Caffeine Levels of Light and Dark Roast K-Cups | An Informative Breakdown

Coffee lovers have a plethora of options when it comes to choosing their preferred brew. One popular option is single-serve K cups, which offer a quick and convenient way to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee.

However, choosing the right K cup can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to the roast level. But why it is necessary to figure out the amount of caffeine in K-Cups? Acceptance of caffeine depends on personal tolerance, and caffeine has varying effects on our bodies.

So, it is definitely worthwhile to understand the amount of caffeine we ingest daily from different roasts of coffee beans.

Misconception About Light Roast Vs Dark Roast

Misconceptions are what lead us to the correct conceptions that most people agree on. So why not let you know about the myths going on between my colleagues? 

Light Roast Coffee Contains More Caffeine: I heard many of my colleagues and friends say light roast K cups contain a lower amount of caffeine because the roasting process reduces the caffeine. 

Dark roast Has a Stronger Flavor: Another misconception flies around my ear whenever I sit down to drink a cuppa coffee with a dark roast coffee bean lover. So they believe roasting somehow bakes away the caffeine and makes coffee taste stronger. 

K-Cup Coffee Contains the Same Amount of Caffeine:  Some believe K-cup contains the same amount of caffeine for light, medium and dark roast into specific sizes of cups like 8 ounces, 12 ounces, and so on. 

So, Which Roast Type of Coffee Beans Has More Caffeine?

According to different studies and research papers, dark roast coffee beans contain almost as much caffeine as light roast and medium roast coffee beans. However, if I take two 8-ounce K-cups of light roast and dark roast coffee, the light roast will most likely contain more caffeine [1]. Here are the concepts:

Concept-1: Tends to Zero Effect on Caffeine

Roasting has almost no effect on the total amount of caffeine in a coffee bean, whether the bean is Robusta or Arabica. So whatever amount of caffeine was in the green coffee bean is still there in the dark brown bean after the dark roasting. So caffeine in coffee dark vs light roast remains relatively stable. 

There are misconceptions about which roast is higher in caffeine. Some people assume that the darker the bean, the higher the caffeine content. Others have heard that roasting burns off caffeine, meaning light roasts are actually higher in the stimulant. However, dark roasts tend to be slightly lower in caffeine after the roasting process.

Cecilia Snyder, healthline.com

Concept-2: Developing More Porous 

Light & Dark Roasted Coffee Beans

Dark roasting makes the coffee beans more and more porous. The cells in the beans expand while roasting. The moisture inside the beans evaporates. As a result, the internal pressure of the beans increases. The actual weight of the individual coffee bean gets lighter the longer we roast.

Note: I need more dark roast beans to brew the same amount of coffee as I do for a light roast. 

For example, I collect 20 grams of light roast and 20 grams of dark roast coffee beans. Let’s say 20 grams of light-roasted coffee contains 30 coffee beans.

So 20 grams of dark roast coffee will have 35 coffee beans. Because dark roast coffee beans are lighter and more porous compared to light roast coffee beans. 

How Does Dark Roast of Coffee Beans Enhance the Flavor

I notice the flavors of Arabica coffee changing between light, medium, city, and french roast during the roasting process. But the total amount of caffeine doesn’t show a huge difference [2].

So roasting is much more than changing the color of the beans. The more I roast coffee beans, the more internal changes occur, and flavors are produced.

Dark Roasted Coffee Beans

Suppressing The Bitterness 

Roasts that are short and hot produce weak and acidic coffee. In contrast, dark roast coffee may lose some unique characteristics. Trigonelline is one compound that causes bitterness in coffee. It degrades at 192 degrees Celsius. Balancing sugar with trigonelline is the key to less bitterness and a slightly better flavor [3].

Flavor Takes the Place of Chlorogenic Acids

So the bitterness goes away gradually during a light roast, a medium roast, and finally, a dark roast. Also, Researchers found another compound called chlorogenic acids which is 4-9% weight of dry coffee beans affect the flavor.

During a light roast, it breaks down to 45–54%, and a 100% breakdown happens to chlorogenic acids. So the more roasting goes from light roast to dark, the coffee flavors replace the more varietal notes and grassy characteristics of green coffee.

Guessing the Amount of Caffeine 

Now, this is not as simple as I used to think. Here I’m going to describe the method of guessing how you guess caffeine coffee dark vs light in K-Cup. Note it down, it’s for people like us who don’t have any access to scientific tools. 

So, this comparison of caffeine is about the same as coffee beans. It will be tougher to measure the amount of dark roast caffeine vs light roast if the beans are from different countries.

Concept-3: 

The caffeine compound gets extracted and dissolved into the water pretty early in the brewing process. This concept is valuable because even if I had a poor extraction during the brewing process, most, if not all, of the caffeine would have already been consumed.

Caffeine In Light Roast For Pour Over and Espresso

So, let’s compare 1 K-cup of lightly roasted coffee brewed as a pour-over vs espresso. In this case, the main fact is how many individual K-cups of beans are used for serving. The K-cup uses 9–12 grams of coffee in an average cup [4].  

So it’s simple for me because both pour-over and espresso have the same amount of caffeine in 9–12 grams of coffee beans. But if I have a larger cup to pour over, then it will have more caffeine than espresso. 

Caffeine In Light Roast Pour over and Dark Roast Espresso

It’s a bit tricky because if I use 9–12 grams of light roast coffee beans for the pour-over, then it’s going to use fewer individual coffee beans than dark roast espresso. Because dark roast coffee beans weigh lighter than light roast coffee beans. As a result, espresso contains more coffee beans than 9-12 g of pour-over. So it’s understandable, espresso has slightly more caffeine. 

But this caffeine difference is very unnoticeable because of the few bean differences. The caffeine difference will be noticeable if dark roast contains 5-10 more beans.

What Roast Has the Most Caffeine K-cups?

The average K-cup uses 9–12 grams of coffee for both dark roast and light roast. But what about caffeine? According to the K-cup packages, the average cup contains 75–150 milligrams of caffeine. This is for both light, medium, and dark roast caffeine. Caffeine varies slightly, but not by a huge margin.

But there are other K-cup coffees like French roast, Italian roast, espresso, continental, and New Orleans coffee beans that are multiple times darker than dark roast. So they have less weight and are very compact. That’s why they offer more caffeine in K-cup coffee. 

Coffee TypeNumber of Beans In (9-12 Grams)Caffeine Content
Light Roast Pour Over20 Beans Approx.75-150 mg
Dark Roast Espresso25 Beans Approx.Slightly more than
75-150 mg
French Roast, Italian Roast, Continental, New OrleansMore than 25 beans and more compactRaise a noticeable amount of caffeine.

 FAQ

Do light roast K-cups have more caffeine?

Theoretically, Light roast K-Cups have more caffeine than a medium and dark roast, but it is not noticeable in the taste. So basically, the roast type doesn’t cause any loss of caffeine. 

Does light roast or dark roast have more caffeine?

Both have the same amount of caffeine. When dark roast goes through high temperature, the chemical inside it gets condensed, and it loses all the water. So basically, the flavor gets enhanced in a darker roast. Not the caffeine.  

What roast has the most caffeine K-cups?

It mostly depends on how much coffee beans I am using for 9-12 grams of K-Cups coffee. Most of the time, the number of light roast coffee beans is less than dark roast coffee beans for 9-12 grams of K-cup coffee.  

How much caffeine is in a dark roast K-cups? 

75 to 150 milligrams of caffeine is available for 9-12 grams of K-cup coffee on average. The dark roast will have slightly more caffeine than the same 9-12 grams of K-cup coffee. 

Conclusion 

Is light roast coffee stronger than a dark roast? Coffee gets stronger when it has more caffeine.

And I’ve already described how the roasting process doesn’t have much effect on caffeine in the coffee beans. So stay out of any confusion about the caffeine content in the different roast levels of coffee beans.  

More Resources: Which One is Stronger: Dark Roast or Medium Roast

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/light-vs-dark-roast-coffee.
  2. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2017.3935
  3. https://sciencemeetsfood.org/coffee-flavors/
  4. https://coffeeaffection.com/how-much-coffee-is-in-a-k-cup/
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