Is French Roast Dark - What Is French Roast Coffee

Is French Roast Dark? – What Is French Roast Coffee?

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 12:38

Is French roast dark?” Is a question that I caught buzzing around our active coffee community, with many follow-up questions asking what is French roast coffee.

This article will set the record straight in detail for both of those questions. If you are in rush, here you are with the direct and simplified answer.

A French roast is a dark roast coffee.

Keep reading for more details and the specifics and and more detailed answer.

Is French Roast Dark?

Yes, a French roast is a dark roasted coffee bean and is the second-darkest roast that you will find. Unfortunately some coffee websites and coffee blogs state French roast as the darkest roast and the darkest flavor.

This is not correct.

Upon examining their content I noticed that either they had never heard of an Italian roast or were confusing an Italian roast with a French roast.

The clue was the stated roasting temperature, which was too high to be used for a French roast.

Yes, a French roast is a dark roast, one of 4 dark coffee roasts. The 4 dark roast beans and the roasting temperatures that they are taken to by professional coffee roasters are as follows:

  • Full city roast: 437F (225C).
  • Vienna roast: 446F (230C).
  • French roast: 464F (240C).
  • Italian roast: 473F (245C).

This roasting process for this roast profile produces a prominent smoky taste due to the burning of the coffee oils. The sugars in the coffee beans produce tasty caramel notes.

If a medium roast or light roast is more of your liking and personal taste, you may not enjoy such a deep roast.

Is French Roast Dark
A French Roast Is Dark

Read: Cafe Viennois

 French Roast Vs Dark Roast

This is something that I have seen a lot, the comparison of French roast Vs Dark roast. This is not a comparison to make as a French roast is a type of roast that is part of the dark roast category as I have emphasized above.

The real or better question is how dark of a coffee roast do you want and what should you expect from each of the 4 types of coffee roasts that make up the dark roast category.

If you have not tried darker coffee roasts, then start at the bottom with the lightest of the dark roasted coffee beans, a full city roast, and then work your way through them to the darkest coffee roast, which is an Italian roast, and find which you enjoy the most.

Try each of the different deep roasted beans with different brewing methods.

Full City Roast

This is a medium to dark brown coffee bean that coffee drinkers love, particularly when high-quality coffee beans are used.

There are only faint or tiny patches on coffee oils on the exterior of the coffee beans. The character of the roast is notable. At start of the second crack this roast is fully developed.

Vienna Roast

The color of a Vienna roast is darker than a full city and has slightly more of the coffee oils making their way to the exterior of the beans and more bittersweet with caramel notes coming through. Expect a muted acidity.

This type of coffee bean is roasted to the middle point of the second crack. Any taste from the origins have been lost to the roasting process at this roast level.

French Roast

Expect a dark brown, chocolate-colored coffee bean that has a shiny oily coating. A very low acidity and with taste from the roasting process dominating the coffee. Dominant and strong coffee. Roasted to the end of the second crack.

Italian Roast

Darker than a French roast with the coffee beans being almost black and very shiny with a glazed look. Expect a think body and some very burnt, ashy tastes.

Nearly black and shiny, burnt tones become more distinct, acidity nearly eliminated, thin body.

This is the darkest of all roasts and is roasted beyond the second crack.

An Italian Roast
An Italian Roast

Read: French coffee recipe

French Roast Coffee Meaning

The term “French roast coffee” refers to a specific type of dark roast coffee. It’s a very high level of roasting with a deep, dark roasted flavor and produces a very strong tasting cup of coffee. The internal temperature during the roasting process is 464F (240C)

The roast profile is so called due to it dating back to the early 19th century and France. It’s the roast that was enjoyed all over Europe during the 1800s with only the Italians enjoying coffee that is roasted darker.

It was the French that brought this roast level to the United States when the new world was being discovered and started exporting to America to satisfy the taste of French immigrants and colonialists.

What Does French Roast Coffee Taste Like?

A French roast is referred to as a double roast coffee. It’s smoky, sweet, and intense with a light and thin body and very low in acid. The roasting of the beans overpowers the natural flavors and aroma nuances of the beans and their origin and the coffee varietal and takes their flavor from the roasting process.

Expect some charcoal and roasted, robust flavors.

The deeper a coffee is roasted the more the flavors are from the roast profile, the less and lighter a coffee is roasted the more of the natural flavors from the bean and its origin you will experience.

Yes, a French roast coffee is strong in flavor; it is one of the strongest tasting coffees that you can find. They also have a very dominant smoky aroma.


when it comes to caffeine content, it is not any stronger than another dark roast. In fact, they have slightly less caffeine than a medium roast and light roasted coffee. Don’t mistake a strong taste with the caffeine content – the opposite is true as lighter roasts are lighter in flavor but have a greater caffeine content.

Frequently Asked Questions About Is French Roast Dark?

Is French Roast Always Dark Roast?

Yes, a French roast coffee is the penultimate of all the dark roast coffee beans. It is the second darkest of all the dark roasts with the only roast that is darker than a French roast coffee and Italian roast.

It’s a good deep roast level that results in coffee beans that have a smokey, dark, deep and very roasted flavor. Unlike a light roast, they do not have an acidic taste.

A French roast is a dark roast coffee and is darker than other regular dark roast blends that are simply marked as a dark roast.

The roasting temperature is higher and they have a slightly longer roasting time than full city roast and Vienna roast, which are both dark roasted coffees. Due to the dark chocolate color, they produce a richer and deeper and maltier flavor than the other dark roasted coffee beans that are a level or two below them in the dark roast coffee category.

When compared to lighter roasts, such as a cinnamon light roast coffee, a French roast coffee has a significantly reduced acidity and is very dark brown, almost charred and charcoal like. Dark roasted coffee beans, like French roast coffee beans have the flavors and aroma nuances of the roasting process and very little from the coffee beans themselves or their origins.

Read: French coffee

An Italian roast coffee is much darker and has more oil than French roast beans. An Italian roast is the deepest and darkest of all dark roast coffee beans. The dark roast level has 4 different levels within the category, which are, in order of lightest to darkest, full city roast, Vienna roast, French roast and Italian roast. The darkest roast is Italian roast coffee.

It is popular for the deep, dark and almost burnt taste. The deep roasting draws out caramel notes due to the burning sugars, something that medium roasts and light roasts can’t achieve.

It’s a versatile coffee that is good for espresso, cold brew and iced coffee.

A French roast is darker than some dark roasts but lighter than the darkest of all dark roasts, an italian roast.

The dark roast category has 4 different roasts which are:

  • Full city roast.
  • Vienna roast.
  • French roast.
  • Italian roast.

It’s the 3rd darkest of all dark roasts. It’s perfect for being used as an espresso roast.

Final Thoughts – Is French Roast Dark?

That the annoying thought and confusion “is a French roast dark?” is no longer going to annoy you as you know the answer and above all, you know exactly what a French roast is in detail and what to expect when you try it. 

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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