It would not be an unfair statement of fact/criticism of me to say that I prefer light-roasted coffee. Sure, a nice ristretto shot using a developed coffee is lovely once every year or so, but I’m hardly going out of my way to find one. And perhaps it is this inherent bias that leads me to scientific research substantiating my already held beliefs—ones I have no interest in changing—that light roast is in fact better. So for the sake of fairness, I’d like to give equal time to the darker arts: new research indicates that dark roast coffee may be better at reducing the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s than light roast.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, the new study is the product of the Krembil Brain Institute in Toronto, who tested for the presence of phenylindanes, a compound believed to prevent “two protein fragments” commonly associated with the diseases. Phenylindanes occur naturally during the roasting process, so the thinking goes that the more the coffee is roasted, the more phenylindanes and the more beneficial it is for brain health.
To test this theory, researchers measured the phenylindanes count in three different types of Starbucks VIA instant coffee—light roast, dark roast, and decaf dark roast. They found their hypothesis to be correct: dark roast had the highest concentration of the compound.
But before we all start searching for third crack, researchers still aren’t entirely sure how it is that phenylindanes interact with proteins. And Howard Bauchner, editor in chief of the medical journal JAMA and The JAMA Network, is quick to note that almost all coffee studies only show associations between consuming coffee and the potential effect; the causal relationship is never proved. This study is no different.
But still, dark roast coffee may be better for you brain health than light roast. And if you’re not looking to make the switch to the dark side, just do what I do: drink more light roast.
Top image via Hrtwarming.com.