Dark Roast Coffee Beans: Top Picks & Reviews

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Different coffee lovers have different taste tolerance, so some prefer the light roast, others the medium, and some the dark roast. The roast level of the coffee bean plays a significant role in determining the taste of the coffee.

Dark roast coffee beans in town

These beans have a sheen of oil on the bean’s surface, and the color is dark – almost black. It is roasted to the second crack and sometimes beyond. Unlike light roast or medium roast beans that retain some of their distinct origin flavors, the dark roast beans don’t have any, which leads to less diversity in taste.

The longer the coffee roasts, the more it loses its original flavors, getting its taste from the roasting process. This is why most people refer to the taste of dark coffee as burnt, bitter, and smoky.

The dark roast is referred to by different French, espresso, Italian, Spanish, or New Orleans roast.

They are a better choice for espresso brewing because it is consistent and well-rounded. These coffee beans have low acidity, rich chocolate taste, nutty aroma, mild bitterness, a heavy body with deep and sweet flavors.

Even darker?

When you think the dark roast can’t get darker, you find out that some people want their coffee even darker. The darker roast coffee is roasted further, resulting in black coffee beans and a heavy layer of oil. It is referred to as French, Vienna, or Italian roast.

Most of the coffee beans used for darker roasts are beans of low quality; the taste and origin don’t have a place, so it doesn’t matter if the roasting destroys its flavor; unlike specialty beans, the source has its unique taste.

The darker roast coffee beans have no acidity, lots of bitterness, undistinguishable flavor, and ash carbon notes.

Flavors of dark roast coffee

The roasting process plays a significant role in the flavor of the coffee beans, but the roasting defines its flavor; this is why the dark roast has uniform aromas and tastes.

The taste is far from bland as it has tasted like chocolate, spices, toasted nuts, caramel, and an important note defined as woody, smoky, and earthy. Some black roasts have to balance bright and fruity tones like apples, berries, and cherries.

Levels of dark roast

For coffee beans to be referred to as a dark roast, they must attain an internal temperature of 464 degrees F. It is when it gets to this point that the oil inside the coffee begins to migrate to the outer part, giving dark roast the sheen characteristic. If the coffee beans roast beyond 463 degrees F, it gives you a different dark roast type.

The coffee has different roast levels, with the lightest roast referred to as an Italian roast. A roast slightly darker than the Italian roast is called an espresso roast, a little darker, and you have the French roast. The darkest roast is the Spanish roast; it is an almost charred flavor.

Different manufactures have a standard for their roasting level; hence, roasters use these names interchangeably. When shopping for dark roast beans, it is advised that you buy the ones with flavors you love rather than using the roast’s name as a guide.

Bean origin doesn’t matter for dark roasts.

Unlike light roasts that the origin and the roasting process strongly influence the flavor, dark roast coffee doesn’t follow that pattern. The smoky and toasted notes overshadow the original flavors present in the green coffee beans for dark roast coffee.

Darker vs. stronger

In the world of coffee, there is a myth surrounding caffeine content. People believe that because the dark roast is darker, bitter, and has a stronger taste, it should also contain more caffeine than the lighter and medium roasts.

Some other people believe that caffeine is lost during the roasting process, and as such, dark roast coffee that is roasted for longer has lesser caffeine than light roast or medium roast. This myth is not exactly true.

The caffeine content in the coffee is not determined by the roast but rather by the mass of the coffee. During the roasting process, the mass of the coffee beans reduces; if you measure your coffee in scoops, you will find out that the lighter roasts contain more caffeine because it’s denser than other roasts.

Best Dark Roast Coffee

Many people prefer dark coffee over light and medium roasts because of its strong taste. Luckily, a dark roast coffee doesn’t mean masking the bad taste of bad or low-quality beans. There are various dark-quality roast beans available on the market, some of which we have reviewed below.

Death Wish

Do not take the literal meaning of this coffee name to heart, as you do not need to have such a wish to enjoy this coffee brand. Death wish roast coffee is regarded as the strongest coffee in the world.

This dark roast is strong but not bitter and has subtle flavors like cherry and chocolate. It is sustainably sourced and has low acidity.

We stated above that caffeine differences caused by roasting level is a myth, but the producers of death wish coffee have found a way to make it a reality. They claim that a cup of dark roast coffee contains more caffeine than any regular dark roast. How did they do this?

They make their dark roast from the blend of Arabica and Robusta beans; Robusta beans naturally have a higher caffeine content that enhances focus and clarity. The company also uses a slow roasting process, which allows them to produce coffee higher in strength than the average cup naturally.

They roast their beans in small batches to ensure consistency and quality. If you are after energy and do not mind the possible after-effect of jitters and caffeine hits, then go ahead and purchase this coffee.


  • India and Peru Origin
  • Chocolate and cherry notes
  • Arabica and Robusta blend
  • Ground or whole beans

What we love

  • Complex taste
  • Flavorful

What can be improved

  • Pricey

Kicking Horse, Kickass Dark Roast

The kicking horse is sustainably sourced from South America and Indonesia and gotten from 100% Arabica beans that were shade-grown. The roasting process is done in the rocky Canadian mountains, and the company gives back to the farmers.

The coffee from kicking the horse is smoky, audacious, and sweet. It lacks the burnt flavor associated with dark roast coffee. It has a strong and flavorful taste appreciated by coffee lovers who only take light roasts.

The primary tasting notes are licorice, molasses, chocolate malt, and an earthy finish. Other tasting notes are brown sugar, hazelnuts, and cacao nibs. If you love a cup of coffee with a full taste with no acidity, then this is your best choice.


  • 100 Arabica beans
  • Sustainably sourced
  • Ground
  • Indonesia and South America origin

What we love

  • Bold taste
  • Chocolate malt and Molasses notes
  • Full flavor with no acidity

What can be improved

  • Poor packaging

Don Pablo Whole Bean Dark Roast

Don Pablo is a true artisanal roaster of quality beans, and this medium roast doesn’t fall short. This decaf coffee has a great taste, full flavor and is processed with water rather than synthetic chemicals.

Generally, dark roast contains lesser caffeine than lighter roasts, and it has lower acidity. If your health won’t allow you to take the regular coffee because of the caffeine content, the decaf dark roast coffee is a great option.

Many decaf coffees have issues with taste, but the Don Pablo decaf does not have such a problem. It is a medium-dark roast, which means coffee lovers who shy away from dark roast should not have a problem purchasing this decaf.

It is affordable and won’t put a dent in your pocket to purchase. A unique blend from Colombia, Brazil, and Guatemala, it is full-bodied and has a smooth cocoa-toned finish with a slight acidity.


  • Whole beans
  • Medium-dark roast

What we love

  • Affordable
  • Great Flavor
  • Water-based processing

What can be improved

  • Bags not vacuumed sealed
  • Not fully dark

Koffee Kult Beans Dark Roasted

Koffee Kult is one of the rare roasters that has expanded without sacrificing good quality. It is roasted in small batches, packed immediately, and shipped to Florida a few hours after roasting.

The coffee is organic and sourced from Columbia, Sumatra, and Guatemala to make a perfect blend. Made from high-quality beans, the Koffee Kult dark roast coffee is strong and bold with a smooth taste that lacks bitterness.

The beans are slow-roasted up to the second crack to achieve a rich and flavorful brew. It is full-flavored and has a heavy body that is smooth with hints of cinnamon. Its great aroma that fills up a room when brewed distinguishes it from other dark roast coffee.

It has a sweet lingering finish that makes you feel like you are drinking dark liquid chocolate.


  • Cinnamon and chocolate notes
  • 100% Arabica
  • Colombia, Guatamela, and Sumatra sourced

What we love

  • Balanced taste
  • No bitter taste
  • Great Aroma

What can be improved

  • A bit burnt
  • Zipped container

Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend

The Peet brand is known for its signature blends which are well crafted; compared to other roasters who sell at a similar rate, they pay considerable attention to details. The Major Dickson’s blend dark roast coffee is complex, smoky, full-bodied, and produces the rich symbol and flavorful taste that is a known feature of Peet’s coffee.

The coffee is hand-roasted in small batches to ensure maximum freshness; sourced from across Central America, the coffee beans are 100% Arabica grown at high altitudes. The dark coffee beans are roasted a little beyond the first crack to attain a bright, balanced, and medium-bodied coffee.

The product of this coffee, when brewed, is a lively, sweet, and comforting Latin blend that is rich with a pleasant spiciness and crisp citrus finish.


  • 100% Arabica
  • Citrus & Sweet notes
  • Sourced from Central America

What we love

  • It is affordable
  • Smoky & full-bodied

What can be improved

  • Goes stale quickly
  • Regular

Buyers Guide

When purchasing, look for freshly roasted, aromatic beans with your favorite flavor. Dark roast typically has oil sheen; the best way to identify stale beans is to look out for dryness.

To achieve the best flavor, you should buy whole beans and grind yourself just before your brew; this way, your coffee will not quickly go stale, and you will always have a fresh taste.


Is dark roast coffee stronger than other lighter roasts?

No, the drink is not stronger than a light roast. It is a misconception that the roasting level affects the caffeine content. If you want a stronger coffee, you only need to add more grounds when brewing.

How do I reduce the bitterness of my coffee?

Dark roasted coffees generally are a bit more bitter than lighter roasts, but you can avoid the bitterness by purchasing quality beans and brewing your coffee correctly. You can sprinkle a pinch of salt to your grounds or add cream, milk, or sugar to your coffee after brewing.

Is dark roast coffee healthier than lighter roasts?

No, dark roasted is not inherently healthier than lighter roasts. It contains lesser acidity than the light roast, which is good for you if you have acid sensitivity.

Can I take my dark roast iced?

Dark roast tastes good, either iced or hot; you can brew both ways.

In conclusion, when it comes to roasting coffee beans, there is no right or wrong roast; it all depends on your preference. You might prefer the bright, floral, and fruity notes of the light and medium roasts or the solid, kick-in-the-gut caffeine hit from the dark roast.

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