Coffee Lesson of the Day

Sometimes even the most frequent coffee drinkers (such as myself) don’t know their way around basic coffee lingo, or what differences are between a light and dark roast coffee, or what a Robusta and Arabica roast is. Don’t feel embarrassed, I absolutely love coffee, and I didn’t know as much as I thought I did either.

Here’s a little coffee lesson to help you feel more knowledgeable the next time you step into a coffee shop.

The difference between:


Light Roast                                                             Dark Roast

Dark roasted beans are roasted for a longer period of time and at higher temperatures in a dark roast.

– A light roast brings out the character of the coffee. It’s more like eating a filet mignon cooked medium rare. A dark roast would be like eating a filet mignon cooked well done.
– A light roast has a more sweet and floral taste to it.

– A dark roast is not necessarily “stronger”, it’s just different. It’s like comparing an IPA to a stout – the two are not compared just by their strength but in terms of richness, complexity and how they’re prepared.
– A dark roast has more of a bittersweet flavour to it.


– Arabica contains half as much caffeine as a Robusta bean.
– 70% of the world’s coffee is Arabica.
– Arabica roasts have a sweeter and softer taste

– Robusta beans have twice as much caffeine as Arabica
– 30% of the world’s coffee is Robusta.
– Robusta roasts have a stronger, harsher taste.

Arabica and Robusta beans are two different species of coffee, and all the coffee you drink falls into one of these two categories. Robusta coffee plants can grow at lower altitudes and produce fruits more quickly than Arabica. Robustas mostly come from Africa and Indonesia, while the more expensive Arabica beans primarily come from Latin America.

Espresso v. Drip

coffee coffee

– Espresso is made by forcing very hot water under high pressure through finely grind coffee.
– Higher concentration of caffeine, ounce for ounce
– This high pressure produces a “crema,” which is the creamy, golden layer floating on the top of an espresso. Combining the crema with steamed milk is what creates the texture and flavour of a latte.

– Drip coffee is made by pouring boiling water over medium coarse grounds.  This passes through a filter and winds up in a coffee pot.
– Drip coffee has a lower concentration of caffeine than an espresso, ounce for ounce, but you typically wind up drinking more of it so your buzz depends on your intake.

Cafe Latte v. Cappuccino


A cappuccino is prepared with less steamed milk, but actually ends up with more milk foam on top than a latte.

– A café latte has a little bit of foam on the top
– Contains more steamed milk than a cappuccino
– Creamier flavor

– Cappuccinos have a lot of foam on the top
– Contains less steamed milk than a latte
– The flavour is more dry in compassion to a cafe latte

Cafe Latte v. Cafe au Lait


The difference between a café latte and a café au lait is pretty basic: a latte is made from espresso and a café au lait is made from drip coffee.


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