It’s the morning. You roll into the cafe looking for a boost of caffeine to start your day so you naturally order a coffee hoping to get that extra jolt. For some the conversation is light vs. dark roast. Some people think dark roast contains a higher amount of caffeine due to the robust taste and dark coloring, while others choose light roast because of the belief that caffeine becomes less during the roasting process. Then for others the conversation is espresso vs. drip and opt for a straight espresso shot when they need that immediate buzz. So which assumption is correct? The answer is none. These common beliefs are merely misconceptions.
Light vs. Dark Roast
During the roasting process caffeine remains stable. Thus if you were to measure one single light roast bean and one single dark roast bean the caffeine percentages would be extremely close and only distinguishable in an observed laboratory setting.
The difference in caffeine levels actually comes from the means of measurement. During the roasting process the bean’s mass decreases. This means that light roast beans are bigger in size then dark roast beans. Therefore if you are going scoop for scoop, aka measuring by volume, a light roast will have more caffeine because the beans are greater in mass. On the contrary, if you measure them out evenly by mass, 10 grams of each for example, dark roast will have more caffeine because the beans are less dense and the actual number of dark roast beans would be greater.
Espresso vs. Drip
Similar to the light vs. dark roast debate, this conversation comes down to measurements. If you had an ounce of espresso and an ounce of drip coffee, espresso would blow drip out of the water at a ratio of 30-50 mg of caffeine per ounce to 8-15 mg of caffeine per ounce. The issue with this assessment is the traditional way each drink is served. A traditional espresso shot serving is about one ounce whereas a traditional drip coffee serving is usually 8 ounces and above. Therefore, by volume, espresso is the winner but since it is consumed in much smaller doses from a beverage standpoint, drip then takes the lead.
Our advice: At the end of the day (or beginning really) it is not about what type of coffee you are drinking but how much of it you are drinking. If you want more of a caffeine kick you just get to drink more coffee. Lucky you!