Does Light Roast Coffee Really Have More Caffeine Than Dark Roast?

By: Valor Team

Published On: June 17, 2024

Category: Education

Today, we’re diving into a common coffee myth: Does light roast coffee really have more caffeine than dark roast? We’ve seen this conversation be filled with myths and speculation, so today we want to clear this up once and for all!

The Roast Spectrum: Light vs. Dark

Before we dive in here, let’s talk about the roasting process. Roasting transforms green coffee beans into the aromatic and complex cups we enjoy daily. Whether you prefer a light roast or a dark roast, each brings unique flavors and characteristics to your cup.

Roasting Temperature and Time:

  • Light Roast: Either individually or a combination of roasting at lower temperatures and/or a shorter time, resulting in denser beans.
  • Dark Roast: Either individually or a combination of roasting at higher temperatures and/or a longer time, reducing bean mass but increasing volume.

Quick Note: Origin and processing affects bean density, so for our writings here, we’ll be assuming we’re discussing the same bean (process and origin).

Caffeine Stability: The good news is caffeine is pretty stable during roasting. This means the caffeine content per bean doesn’t change much, regardless of the roast level.

Caffeine Content: By Weight vs. By Volume

The real kicker lies in how you measure your coffee:

  • By Weight: Light roast coffee beans, being denser, can have slightly more caffeine if you measure by weight (like 20 grams of beans).
  • By Volume: Dark roast beans are larger due to expansion from roasting, so a scoop of dark roast might contain fewer beans than a scoop of light roast, potentially leading to less caffeine. 

Taste and Flavor Profile

Beyond caffeine, the roast level significantly impacts flavor:

  • Light Roast: Often brighter and more acidic, highlighting the bean’s natural flavors.
  • Dark Roast: Rich, bold, and robust, and higher perceived sweetness (when not pushed too far) with flavors influenced heavily by the roasting process.

Brewing Methods and Caffeine Extraction

Your brewing method also plays a huge role in the caffeine content of your cup. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • French Press: Longer steeping time can mean more caffeine extraction.
  • Espresso: Quick and intense, it packs more caffeine per ounce but less overall in a typical serving.
  • Drip Brew: Balanced extraction time results in moderate caffeine levels.
  • Cold Brew: Long steeping at cold temperatures extracts a high amount of caffeine.

Grind size, water temperature, and brew time all affect how much caffeine ends up in your cup, regardless of the roast.

Clearing Up the Roast Level Caffeine Myths With Reality

  • Myth: Light roast coffee has significantly more caffeine than dark roast. Reality: The difference is minimal. Both light and dark roasts contain similar caffeine levels per bean, with any noticeable differences usually stemming from brewing methods or measurement styles.
  • Myth: Dark roast coffee is stronger and has more caffeine. Reality: Strength refers to flavor intensity, not caffeine content. Dark roasts taste “bolder” but don't necessarily pack more caffeine.
  • Myth: All coffee beans have the same amount of caffeine. Reality: Caffeine content varies between species. For example, Robusta beans generally contain more caffeine than Arabica beans.


In the end, the caffeine content in light versus dark roast is a matter of how you measure and brew your coffee. Light roasts might yield slightly more caffeine by volume, but the difference is subtle. Your brewing method and personal preferences will ultimately define your coffee experience.

Wanna try some coffee? Here are some options that will suit any coffee drinker out there!

Freethrow – not dark: Try it here!

Workers' Comp – getting darker: Get a box!

Turbo Diesel – our darkest coffee: For those who like the dark stuff.

Book Club – decaf medium roast: No caffeine, still delicious.

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