How Much Caffeine in Dark Roasts vs Light Roasts?

 

We’ve all wondered, we’ve all asked. But the answers always seem to be different. Do dark roasts or light roasts have more caffeine?

Dark roasts, with their bolder, gustier taste are typically seen as carrying a more substantial caffeine punch than light roasts. However, the stronger-tasting brews aren’t actually an indicator of their caffeine content. Light roast coffee has approximately the same caffeine content as dark roast coffee per bean. Per gram though, it IS different.

Every individual responds to caffeine differently, but humans generally have taken a liking to this interesting compound that’s found naturally in coffee (both the cherry and seed!). We love the flavour of coffee though, and more often than not that’s why we drink it, so to help avoid the jitters it’s always best to know how much caffeine you’re drinking. You can adjust the type of coffee beverages you choose to make at home or order at the cafe to fit your style!

The Caffeine Content of Dark Roast Coffee & Light Roast Coffee

  • The colour of a coffee bean, when whole or brewed, is not an indicator of its caffeine content
  • Bolder, stronger-tasting coffee doesn’t mean it has more caffeine because you can’t actually taste caffeine
  • Dark roasts appear larger than light roasts because coffee beans grow larger the longer they’re in contact with heat

Scoop vs Scale: How you measure coffee impacts the caffeine content.

Why? Because light roast beans are smaller due to less time in contact with the heat of the roaster, you’ll be measuring more coffee, and therefore, getting more caffeine in your cup.

At DETOUR, we always recommend a scale to ensure you’re getting the correct amount of coffee no matter the size of the bean. With a scoop, the weight of the coffee used can be quite different scoop to scoop depending on the bean.

Bean to bean, with larger, dark roast beans, you will be getting less caffeine due to sheer bean volume. More coffee = more caffeine. 

Actual Caffeine Content: Coffee Drinks with The Most Caffeine (per serving)

    1. (MOST) Cold Brew: Due to high concentration of beans-to-water and longer brewing time
    2. Drip: 95 to 200 mg caffeine per 1 cup (8 ounces)
    3. (LEAST) Espresso: 47 to 75 mg per shot* **
  • Black Tea: 14 to 70 mg per 1 cup (8 ounces)
  • Green Tea: 24 to 45 mg per 1 cup (8 ounces)

  • *Keep in mind that by volume, espresso has more caffeine than drip, which is why only a small “shot” is needed (i.e. you wouldn’t have an 8-ounce mug of espresso!) Check out our post on espresso roasts vs filter roasts for more on this! [link}

    Caffeine Content in Coffee Recap

    • Dark beans are larger because they spend a longer time in the hot roaster – this doesn’t mean more caffeine
    • Roast colour is not an indicator of caffeine content
    • Brewing method will affect caffeine content
    • Cold brew = most caffeine per serving  
    • Espresso = least caffeine per serving (though it is a much smaller serving size, so keep that in mind – for more volume and less caffeine, we recommend an Americano!)

    ** numbers from here