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The Interesting Flavors of French Roast Coffee

Dave Carter

October 12, 2020

French roast coffee is a popular coffee roast style that many avid coffee lovers and drinkers prefer. It falls under the dark roasts coffee category, providing an unusual smoky sweetness and sometimes exhibiting a charred taste that most love. At the same time, many don't, causing some coffee aficionados to refer to the roast as 'burnt' coffee. Most French coffee roasts are double roasted, giving you a thin body and mouthfeel.

Compared to lighter roasts such as the cinnamon roast or blonde roast, which have high acidity levels, French roasts are significantly less acidic and have a more roasted coffee flavor. Besides its signature smoky-sweet taste, it also provides charred or charcoal flavor notings, giving French roasts an addictive uniqueness.

Most dark roasts like French roast completely overshadow the natural flavor and aroma of the coffee beans, making it nearly impossible to taste the origin of the French roast coffee beans.

If you are hooked on the mystery of the French roasts of coffee, here's everything you need to know about the coffee French, from its distinct characteristics to its origin.

The Defining Characteristics of French Roast Coffee​

The best types of coffee tend to have unique characteristics that make them a universal favorite among dedicated coffee lovers. Although French roasts consist of dark roasted coffee beans, not every dark roast is the same. The internal bean temperature that each coffee bean goes through while inside the roaster distinguishes French roast of coffee to any dark roast variation.

Each dark roast has a relatively narrow temperature range, and inside this range, you can get at least four different roast types, including dark-roasted French roast beans, Spanish roasts, and Full City or Full City plus roasts. These beans range from dark brown when the natural oils of the coffee are visible to nearly black and oily like the Spanish roast.

Because of the different roasting processes that each dark roasted coffee bean undergoes, the typical French roast beans provide the following distinct characteristics.

Very Dark​

The temperature that French roast beans undergo is high enough to bring the coffee beans' natural oils to the surface, giving your brew roasted and smoky flavor. Many coffee fanatics tend to describe this particular darker roast to have a nearly burnt or smoky flavor.


Your favorite French roast also features lighter elements, such as berry tangy, berry-like, or citrusy aroma, despite its extensive dark roasting process. Besides its signature smoky taste, each bean you brew provides a sweetness that compliments its smoky elements perfectly.

Less Acidic than Lighter Roasts​

Because a French roast falls under the dark roast category, it contains lower acidity levels than lighter roasts. A study published in 2010 proved that darker roast beans are easier on a person's stomach than lighter roasts. Darker roast beans produce a specific ingredient that prevents hydrochloric acid from building up inside the stomach, called the N-Methylpyridinium.

It Has Less Caffeine​

A common misconception about French roast coffees and other darker roast beans is that they tend to have higher caffeine content. However, it's the opposite. Lighter roasted beans contain higher caffeine levels because of its shorter roasting process, leaving the substance intact inside the bean. In contrast, French roast coffee beans tend to have less caffeine because of its extended roasting time, burning more of the caffeine, leaving the darkest beans with the lowest caffeine levels.

Intense and Bold​

Because French roast coffee beans undergo a longer extensive roasting process, the resulting brews from this particular roast tend to be bolder, giving you a caffeinated drink that has a more robust flavor. When indulging in French roast coffee, you'll likely notice that you taste the body more than actual flavors.

If you're looking for unique coffees to enjoy at home, you can make coffee French. Its beans provide you with a distinct smoky, and sweet flavor that makes you want to go back for more.

What is French Roast Coffee​

After buying the best commercial espresso machine for coffee shop for your future business, you may want to add a couple of unique brews to stand out among your competition, and you can start with the classic French roast. French roast coffee is one of the several coffee roasts named for roasting styles, as coffees thrived in popularity throughout Europe in the 19th century. Today, many people use French roast as a term to describe most dark-roasted coffees. French roast coffee, Turkish coffee, Dark roasts, and espresso are the names applied to a degree of roast of beans that produces dark brown to black coffee beans.

In French roast coffee, the beans are well into the second crack of the roasting process, providing you with beans that are colored dark brown and boasting a shiny surface from its oils. Coffees brewed from these particular roasted beans tend to have the natural flavors of the beans muted, particularly any acidic notes, making the brew less acidic and bolder.

Making French Roast Coffee​

When making French roast during its roasting process, the beans' internal temperature can reach 464 degrees Fahrenheit. As the coffee roasts get darker, the coffee beans' color darkens, and more natural coffee oils emerge on the surface. These result in dark brown French roasted beans and shimmering with oil.

The beans typically undergo the roasting process below.

  1. French roast coffee beans need to be held in a roaster with an internal temperature of 400°F or higher for the first five minutes of roasting. The high heat application helps in preserving the internal moisture of the beans.
  2. After the initial 5 minutes, the beans begin to develop its full flavors, and you'll hear the first crack around 360°F, releasing carbon dioxide and water vaporization from expansion. This time is when you stop roasting for lighter roasts.
  3. As the internal temperature rises, between 360°F and 395°F, the bens begin to turn darker brown, resulting in the Maillard reaction or the medium roast.
  4. Once the beans' internal temperature reaches over 400°F, it will produce a second crack, indicating it reached the dark roast standards, giving you your favorite roasted coffee.

Bittersweet and a distinct smoky flavor from the roast will dominate the overall taste of the resulting brew. French roast coffee is prevalent in coffee associated in the west, and many coffee shops or professional baristas use this roast profile when making American espresso.

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What is Different about French Roast Coffee​

French roast coffee is one of the darkest roasts on the scale, providing rick smoky, burnt, but sweet flavors, providing unique brews to start your day right. Most people use the roast for making American espressos because of its thin body and intense coffee flavor, making it a versatile, robust drink. So before making a beverage using French roast coffee, make sure you read your Cuisinart automatic grind and brew coffee maker instructions for the best results.

But what makes this particular roast so popular? What makes it so different from other roasts? Below are the unique characteristics that French roast coffee offers.

  • Its beans are much darker than other roasts, and when compared to light roasts, it appears nearly black or burnt.
  • Brews you get from a French roast offers a more robust and bolder flavor because of the extended period of roasting, giving you a rich-tasting caffeinated drink to start the day with a kick in your step.
  • It contains more oils on the surface than most roasts because, after the second crack of the roasting process, natural oils from the coffee start to emerge on the surface of the beans.
  • It features lower acidity levels than other roasts because the longer roasting process the coffee undergoes burns off more caffeine.
  • French roasts exhibit a unique burnt and smoky taste with subtle hints of sweetness, making it the perfect brew for hectic mornings.

If you're tired of sipping on the same cup of joe every morning, make your days better by ordering French roast coffee at your favorite local coffee shop or make one at home. Indulge in a unique smoky-sweet flavor that will 100% delight your taste buds.

Is French Roast Coffee Strong?​

After discovering how much coffee for French press you should use when making your favorite brews, you may wonder, is French roast coffee strong? A common misconception about dark roasted beans is that they're stronger than lighter roasts because of their full-bodied and more robust flavors, however, when it comes to strength and caffeine content, lighter roasts are far more potent. That's because light roast coffee tends to retain the caffeine of the beans, giving you higher caffeine levels than standard darker roasts.

French roast beans undergo a longer roasting process, burning most traces of caffeine, giving you a milder brew. However, the roasted coffee is strong when it comes to flavor, offering dark, smoky flavors and aromas, effectively perking you up with its pungent taste.

Is French Roast Coffee Bitter?​

Even when you use different types of the best coffee beans, like with other dark roasted coffees, French roast coffee tends to taste bitter and pungent, making it a robust brew and not for the faint of heart. The bitterness is due to the carbonization of fibers inside the coffee beans. This factor can provide other dark roast variations a perfect balance of smoky or charcoal-like flavor that people enjoy. Although French roast coffee offers the same tastes, some people may deem it to be too overpowering.

You can use coarse grind your roasted beans and use a French press to bring the roast's sweeter flavors. You can also try adding salt to your ground coffee to balance out the bitterness of the brew.

French Roast vs. Dark Roast​

When you finally learned how to use a drip coffee maker and want to experiment on different roasts, particular darker roasts, you may get confused between their differences. In the subcategory of various dark roasts, they exhibit very similar characteristics, but they still offer subtle differences. Below are the distinct differences that French roast coffee has over other darker roasts.

Full City or Full City Plus​

These roasts are considered the next definable roast on the lighter side of your favorite French roast coffee. The difference they have with the latter is that they only feature minimal oil spots on the surface than the very oily surface of the other.

Espresso Roast​

There's a lot of confusion between espresso roasts and a standard French roast as some coffee roasters claim that roast is slightly lighter than the latter while others disagree and say it's more robust. However, when it comes to their beans and flavor, they're mostly the same roast. Both are colored dark brown and emit a very oil shiny surface with burnt and smoky undertones.

Spanish and Italian Roast​

While most individuals believe that French or the espresso roast is the darkest among the darker roasts, neither are. The Spanish or Italian roast is the darkest beans you can get, easily distinguishable by the beans' nearly black color and slick oily surface. The flavor of these roasts is flat with subtle smokey and charcoal-like undertones. And the roasting process of these roasts is typically more dangerous and a potential fire hazard than other darker roasts.

Conclusion: How best to enjoy French Roast Coffee?​

Although French roast coffee is a popular drink that many coffee lovers consider to be their go-to drinks, the beans of this particular roast do get stale fast, so the best way to enjoy your French roast is by brewing the beans when they're fresh. The peak freshness of these beans is between 2 to 3 weeks after its roasting, so indulge in this dark roast while it lasts.


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