All coffee beans are not created equal. More specifically, the roasting has a substantial impact on both the flavor and the caffeination of your cup.
In my early 20s at a boutique hotel in Diamond Head, Hawaii, I began a deep love affair with coffee. While playing in the now deceased Hawaiian Winter Baseball league, I’d wake up at the crack of dawn, watch waves crash from a rocky cliff and sip hot local coffee out of a paper cup. At the time, I was still eating pastries for breakfast (awwww). In those glory days, the coffee was dark, and I was sure that meant it was “strong.”
Through years of navigating my way through various clubhouses, I, along with many of my teammates, put an inaccurate puzzle together that dark coffee was made from dark coffee beans and that dark meant powerful. At the time, we were primarily focused on ensuring our coffee was heavy on the energy boosting properties produced by copious caffeine content. Silly boy. From coffeecrossroads.com:
Dark roasted coffees are dark brown in color, like chocolate, or sometimes almost black. They have a sheen of oil on the surface, which is usually evident in the cup when the dark roast coffee is brewed. The coffee’s origin flavors are eclipsed by the flavors of the roasting process. The coffee will generally have a bitter and smoky or even burnt taste. The amount of caffeine is substantially decreased.
That bitter, almost burnt taste may have been responsible for our notion that it had more “pop.” After all, if it it’s more challenging to drink, the rewards must be greater. Now, I dig that flavor. When I’m simply optimizing for taste and experience, I go deep and dark. However, if I need to focus or train, I hunt a caramel or peanut butter color in my beans.
Light roasts are light brown in color, with a light body and no oil on the surface of the beans. Light roasts have a toasted grain taste and pronounced acidity. The origin flavors of the bean are retained to a greater extent than in darker roasted coffees. Light roasts also retain most of the caffeine from the coffee bean.
Inevitably, you’ll find yourself wanting the combination of richness and a buzz. Some folks will shoot for a cappuccino or a latte under said circumstances. If that’s you, all good (by the way, I like your beret). Personally, I mine for balance in my brew and look for a medium bean. I drink it black so as to not throw off the scents and unique flavors of the cup.
Medium roasted coffees are medium brown in color with more body than light roasts. Like the lighter roasts, they have no oil on the bean surfaces. However, medium roasts lack the grainy taste of the light roasts, exhibiting more balanced flavor, aroma, and acidity. Caffeine is somewhat decreased, but there is more caffeine than in darker roasts.
Baseball clubhouses are melting pots and the profession demands that we learn the cultures of our teammates. As such, I have had the honor and adventure of sampling coffee from each corner of the earth including the DR, Japan, Cuba and, of course, the aforementioned Hawaii. Beans of all colors and caffeine levels come from each region. The world perpetually meets our demands.