Italian Roast Vs French Roast - A Tale Of Two Roasts

Italian Roast Vs French Roast – A Tale Of Two Roasts

Last updated on January 22nd, 2024 at 13:25

If you love an intense dark roast, you might be weighing up your options of an Italian roast Vs French roast, even while you are in the queue at Starbucks.

This article outline and talks about both roasts in a detailed and informative way to help you decide which one it is that you want in your coffee.

Keep reading to find out all about Italian Roast coffee Vs French roast coffee.

The term Italian roast coffee is in reference to a coffee roasting style that originated in Italy and is a roasting process that produces the darkest roast. The beans are almost completely black in color and are very shiny and oily.

These coffee beans have been roasted at the highest roasting temperature of 245C (473F) and for slightly longer, beyond the second crack and are, like a French dark roast coffee, often called a double roasted coffee.

Coffee connoisseurs and coffee lovers love to use this roast for the very roasty taste and its ability to cut through the milky creaminess of milk in their cup of coffee. There are only two dark roast coffees that can cut through milk effectively and efficiently, the other is a French coffee roast, which I’ll get to in a second.

An Italian roast also known by a few other names including dark French, heavy and Spanish roast but the most commonly used name is an Italian roast.

I’ll get to how these coffee beans taste later in this article.

Italian Roast Vs French Roast
An Italian Roast

Read: Dark roast Vs French roast

 Italian Dark Roast Vs French Roast – What Is A French Roast?

French roast coffee beans are the second darkest of the dark roast level. Roasted at 240C (464F) for a slightly shorter period of time than an Italian. This roasting process creates an exceptional espresso that is not too deep, too bitter or too dark tasting.

It is more common that this roast is used for shots of espresso than an Italian.

The beans produced have a notably dark mahogany brown color with a shiny oily surface. These roasted coffee beans have a special place in French coffee culture as they were the birth of the café noir, of course, known the world over for their cuisine it is a matter of pride for having their own roast.

This roasting process was discovered in France in the 1800s and popularized as it made its way across the French empire and the United States. It is a roast that is slightly deeper and darker than a Vienna roast.

I find it pretty cool how the European styles of roasting are distinctive and are named after places.

Other names that this roast is know by as when you head to the most eastern parts of Europe you’ll find this coffee is known as a Turkish roast. At this juncture, it is important not to mistake a Turkish coffee with a Turkish roast (it’s really a French roast!) and a French roast with a French press coffee (a brewing technique).

How cool is that of France to have their own roast and brewing technique named after the rather culinary culture?

Italian Roast Coffee Taste

Nuanced coffee fans, avid coffee drinkers and coffee professionals call an Italian roast as the king of dark roast coffee due to the almost completely black color of the beans and the shiny and very oily surface that is needed to produce an excellent and perfect rich, thick crema on top. 

An Italian roast is strong, bittersweet with a bold taste, smoky, burnt notes and with little to no tastes of the origins. Expect charred, ash-like tastes.  

Italian Roast Taste Great In A Latte
Italian Roast Taste Great In A Latte

Read: Starbucks French roast coffee

French Roast Coffee Taste

French roasted coffee beans produce a bold taste which is slightly lighter than that of an Italian. Bittersweet with hints of the caramelized sugar. They are deep, dark and light in acidity and smoky with none of the burnt or ashy tastes of an Italian. 

These coffee beans are noted with their dark brown color and are often called an espresso roast as they are commonly used for this coffee beverage.

Italian Roast Vs French Roast – The Difference In Taste

A French roast is at the uppermost end of dark roasts and is only eclipsed by an Italian roast. What stands out for this dark coffee is the caramel notes from the burning sugars from the beans.

Expect a bittersweet taste.

An Italian roast, the darkest and darker roast of all coffee roasts produces a much stronger and dominating taste that is ashy and burnt.

When you brew with these beans you will notice the difference in taste, and visually you will be able to distinguish them from each other.

Italian Roast Vs French Roast Vs Espresso Roast

Comparing an Italian roast to a French roast and to an Espresso roast is not a comparison that should be made as both French and Italian roasts are used to make an espresso coffee and are commonly used in espresso roast blends.

In a lot of instances many coffee brands use a French or Italian roast and label it as an espresso roast.

Coffee Drinks That You Can Make With A French Roast Or An Italian Roast

Dark roasted coffee is famously used to shots of espresso which means you are already familiar with the taste as an espresso shot forms the base for so many coffee beverages, and quite possibly even your favorite drink.

Here are some drinks that you can make with your Italian or French roasts:

  • Caffe Americano.
  • Cappuccino.
  • Cortado.
  • Espresso.
  • Flat White.
  • Latte.
  • Lungo.
  • Mocha.
  • Macchiato.
  • Ristretto.
  • And many more.

Which one you opt to use will depend on how much of a coffee taste that you want to cut through the milk of the milk based drinks. If you like the coffee taste to be more dominant, opt for an Italian.

Frequently Asked Questions About Italian Roast Vs French Roast

While a French roast is intense and generally credited as being the strongest and most intense tasting roasted coffee, an Italian roast is notably stronger in flavor and even more intense.

In terms of the natural caffeine content, with all things equal, beans, brewing method, a French roast has a slightly greater amount of caffeine.

At Starbucks, an Italian roast is notably much better and tastier than a French roast, as it is the darkest, strongest and boldest coffee that they have. The rich taste cuts through their milk based espresso drinks and is perfect for their hot lattes and iced lattes alike.

An Italian roast coffee is unfortunately (or not) has slightly less caffeine than a French roasted coffee.

Read: What is French roast coffee?

Italian roast coffee beans are darker and have more oil on their surface than a French roast coffee.

The name of the roasts are not from the location in which they originate or where the beans roasted. The name comes from where the style of roasting originates.

An Italian roast coffee is the king of the dark roasts! It is the darkest roast of all four coffees that make up the category.

This coffee roasting style is great for brewing an espresso and the milk based espresso drinks like a caffé latte, cortado, mocha, macchiato, flat white, cappuccino and more as the strength of the coffee cuts through the creaminess of the milk excellently and with ease.

Italian roast coffee beans can be used for brewing an espresso and an Italian espresso is brewed with this roast. It is not a roast that is always used for shot of espresso as most coffee shops (unless requested) will use a French roast.

The deep dark roasty taste with smoky notes, subtle chocolate, dark chocolate notes and caramelized sugar tone down some of the strong bitter flavors.

An espresso roast, strictly speaking, can be an Italian or a French roast but is more commonly a French roast. Any dark roast can be an espresso roast, but it is extremely rare for a full city roast or a Vienna roast, the two lower roasts of the dark roast category to be used as an espresso roast or for making espresso shots.

The term “espresso roast” is an umbrella term to describe beans that can be used to make the beverage.

Which Coffee Has The Strongest Taste?

The coffee that has the strongest, deepest and most potent taste is an Italian coffee roast, and one that is made with the more delicious Arabica beans.

A roast taken to this level has unquestionably lost the flavor from the origins and thus a specific brand or specialty grade is not needed for this roast.

Final Thoughts – Italian Roast Vs French Roast

If you have read this far, you know all about both coffee and which wins the Italian roast Vs French roast battle for you.

Personally, my regular coffee is a French roast; it’s nice, and enjoyable. I do switch to an Italian when I want a deep roasty taste in my cup.

Which wins out for you – what roast do you prefer?

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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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