Is Dark Roast Coffee More Bitter?

Many specialty coffee shops now offer the option of dark-roast beans. Though many regular drinkers enjoy the fuller, richer taste of dark roast coffee, there is also a school of thought that dark roasting can produce a particularly bitter flavor. So, is dark roast coffee really more bitter?

Is Dark Roast Coffee More Bitter?

Dark roasts taste bitter compared to light roasts. Many people describe this flavor as robust, chocolaty, bold, smoky, nutty, and savory. Dark roasting causes chemical reactions in the beans that produce more acids and greater overall acidity in the cup.

A cup of coffee on a clear small glass beside coffee beans on a white table

Because dark roasts have been roasted for longer, more sugar has been caramelized, resulting in a less sweet cup. However, the bitterness of coffee is based on several factors, including the variety of beans, how it was roasted, and even what country it comes from.

Factors That Could Influence the Bitterness of the Finished Cup of Coffee

The bitterness of coffee is also a function of:

  • The kind of bean
  • How it’s processed
  • How long it’s roasted
  • How it’s brewed

Bean Variety

The variety of beans you use can greatly impact the bitterness level of your coffee. Robusta beans are known for their high caffeine content and low acidity, which means they’re often used in instant coffees and dark roasts, while Arabica beans are higher in acidity and less bitter. If you want to reduce bitterness in your dark roast, try swapping some Robusta for Arabica in your blend.

Bean Source Origin

The country of origin is one of the factors that could influence the bitterness of your coffee. This is because different countries have different levels of acidity in their water, which can affect the taste of the coffee.

For example, if you are drinking a cup of Ethiopian coffee, it would be more bitter than the same type of coffee from Brazil or Colombia. This is because Ethiopia has a high level of acidity in its water.

Bean Quality

Quality coffee shouldn’t be bitter. If you’re drinking cheap coffee, it’s likely to be bitter because it’s not as fresh and hasn’t been properly dried or stored.

Grind Size

If you grind coffee too finely, there will be more surface area for tannins to leach into your brew. This will make it more bitter than if you grind it coarsely.

Brewing Time

The longer coffee is steeped, the more bitter it becomes because more tannins leach into the brew as time passes.

How to Make Your Dark Roast Coffee Less Bitter

The bitterness of dark roast coffee is a natural result of the roasting process. To make your dark-roast coffee less bitter, use these tips:

Clean Your Equipment

You might not be aware that your coffee maker or grinder could be the source of some bitterness. If you’re using a drip machine, clean it regularly. Also, if you’re grinding your beans with an electric grinder, clean it regularly.

Avoid Over-Steeping Your Coffee

If you’re making a cup of pour-over coffee (a method of brewing where hot water slowly drips through ground coffee), then you need to keep an eye on how long the water is in contact with the grounds.

If you go past 2 minutes, then it’s likely that some of those natural oils will start coming out into the brew, which can cause bitterness in your final cup of coffee. To avoid this happening, use a timer so that you know when exactly 2 minutes are up!

Arabica coffee beans on a shot glass and the table against a gray background

Use Coarse Grinds

Using a fine grind will result in more surface area exposure to water and heat during brewing, which can cause bitterness in your cup of coffee. A coarse grind will result in less contact time between the grounds and water, which makes it easier for you to extract all the flavors from the bean.

Related Questions

Is Dark Roast Coffee Stronger Tasting?

Dark roast coffee is stronger-tasting. This is because dark roasts are roasted longer than light roasts. This means that the oils and flavors of the bean are more concentrated in a dark roast than in a light roast. So when you brew dark roast beans, you’ll get more flavor per cup than if you use a light roast.

Can Salt Make Dark-Roast Coffee Less Bitter?

Adding salt to your dark roast coffee can reduce its bitterness because salt enhances my perception of sweetness. According to research, when I encounter salty foods or drinks, my brains become more sensitive to sweetness and other pleasant tastes — like those in coffee!

Which Coffee Beans Make Less Bitter Coffee?

Arabica beans produce less bitter coffee than Robusta beans. Although Arabica beans are pricier, they make coffee with more flavor and less bitterness. Try Kona region, Brazil, or Costa Rica Arabica beans for a less bitter cup.


Dark roast coffee beans are more bitter than light-roast ones. They range from robust (strong) and chocolaty to smoky, nutty, and savory. The flavor of dark roast coffee is enhanced by grinding right before brewing and choosing a brewing method that blends well with your preferred flavor profile.