Best Dark Roast Coffee: 6 Brands for the Perfect Brew (2023)
It probably doesn’t surprise anyone to learn 66 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee daily. In 2020, 41 percent of those coffee drinkers reported they preferred dark roast coffee above all.
With low acidity levels, bold flavor, and a slew of possible health benefits, dark roast is a stellar choice for coffee lovers everywhere.
The 6 Best Dark Roast Coffees of 2023
Without further ado, here are this year’s six best dark roast coffee options for the discerning coffee drinker who wants to savor the best dark roast coffees from the comfort of their home.
Lifeboost Embolden Dark Roast: Best Overall
Exclusive: Lifeboost currently offers Emergent Brew readers free shipping and 50% off 3 12-oz. bags of their premium coffee. Use this link to get the special offer.
Lifeboost’s Embolden Dark Roast is a classic French roast coffee with a vibrant aroma, a delectable aftertaste, and a full body that will blow you away.
Lifeboost uses hand-picked coffee beans that are washed with spring water and then sundried. They don’t roast the beans until they receive an order, so your beans are sure to be fresh and delicious.
Lifeboost goes above and beyond for its customers by utilizing 3rd party testing for mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides, and more than 400 other toxins.
The beans are grown without pesticides and are selected for harvest by local farmers. Lifeboost then processes and roasts the beans at higher temperatures for longer roast times.
These exceptional, 100% single-origin, Arabica beans are all grown in the mountain shade and are guaranteed Fair Trade certified.
Our opinion? This is the best dark roast coffee you can find. I’d say, give it a try and see if you agree with us!
Koa Coffee Kona Estate Dark Roast: Best Hawaiian Dark Roast
There is a region of Hawaii known as the Kona Coffee Belt. It is located on Hualalai and Mauna Loa. This region is famous for producing Hawaiian-grown Guatemalan Typica beans.
Used for the world-famous Kona coffee, these beans have complex flavor notes of caramel, honey, brown sugar, and dark chocolate.
Koa Coffee uses premium, hand-picked Kona beans and relies on an expert roasting process to produce a superb finished product shipped from Hawaii to your door.
Koa’s Kona Estate Dark Roast has won several awards, including the Gevalia Cupping Competition and PCCA’s coveted Coffee of the Year award. Forbes Magazine even dubbed it one of the Top 10 Coffees in the world and the best coffee in America. And we agree: it’s some of the best dark roast coffee on the market.
Estate Kona for Koa Coffee comes from a single Kona farm that only produces coffee beans. The beans grow at a very high elevation for a singular taste and quality you can’t find anywhere else.
1st in Coffee Papua New Guinea Beans: Best For Versatile Palates
While most of the coffees on this list are straight-up dark roast offerings, this one is a little different. 1st in Coffee’s Papua New Guinea variety is an excellent choice for dark roast lovers, but if you like light roasts they work just as well.
The beans come from Papua New Guinea. They are mountain-grown Arabica beans harvested anywhere from 1400 to 1800 meters above sea level.
Coffee beans came to Papua New Guinea in the 1920s in the form of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee beans. In this new soil, the beans took on a new life but still held onto those rich, bright, zesty, creamy origin flavors.
Papua New Guinea Beans are freshly roasted weekly and packaged in resealable valve bags. You can purchase the beans in a 12-ounce size or buy a 5-pound bag and get a discounted bulk price.
The locals call the rain forests of Papua New Guinea Namugo. Namugo is full of rolling hills and steep mountain ranges that produce some of the world’s best coffee beans. They have a unique flavor profile with bright lemon and rich toffee notes.
Volcanica Dark Roast: Best Ground Dark Roast
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Most of the offerings on this list feature whole coffee beans because it’s generally better to grind your beans for the best flavors possible.
Even so, sometimes you need some pre-ground coffee on a busy morning when time is of the essence. That’s where Volcanica Dark Roast comes in handy.
Volcanica is a specialty roast brand that is known for exotic coffee offerings from far-flung volcanic regions around the globe.
Volcanic soil is full of minerals that produce aromatic, full-bodied coffees and Volcanica offers more than 150 different kinds of coffee including decaffeinated and flavored coffee options.
Volcanica’s Dark Roast coffee is the company’s darkest roast with a special blend of beans from Guatemala, Sumatra, and Columbia. When it comes to grounded coffee, this is some of the best dark roast coffee out there.
This combination produces an aromatic, pungent, complex, smoky coffee that follows up with caramel and chocolate notes.
Hawaii Coffee Company Lion Dark Roast Taster Pack: Best Dark Roast Bundle
If you like a little variety and want to try a dark roast coffee bundle, this is a perfect choice. You get to enjoy three different dark roast coffees with all the intense, potent flavors you crave.
You’ll get 3 bags of pre-ground coffee including a 10-ounce bag of Lion Diamond Head Roast, a 10-ounce bag of Lion French Roast, and an 8-ounce bag of Lion Antioxidant French Roast.
Head Roast is an Italian-style roast with a full-bodied flavor and a surprisingly zesty taste. It’s great for making your espresso at home.
Lion’s French Roast brings a smoky, bold, flair to the classic French roast and the Antioxidant French Roast boasts antioxidants from Hawaiian Coffee Fruit additives.
Bulletproof Coffee French Kick: Best For Keto Diets
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It can be tough to find the right keto coffee when you’re trying to stick to a Keto diet. Thankfully Bulletproof Coffee is here to help with all your Keto-friendly coffee needs.
Their take on a French roast is smooth and decadent, featuring hints of hazelnut, cinnamon, cocoa, orange, and plum. Bulletproof only uses high-quality, hand-picked beans for the best, boldest flavors around.
They thoroughly test the beans for impurities for clean, pure, coffee that won’t give you the jitters.
Bulletproof is Rainforest Alliance Certified, which means they only use ingredients and practices that support local farms, families, and rainforest communities in the region.
Bulletproof’s products are free from dyes, soy, and gluten. They are also certified non-GMO. If you’re on a keto diet, this is the best dark roast coffee for you.
How is Dark Roast Coffee Made?
After harvesting, coffee beans are stored in a raw, green state to ensure longer shelf life. Green coffee beans are spongy, soft, and smell like grass.
The roasting process changes a raw coffee bean into a flavorful, roasted coffee bean. The chemical changes brought on by the roasting process produce that signature coffee smell and taste we love so much.
When the beans reach an internal temperature of 465 to 480 degrees Fahrenheit, the coffee is then considered a dark roast. These temperatures make for oily, shiny beans with a pronounced bitter taste.
Dark roasts are also called New Orleans, European, High, and Italian roasts.
What Does Dark Roast Coffee Taste Like?
Dark roast coffee beans develop a more intense flavor during the roasting process. Dark roasts are spicy, earthy, woody, smoky, and even chocolatey.
The best dark roast coffees have a heavier texture and body than medium or light roasts and have much more pungent aromas.
Dark roast beans are bold and nutty, owing a smoky flavor to the oil on the surface of the coffee bean.
Most dark roasts have lost the majority of their original flavors and tend to take on sweet, rich roasting profiles instead.
Lighter Roast Options
Light roast beans cook at a temperature of 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because they roast at lower temperatures for shorter periods, light roasts retain much more of their original flavor profiles. The lighter the roast, the more natural flavors you will taste.
Light roasts are called citric, bright, herby, and floral. There are usually sweet, tangy, and fruity notes with a lighter roast. Lightly roasted beans produce a more delicate body because they undergo less caramelization in the roasting process.
These lighter roasts are called Light City roasts, Half City roasts, and cinnamon roasts.
With a medium roast, the beans reach an internal temperature of 410 to 418 degrees Fahrenheit. Medium roasts fall right in the middle of light and dark roasts.
Medium roast coffees have a medium brown color and a thicker body than light roasts. At this temperature, the coffee beans start to develop more taste from caramelization in the roasting process.
Medium roasts provide a balanced middle ground between light and dark roasts. They are also called American roasts, City roasts, and Breakfast roasts.
Medium-dark roasts stay on for several more minutes than Medium roasts. Roasting ends once the coffee beans start popping a second time. This stage of the roasting process is called the Second Crack.
Medium-dark roasts develop a spicy flavor and subtle hints of chocolate and caramel. Some might produce a bittersweet or tangy taste, while many begin to develop a distinct smokiness.
At this juncture, coffee beans begin to develop a slightly oily sheen. That reaction occurs because the oils inside the bean rise to the surface.
Medium-dark roasts are also called full roasts, light espresso roasts, and after-dinner roasts.
Is Dark Roast Coffee Stronger?
The flavor, aroma, and color of coffee beans all intensify during a longer roasting process, but caffeine levels are somewhat different.
The caffeine concentration doesn’t get more intense with a longer roast time; it does quite the opposite. The lighter the roast the higher the caffeine content, and vice-versa.
It’s kind of like cooking with alcohol in the kitchen. The cooking process heats up and cooks off the alcohol faster at higher temperatures just like a longer roasting time does with caffeine.
What to Pair With Dark Roast Coffee
There are lots of great food to pair with the best dark roast coffees, some that might surprise you and others you’re familiar with.
Crispy, spicy, and cream-based dishes are all stunning choices to enjoy with a dark roast. The same goes for rich food and dark chocolate dishes like truffles and cake.
Cream-based soups and curries are delicious paired with a dark roast. So are spicy foods and rich sauces.
Try dark roasts with pungent, bitter choices like yogurt, cheesecake, or even crème brûlée for a lovely flavor combination that will rock your tastebuds.
You can even pair it with strong cheeses like Camembert, blue cheese, and Roquefort.
Lighter or medium roasts might fall flat next to overpowering cheese flavors like this, but dark roasts are bold enough to do the job.
Best Dark Roast Coffee Beans
There are hundreds of different kinds of coffee beans out there from far-flung regions all over the globe.
The following coffee beans are typically noted as the best kind of beans for dark roast coffee.
This rare Indonesian coffee bean has a well-known rich taste and produces a heavy, smooth, exotic flavored coffee.
The beans hold up to the dark roast process, and the final product adopts an earthy, rich, syrupy flavor.
You can taste delightful hints of toffee and hibiscus notes when the beans are used for dark roasts. It’s no wonder these Indonesian beans are so rare and sought after.
When most people think of good coffee beans, Colombian coffee often is the first that comes to mind. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that Columbia is the 2nd largest coffee producer worldwide.
Colombian Supremo coffee beans are the largest beans found in Colombia. They are Arabica beans grown high in the Columbian Andes mountains.
They are wet processed to better highlight the famous Colombian coffee flavors we all know and love. When you use Colombia Supremo beans, hints of herbs, chocolate, and nuts emerge. So does a spicy aroma and an almost tropical finish.
These rare, African coffee beans grow in the Mbeya Region of Tanzania. They produce a smooth, full-bodied coffee with rich flavor notes like peach, lemon, and black tea.
People also call them Caracol or Caracolo (which translates to “little snail” in Spanish) because the beans develop a single oval-shaped bean rather than the typical set of flat coffee beans.
Some people think peaberries are superior to flat beans because all that flavor is concentrated in one single bean. In actuality, the rounded shape makes the roasting process easier.
The Antigua region of Guatemala is home to a wide range of high-quality, flavorful coffee beans. Many of them make for brilliant dark roast coffees.
Southern Guatemala has altitudes of up to 1,700 meters and plenty of daily rainfall in the wet season. This winning combination produces some of the finest coffee beans in the world.
Three different volcanoes provide the region with nutritious soils that bring out the rich flavors of these famous Guatemala Antigua coffee beans.
Storing Dark Roast Coffee Beans
You must keep your coffee beans away from heat, moisture, air, and light while storing them to ensure a longer shelf life.
We advise you to store them in an airtight container at room temperature. It’s better to have an opaque container, as clear canisters allow too much light in.
Storing coffee beans in a cold and dark location will keep them fresher for longer. Try to keep them away from heat sources like ovens and other appliances.
The Final Verdict
Lifeboost gets the best dark roast coffee distinction due to its unique taste, sustainable practices, and health benefits.
The other brands mentioned offer wonderful products for every dark roast aficionado out there.
Now that you have your choices narrowed down, and a bit more knowledge about dark roast coffees, you’re sure to find the perfect brand for you in no time!