French Press Dark Roast vs Light Roast (Which Is Superior?)

french press dark roast vs light roast

With a French Press maker, every cup of coffee you brew will be full of flavor. But which roast works best for your French Press; dark roast or light roast?

As a general rule, dark roast beans are best for the French Press. The reason is that dark roasts are oilier and easier to extract than lighter roasts. As a result, dark roast beans will give the maximum flavor and richness to your coffee.

Despite that, there are some pros and cons to choosing one roast over the other. And as with all things coffee-related, the best choice is ultimately what tastes best for you.

Keep reading to see what each roast can bring to your French Press coffee!

Which Roast Is Best For French Press Coffee?

Typically, we’d recommend choosing a darker roast for French Press coffee. There are two factors that make dark roast the better choice.

First, the French Press is an immersion brewing method so your coffee will retain all of the bean’s oils, sugars, and acids. This is why French Press coffee is known for having a deep, rich flavor and a full body.

(Check out our article “Full-Bodied Coffee” to learn more about coffee body)

Second, dark roasts have more oils and it’s far easier to extract coffee from them. So when you use dark roast beans, you’re getting much more flavor than if you choose light roasts.

When you combine these two factors, you can see that dark roast will result in the richest, most flavorful cup of coffee possible from this brewer.

But as we mentioned earlier, there are pros and cons to light and dark roasts. Let’s quickly discuss them and how they affect your French Press coffee.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Using Dark Roast Coffee In A French Press

Pros of using darker roast coffees:

  • Your coffee will have a fuller body and deeper flavor
  • More caramelization of the sugars
  • Shorter brewing time

Cons of using darker roast coffees:

  • More likely to have sediment
  • Very little of the bean’s natural flavor remains
  • It may taste burnt or bitter if you’re not used to dark roast

Coffee BrandRecommended Dark Roast Coffees For French PressImage
Peet’s Major
Fresh roasted flavorful, robustcoopers
Sumatra Dark
Bold and rich with dark chocolate notes coopers
Bold with a rich taste and intense aroma
Antigua Coffee
Full-bodied, with smooth flavor and intense aroma Guatemala Antigua Coffee

Benefits and Drawbacks Of Using Light Roast Coffee In A French Press

Pros of using lighter roast coffees:

  • Retain more of the bean’s natural flavor and complexity
  • Less likely to have sediment in your cup

Cons of using lighter roast coffees:

  • May be too acidic for some people
  • Fewer caramelized sugars
  • Mild flavor and light body
  • Longer brewing time

Brewing Technique For French Press: Light Roast vs Dark Roast

Your general brewing technique won’t change whether you use light or dark roast. For example, you’ll still want to use 2 tbsp of coffee for every 6 oz of water.

(If you want to learn more about why that coffee to water ratio is best, check out our article “How Many Tbsp of Coffee Per Cup“)

You’ll also want to bloom (or not bloom), stir (or not stir) and keep most things the same.

However, to get the very best out of your French Press coffee, there are a few things you will want to adjust depending on whether you’re brewing light or dark roast.

Brewing Temperature Adjustments For Light And Dark Roast

As a general rule, the best coffee extraction happens at temperatures between 195 and 205°F. But keep in mind that because dark roasts are more brittle it’s easier to extract coffee from them than from light roasts.

As a result, darker roasts are best brewed at temperatures closer to 195°F, and lighter roasts are best brewed around 205°F.

We use a probe thermometer from Thermometer World to measure our water temperature. (If you don’t have one, this thermometer is available on Amazon).

Peet's coffee ad banner image

If you don’t want to use a thermometer, you can also estimate water temperature.

Estimating Temperature for brewing dark roast – When you see small strings of bubbles rising, your water is around 200°F. Remove your water from the heat and let it sit for 30 seconds up to 1 minute. When you begin brewing your water should be around 195°F.

Estimating Temperature for brewing light roast – When your water reaches a full boil, it’ll be around 210°F. Remove it from the heat and let it sit for 30 seconds up to a minute. When you begin brewing it should be around 205°F.

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Brewing Time Adjustments

The longer the brew, the more coffee is extracted. So, if you brew for too long, you may over-extract your coffee. By comparison, a short brew time may result in under-extracted coffee.

The recommended brew time for French Press coffee is 4 minutes. And I’ve had the best results sticking with 4 minutes for dark roast beans.

But if you’re using light roast beans, try letting your coffee brew for an extra 30 seconds so more flavor will be extracted.

Who Is Dark Roast French Press Coffee For?

Whether dark roast coffee will work best for you comes down to your own personal tastes.

I prefer dark roast coffee because I like the roasted flavor, it’s smoother, and it has less acid (which is easier on my throat).

Dark roast coffee is best for anyone who:

  • prefers coffee with deep roasted and smoky flavors
  • has a sensitive stomach or wants to drink less acidic coffee
  • can’t tolerate a lot of caffeine
  • wants their French Press coffee to have the maximum amount of coffee solubles

Coffee BrandRecommended Light Roast Coffees For French Press Image
Light Roast
Vibrant taste profile with notes of raw honey and lemoncoopers
Kenya Peaberry

Full-Bodied with complex fruit flavors Kenya Peaberry Coffee
New England
Smooth and mellow taste with a rich aroma

Smooth and flavorful low acid coffee with nutty notes

Who Is Light Roast French Press Coffee For?

Light roast coffees are a great option for people who enjoy trying specialty or single-origin coffees. Since light roasting preserves the bean’s unique flavor profile, you can really appreciate the difference in the growing conditions and farming practices.

Light roast coffee is best for people who:

  • wants to enjoy the natural, complex flavors of single-origin or specialty coffee beans
  • enjoys bright acidic coffee
  • wants coffee with a lot of caffeine
  • thinks dark roast tastes burnt or bitter

Key Takeaways: French Press Dark Roast vs Light Roast?

  • French Press is an immersion brewing method that retains all the coffee solubles
  • French Press coffee brewed with dark roast beans is richer and has a fuller body than light roast
  • Light roast beans are more acidic, have a lighter body, and retain the bean’s natural flavors
  • Dark roast can have a shorter brewing time and cooler temperature than light roast

Cheers Coffee Lovers!

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