What Is The Difference Between French Roast And Italian Roast Coffee

What Is The Difference Between French Roast And Italian Roast Coffee?

Learning what is the difference between French roast and Italian roast coffee will help to give you and your taste buds a better understanding of how a coffee roast affects the flavor of your final brewed cup of coffee.

The difference, as subtle as it is, a minor 9F (5C) in temperature produces a very notable and distinctly different tasting coffee. One has a notable more charred taste with a greater intensity.

But which one?

Keep reading to find out!

What Is The Difference Between French Roast And Italian Roast Coffee?

The main difference between a French roast and an Italian roast is the flavor profile, which is due to the different roasting temperatures.

Both a French roast coffee and an Italian roast coffee form part of the 4 roasts that make up the dark roast category of coffee beans.

  • French Roast: Roasted beyond the second crack at a temperature of 240C (464F).
  • Italian Roast: Also roasted beyond the second crack at a temperature of 245C (473F).

A French roast is identified by their very, very dark brown oily beans and shiny coating of oil. Produces a deep, dark, earthy but not burnt taste with a light body and low acidity and caramel notes due to the burning of the sugars.

An Italian roast is identified by their dark and almost completely black coffee beans that are covered in a coating of coffee oils. The flavor is very roasty, much more so than a French roast, ashy and has burnt, bitter and ashy notes. It’s a very strong tasting coffee.

Like a French roast, an Italian roast has a light body and low acidity.

What Is The Difference Between French Roast And An Italian Roast Coffee
French And Italian Roasts Are Different

Read: Does French roast coffee have more caffeine?

French Roast Vs Italian Roast Starbucks

At the core of the difference between a French roast and an Italian roast at Starbucks is the roasting temperature and how long the coffee beans are roasted for. A French roast is pulled just after the second crack while an Italian roast is roasted at a slightly higher temperature, 9F (5C) more and for slightly longer.

This is what produces the difference in flavor.

The table below gives a summary of the details of both a French roast and an Italian roast from the world leading coffee company.

Feature French Roast Italian Roast
Roasting Temperature 240C (464F) 245C (473F)
Roast Level Dark roast, the second darkest of the dark roasts. Dark roast, the darkest of all the dark roasts.
Flavor Profile Deep, dark, intense with earthy notes, smokey with caramel notes. Charred, burnt, deep, more intense and with burnt ashy flavors. More bitter.
Single Origin Or Blend? Blend Blend
Origin Of Blend Latin America And Asia Pacific. Latin America And Asia Pacific.
Type of Bean 100% Arabica 100% Arabica

Let’s have a closer look at Starbucks French roast and Italian roast coffee.

Starbucks French Roast

Starbucks and their French roast coffee is 100% Arabica coffee beans. It’s a well-designed and well-thought-out blend of Latin American and Asian Pacific coffee beans that are roasted at 240C (464F) and pulled just after the second crack.

The roast was first introduced to the coffee giants outlets in 1971 and for a long time was their darkest roasted coffee until their Italian roast was introduced.

Expect a rich, smoky, intense and earthy coffee with lingering caramel notes with a low acidity and a light body.

The beans are a deep dark brown with a shiny, oily, glistening coating. Despite the very well-thought-out blend of coffees from Latin America and Asia Pacific, the largest part of the flavor is from the roasting process with little from the beans themselves.

Starbucks French Roast
Starbucks French Roast

Read: Is French roast coffee a dark roast?

French Roast Vs Vienna Roast

A French roast is a little darker than a Vienna roast, which is also a dark roast. Roasted to a slightly lower temperature of 230C (446F) compared to the 240C (464F) of a French roast.

The result of slightly lower temperature is a coffee bean that has a lighter shade of brown and a less intense and more milky flavor than a French roast.

A Vienna roast is only moderately dark brown with a lighter and lesser amount of coffee oils on the surface. This roast level produces a coffee with a muted acidity and bittersweet flavor with light caramel hints. They are roasted to the middle of the second crack and then pulled.

Sumatra Vs French Roast

I’ve included this, Sumatra Vs French roast, as it is a question that came up in our fun and free coffee community.

Let me clarify something.

Sumatra is not a roast, it’s an origin, a location where rather tasty Arabica coffee beans are cultivated in Indonesia. Sumatra is a volcanic coffee and can be roasted to any roast level but is best as a medium-dark and dark roast.

Starbucks Sumatra coffee has rich, beautiful and tasty herbal tones. It’s sweet with great notes of caramel in every sip with the earthy aroma lingering.

Starbucks Sumatra also has a curious spicy taste.

Italian Roast Coffee Starbucks

An Italian roast coffee from Starbucks is their highest, deepest and darkest roast. It’s very roasty with dark chocolate and mouthwatering toasted marshmallow flavors.

It’s a very indulgent and deep, dark roasted coffee with rich, rich caramel notes. It’s bitter, very earthy and with burnt, ashy notes.

I love it as the base for a great latte and a cortado.

Due to the high roasting process and level all the flavor of origin have gone with the entire flavor coming from the roasting process.

The beans come from two key locations which are Latin America and Asia Pacific.

The flavor profile and characteristic of the Latin American beans used are:

  • Chocolatey and nutty.
  • Gente and light sweetness.
  • Medium body and reduced acidity.
  • Grown at a low altitude
Italian Roast Coffee Starbucks
Italian Roast Coffee Starbucks

Read: What is French roast coffee?


The Asian Pacific beans are characterized by:

  • A full-bodied and moderate acidity.
  • Dry aftertaste and smooth flavor.
  • Earthy notes.
  • Grown at a higher altitude.

Blending and roasting this multi-regional, multi-continent coffee to an Italian roast has a complex flavor, body and acidity even though the majority, almost all of the flavor comes from the roasting process.

Italian Roast Coffee Taste

An Italian roast coffee has the darkest and deepest and most intense roasty and bold flavor of all the dark roast coffee beans.

The beans are oily, and being a very dark roast coffee bean, the darkest, they are easily identifiable by their black color.

These are taken beyond the second crack with all the oils migrating to the exterior of the beans.

This coffee roast produces a tasty roasty and charred flavor and is excellent for making an espresso due to the amount of oil on the surface which contributes to thick, rich crema on top.

The flavor is intense, bold, and is a favorite roast of mine. If you enjoy dark roast beans, give serious consideration to an Italian roast.

Although it is not an espresso roast, or used for espresso often, it makes great shots on it sown and is fantastic for cutting through the creaminess of the milk.

Italian Roast Vs French Roast Vs Espresso Roast

It is not really a question of comparing an Italian roast, a French roast or an Espresso roast as the both an Italian roast and a French roast are both used in an espresso roast either on their own or as an omni-roast.

More often and by a large margin, it is a French roast that is used in an Espresso roast.

An espresso roast is commonly a blend of both Arabica and Robusta beans with 20% to 25% of a blend containing Robusta beans to boost the caffeine content.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Is The Difference Between French Roast And Italian Roast Coffee?

Which Is Stronger French Roast Or Italian Roast?

Both a French roast coffee and an Italian roast coffee are dark roasted coffees. The strongest, boldest and most intense of the two is an Italian roast.

And Italian roast is roasted at a slightly higher temperature than a French roast.

Is Italian Or French Coffee Better?

In my opinion and experience, an Italian roast coffee is better due to being deeper, bolder, stronger and more intense than a French roast coffee.

What Coffee Roast Has The Boldest Flavor?

The coffee roast that has the boldest flavor is the darkest of dark roast coffees, which is the rich, bold and full-bodied Italian roast.

Which Coffee Roast Tastes The Least Like Coffee?

The coffee roast that tastes the least like coffee is a golden roast, which is also known as a white roasted coffee (a white coffee). It’s the lightest of coffee roasts, even lighter than a blonde roast.

It’s the only coffee that is roasted before the first crack. It tastes more like tea than coffee.

What Is The Strongest Tasting Coffee?

The strongest tasting coffee is a coffee roast that is a deep, deep, dark roast and that is an Italian roast.

The strongest tasting coffee drink is one that is hot brewed and used the most focused coffee to water ratio and brewed with an Italian roast. That drink is a ristretto, a more focused espresso as it is made with a coffee to water ratio of 1:1.

Does Adding More Coffee Grounds Make Coffee Stronger?

Yes, making your coffee to water ratio more focused will make it stronger tasting and more caffeinated.

This is why straight espresso drinks like a ristretto, espresso and lungo which have a coffee to water ratio of 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3 respectively.

Does Hotter Water Make Stronger Coffee?

Yes, hot water extraction results in a stronger tasting coffee due to greater extraction yields, getting more total dissolved solids in your coffee and that includes caffeine as well as the flavor compounds.


there is a maximum temperature for brewing which is 96C (205F), as above this temperature your coffee will taste burnt and bitter.

Does Coffee Get Stronger The Longer It Steeps?

Yes, longer extraction times results in stronger tasting and more caffeinated coffee drinks. There is a fine line between well brewed and over brewed. Brew your coffee for too long and it will end up tasting too bitter.

Final Thoughts – What Is The Difference Between French Roast And Italian Roast Coffee?

If you are scanning and skimming down looking for a quick answer to the question of what is the difference between French roast and Italian roast coffee. I strongly advise that you scroll up for the more detailed answer to help yourself decide which of the two best suits your own personal coffee gusto.

The difference is that an Italian roast is significantly bolder, more intense, darker, deeper and more roasty than a French roast.

Join our fun and friendly coffee community and share your coffee recipes, creations, eye-catching latte art or simply tell us about the French and Italian roasts that you are trying out – do you recommend them? Find us on Facebook/Meta.

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 Derek@LatteLoveBrew.com, mentioning your name and location

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