Coffee Roasts: A Guide

Even people who don’t like the taste of coffee tend to like the way it smells, and that warm, spicy aroma all comes down to how the beans are roasted. In choosing how to roast your beans, or what roast to buy from a coffee franchise or coffee business, it is important to first understand your main options.

  • Cinnamon Roast — This roast is the lightest available, and refers to the color of the roast, rather than the flavor. These roasts can be used for brewed coffee, but generally not for espresso, since they have a more acidic, sharp flavor than darker roasts. To identify a cinnamon roast, look for beans
    that are the color of cinnamon bark and which have a dry, oil-less surface. Many large manufacturers and coffee shop franchises like to incorporate these roasts into their coffee blends, since they cost less money, aren’t as bulky, and take a shorter time to roast.
  • City Roast — These beans have been roasted a little bit longer than cinnamon roasts. Full City roasts, a variation, are often referred to as medium roasts. Both are just slightly darker than cinnamon bark and also have no oil on the surface of the beans.
  • Vienna Roast — Vienna beans are next on the scale of darkness, and are half covered with oil. They tend to be a milk-chocolate brown color, or slightly darker, and are not as sharp tasting as the lighter blends.
  • French Roast — This is one of the darkest roasts. The beans are entirely covered with oil, and they are the color of bittersweet chocolate. Since they have been roasted for so much longer, the beans are very carbonized, and tend to have a uniform taste that makes them a decent choice for espresso.