French Roast vs Italian Roast

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, French roast and Italian roast are two terms you must’ve come across. But do you know what they actually mean? In this article we compare French roast vs Italian roast. 

You might’ve suspected that the words “French” and “Italian” have something to do with where the coffee comes from or where it’s processed. But neither is true. To know what’s the difference between these two types of coffee and more, keep reading!

What is the Difference Between French Roast and Italian Roast?

The fundamental difference between French and Italian Roasts lies in their roasting time. While both are dark roasts, the Italian roast is roasted for slightly longer than a French Roast. 

As a consequence of a more extended roasting period, the Italian roast has stronger notes. There are other nuanced differences between the French and the Italian roast. Read on to find out more about each roasting technique, then refer to the table at the end for easier comparison. 

What is French Roast?

dark roast beans

French Roast is a coffee roasting method that became popular in and around Europe in the 1800s. This roasting method is native to France and differs significantly from other European roasts like Vienna roast. 

It is one of the darkest roasts of coffee. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, it is usually between 28-35 in terms of darkness. This number is based on the Agtron Gourmet Scale

French roast coffee beans hit an internal temperature of 464 F. You can also identify French roast beans by checking their appearance. If there’s a thin layer of oil just appearing on the surface, it’s most likely a French roast. 

Taste

French roast tastes intense and earthy, with its flavor lying on the firmer side of dark roast coffee beans. Their toasted and smoky notes come from the oils exposed by the roasting method. 

However, depending on where the beans come from, they might even have some lighter notes of sweetness and citrus. French roasts also have more caffeine content than Italian.

What is Italian Roast Coffee?

italian roast

Another famous dark roast, the Italian roast, as the name suggests, first originated in Italy. It is a tough and dark roast, much darker than the French. 

Since these coffee beans have been roasted for a long time, they are incredibly charred. As a result, it’s challenging to identify the quality or the age of Italian roasts once the beans are fully roasted. 

The internal temperature of Italian roasts is between 437-446 F. The beans are roasted slowly until all the oils pop on the surface, giving the beans a rich and shiny texture. About 20-30% of their original weight is lost by the time the roasting is complete. 

Taste

Unlike their French counterparts, Italian roasts do not have any acidic notes. They are easier to digest but extremely strong in taste. The dark roasting gives them a charred note and a deeply smoky flavor. 

But even the best Italian roast coffee is not the darkest roast. So if you’re looking for an even more intense roast, you can check out Spanish roasts. 

How to Make French Roast or Italian Roast at Home?

While both French and Italian Roasts are readily available in the market if you’re the kind of person who likes to roast their coffee from scratch at home, here’s your guide to making the perfect French and Italian Roasts. 

Steps to Follow:

  1. A popcorn maker is usually the best for roasting coffee. One that works on the stovetop is optimum. 
  2. Once your popcorn maker is slightly hot, pour in your coffee beans. Keep tossing and turning them regularly to achieve a consistent color. 
  3. After a while, you will hear a cracking sound. This sound indicates that the coffee has reached a light roast. This cracking sound occurs when the energy inside the beans causes them to explode as the cell structure expands. 
  4. After a little while, you will hear another subtler cracking sound. This second crack is an indicator of a medium to dark roast. At this stage, your French roast is just about ready. You can let them stay on the heat until you see the thin coat of oil appearing on them. 
  5. If you’re seeking an Italian roast, you have to leave the beans in several seconds to a few minutes more after the second crack until the color of the beans starts to darken more. However, ensure that you are careful enough to not end up burning the beans. 

French Roast Vs. Italian Roast – Comparison Table

Now that you know how to make French Roast Vs. Italian Roast coffee, check out the comparison table below to find all the differences between French Roast vs. dark roast like Italian roast. 

Attributes French Roast Italian Roast
Roast Level Dark Dark, darker than Italian Roast.
Taste Smokey, intense flavor with mild acidic and sweet notes. Charred, almost burnt taste with no hint of acidity.
Internal Temperature 464 F 437-446 F
Preparation Roasted until the second crack Roasted for a little while even after the second crack is reached
Caffeine Content More caffeine than darker roasts like Italian or Spanish roast Less caffeine than French roast, but more than darker roasts like Spanish. 
Nutritional value Rich in chlorogenic acid, which means it contains more antioxidants. Deficient in antioxidants due to longer roasting.
Appearance Dark with a thin layer of oil. Dark with a clearly visible layer of oils that get exposed due to the prolonged roasting.

Some Coffee Beverages to Prepare Using French and Italian Roasts

Now that you’ve learned all about French Roast vs. Italian Roast Starbucks isn’t the only place you can get your desired coffee beverage. Here is some inspiration for your next cup of morning coffee that you can prepare with any dark roast coffee. 

  • Americano: It’s a refreshing espresso that’s perfect for a boost of energy in the morning. 
  • Caffe Mocha: If you’re in the mood for something chocolatey, this is the ideal beverage. 
  • Cappuccino: If you like milky coffee, a cappuccino is going to be your go-to drink.

These coffee recipes and several more can be prepared using a dark roast. You can also prepare some espressos with medium-dark roasts, but they won’t give you as intense a flavor. 

Conclusion

That was all you needed to know about French roasts vs. Italian roasts. If you’re looking for a strong shot of caffeine in the morning, go for the former. But if you’re a fan of the burnt flavor of dark roasts, choose Italian. And with our recipe suggestions, you’ll hopefully have the perfect cup!

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