Dec 20, 2011

Darker Roast = Higher Quality?

I love a good single-origin coffee, whether from a specific region or a specific plantation, that has been roasted to bring out the very best qualities of that coffee. I’m not going to base my coffee choice on how dark or light the roast is as long as I know that the flavor of the beans has been taken into account and allowed to shine. I have noticed, over the past couple of years, that there has been a real trend for people to think that a darker roast = higher quality when it comes to coffee. I’ve had plenty of seriously over-roasted “gourmet” coffees that just about burned all the real flavor out of their beans.

On the flip side of this coin, I’ve also met many people who won’t touch any dark roast with a 10 foot pole because they believe that they will always been far to strong to taste good (hence why Peet’s and Starbucks are marketing new lighter roasts).

The reality is that a dark roast alone isn’t the mark of a high quality coffee, and it also isn’t the mark of a coffee that is going to make your spoon stand up in it. You can generalize that Indonesian coffees often work best with a dark roast and many Central American coffees work beautifully with a light roast. In the end, coffee should be roasted to bring out the best flavor profile of the beans, whether they’re a unique single-origin coffee or a blend of a variety of beans. As more coffee roasters take the time to promote this fact, more people are going to open up and try new coffees outside of their comfort zone – dark or light – and learn that the color of the coffee bean matters, but only if the color is the best fit for that particular bean.


1 Comment

  • Completely agree. Another question would be “Darker Roast = Lower Quality?”
    Where the dark roast preference at Starbucks and most west coast houses came from is a mystery to me. The variation in the flavor of different beans and the nuance of coffee flavor is a lot harder to pick up in the overroasted bean. Nevertheless, a lot of people love the ashy-charcoaly taste and aftertaste of the dark roasts. Go figure!

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