness. But the flavor notes are really what sets this roast type apart.

Dark roasts contain notes of caramel, maple syrup, and dark chocolate balanced out by notes of spice and nuts. But each regions’ coffee is unique, and these flavors show up differently in every cup.

Some of the best green coffee beans for dark roast are from Indonesia, Tanzania, Colombia, and Ethiopia.

Dark Roast Health Benefits

The best news about dark roast coffee? It has a lot of health benefits. Overall, it’s a rich source of antioxidants that’s proven to benefit mood, memory, metabolism, and more.

Research studies show that it can lower the risk of cancer, as the antioxidants fight the free radicals. It also lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia and supports liver health.

While dark roast coffee has incredible health benefits, it’s important to note that some people shouldn’t consume that much caffeine. If you’re on certain medications or pregnant, you should consult with your doctor before drinking more coffee.

Pulling a shot of espresso

Best Brewing Methods for Dark Roast Coffee

Dark roast coffee beans are some of the most versatile coffee beans. In other words, they’re great brewed however you want! No matter what, they produce consistent flavor. So, try your favorite dark roast coffee beans with a drip coffee or a pour over or French press.

Cold brew is another great brewing method for dark roasted coffee. The long extraction time allows for the water to absorb the deep, earthy, nutty, chocolatey notes.

But the dark roast is most well-known for its espresso. Because of the roast type, it’s able to withstand the intense heat and pressure required for a great shot of espresso. If the shot is pulled correctly, it can accentuate the beans’ rich flavors perfectly.

As always, you need to remember a couple of things for brewing. Make sure you have the right grind size for the brewing method you choose. Keep a close eye on the water temperature to ensure the best extraction. And if possible, use fresh beans.

Coffee beans start oxidizing after being roasted and are best within a few weeks. To keep them fresh longest, you can invest in valved bags. The valves let the carbon dioxide out as the beans oxidize, maintaining their freshness.

One final note, dark roast coffee is always best with rich, creamy desserts, tangy foods, or spicy dishes. For example, chocolate cake, cheesecake, or curry. Let us know what your favorite dish, coffee combo is!


A good dark roast coffee is hard to beat with its cozy vibes and rich flavor profile. It’s time to give dark roast coffee a try and enjoy the notes of dark chocolate and cinnamon.