Differences Between French Roast Vs Dark Roast

French roast is a type of dark roast, but there are some crucial differences between French roast coffee beans and standard dark roast beans. French roast is a very dark roast that results in coffee beans with a rich, smoky, and bitter flavor. It’s smooth and bold, but contains less bean flavor compared to standard dark roast. The only dark roast that’s more intense than French roast is Italian roast.

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Differences Between French Roast Vs Dark Roast - DarkHorseCoffeeCompany

Key Takeaways

  • French roast is a type of coffee dark roast
  • It’s darker and more intense than a typical dark roast
  • Only Italian roast coffee is roasted for longer
  • French roast beans are sweet, smoky, bold, and rich
  • Both French roast and dark roast beans are good for you
  • Caffeine content remains stable across most roast profiles
  • French roast coffees are smooth and full-bodied

Table Of Contents

Differences Between French Roast Vs Dark Roast

French roast is a type of dark roast. French roast coffee beans are roasted for even longer than typical dark roast beans, resulting in a darker bean with a richer flavor. The biggest differences between French roast and dark roast beans are the shelf life, appearance, and taste profiles of the beans.

Freshness And Shelf Life

French roast coffee beans likely have a somewhat shorter shelf life than dark roast beans, although the difference is small. The longer beans are roasted for, the more oils come to the surface of the bean. These oils reduce shelf life and promote bacteria growth, turning rancid over time.

However, the difference in shelf life between coffee beans of different roast levels is small. Both French roast and dark roast beans will stay fresh for at least a week once opened. If you keep your coffee beans in a sealed, airtight container in the fridge, they may stay fresh for up to a year.

Flavor And Taste Profiles

French roast coffee tastes sweeter than other roast profiles. French roast coffee beans are roasted for longer than any other type of bean. This produces a darker, slightly more bitter roast profile with hints of malt and chocolate. French roast beans also have very low acidity levels.

If you enjoy coffee with an extremely robust, deep flavor, you might enjoy French roast beans. French roast coffee beans are often described as the most ‘intense’ in flavor. They have a natural smokiness and bitterness that some people love, but that others hate.

Appearance And Bean Color

French roast beans are roasted for longer than dark roast beans, which produces a very dark brown surface color. French roast is one of the darkest roast levels of all, darker than both standard dark roast as well as other European roasts like Vienna.

French roast beans are darker and oilier than dark roast beans, which are in turn darker and oilier than light and medium roast beans. Some people may even say that French roast beans look burnt. Arguably, they are burnt - but this burnt flavor can also produce a delicious, rich taste profile.

French roast coffee dark beans in a cup

Major Distinguishing Factors

French roast is a type of dark roast, but even among dark roasts it’s one of the darkest. Compared to a typical dark roast, French roasted beans are darker, more oily, less acidic, more bitter, and more sweet. They emphasize the caramel and chocolate notes of the roast profile while minimizing any flavor of origin still present in the bean.

It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a French roast and a dark roast, partially because the definitions of both are hazy. French roast beans will be darker than almost any other roast level, except for Italian roast beans which are the darkest roast of all.

Similarities Between French Roast Coffee And Dark Roast

French roast is usually considered to be a type of dark roast, so there are plenty of similarities between French and dark roast coffee beans. They’re both roasted at a high temperature for a sustained period, and they both create coffees with deep, rich flavors.

Roasting Process And Its Impact On Flavor

Dark roast is a type of roast characterized by a longer roasting time at temperatures of between 437F and 473F. French roast is a specific type of dark roast that involves roasting beans at around 464F. This results in a very dark coffee bean with a generous coating of oil.

Typical dark roasted beans are also dark and oily, just not to the same degree. This means that while standard dark roasts taste bold, smoky, and a little bitter, French roasts turn all of these characteristics up. They create a coffee that’s even less acidic and more full-bodied than a typical dark roast.

Health Benefits Associated With Both Roasts

There are health benefits associated with coffee roasts of all levels, and those more closely associated with darker roasts. All coffee roasts contain antioxidants, and recent studies suggest that the antioxidant effects of coffee aren’t impacted significantly by roast level.

Drinking a moderate amount of coffee a day - which means three to five cups - has also been shown to reduce your chance of developing certain cancers, boost your metabolism, and even increase your life expectancy. Roast level also doesn’t majorly impact these health benefits.

The only reason why you might want to consider roast level is if you suffer from digestive issues or acid reflux. Roasting reduces acidity in coffee beans, which means that a darker roast results in lower acidity. If you want to reduce your acid consumption, opting for French roast beans over standard dark roast beans could be better for your stomach.

Caffeine And Chlorogenic Acid Content

French roast and dark roast coffee beans have relatively low levels of chlorogenic acids. Intense, high-temperature roasting reduces the amount of chlorogenic acid found in the coffee beans. Levels of chlorogenic acids might be somewhat lower in French roast than dark roast, but the difference between the two will be minimal.

Likewise, French roast and dark roast beans share similar caffeine content. Lighter roast beans have been shown to contain slightly higher levels of caffeine when measured by volume due to their dense mass. However, the difference in the caffeine content of different roasts is thought to be very small.

Preferred Brewing Methods

Both French roast beans and standard dark roast beans will be suitable for similar types of brewing methods. A good rule of thumb is to use lower temperature brewing methods for darker beans and higher temperatures for lighter beans. Cold brew is an excellent choice of brewing method for both French and dark roast beans.

Brewing time and grind size should also be considered in combination with roast level. Smaller grind size means more flavor is extracted from coffee beans, as does a longer brewing time. Light roast beans are often not recommended for use in espressos because of their speedy brewing time, which means a darker roast is needed.

When you’re brewing a coffee with French or dark roast beans, adjust water temperature, grind size, and brewing time based on these rules. If you usually use medium roast beans but you want to reduce brewing time, you could use dark roast - or French roast - coffee beans instead to achieve a similar strength of flavor.

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What Is French Roast Coffee?

French roast coffee is a type of dark roast. It’s one of the darkest roast levels out there alongside Italian roast. French roast coffee is roasted at a high temperature of around 464F until past the second crack of the coffee bean. At this point, the bean is very darkly roasted and very oily. Most of the acidity is roasted out of the bean.

French roast coffee beans produce coffees with a strong, intense flavor. French roast coffees are bittersweet, with a strong flavor that comes almost solely from the bean’s roast profile. The unique flavors of the bean’s origin have been roasted away in the extended roasting process.

As a very dark roast, French roast beans are most suitable for use in coffees that best suit the dark roast flavor profile. Cold brew, espresso, and a classic drip coffee are all excellent ways to enjoy French roast beans.

What Does French Roast Coffee Taste Like?

The taste of French roast coffee is dictated by the dark roast profile of the coffee bean. French roast coffee beans are roasted until almost all of the bean’s origin flavors are gone, leaving behind a smoky, rich, full-bodied taste experience with notes of both sweetness and bitterness.

French roast coffees can taste earthy or chocolatey, with very low acidity levels and no fruitiness or sharpness. The taste of French roast and dark roast beans can be very similar, but French roast is usually more intense than standard dark roast coffee.

French roast coffee beans in a bowl

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What Does A Dark Roast Coffee Taste Like?

Dark roast coffee shares a similar taste profile to French roast coffee, although most of the flavor characteristics are slightly less intense in dark roast. The smoky and earthy flavors of the coffee are more subtle in dark roast when compared to French roast.

French roast is more smoky, bitter, and sweet than dark roast, but dark roast beans can taste more fruity than French roast beans. While dark roast beans are low in acidity, they may still contain remnants of citric acid, malic acid, and other acids that carry flavor and sharpness.

Which Is Stronger: Dark Roast Or French Roast Coffee?

Neither dark roast or French roast coffee is stronger than the other when comparing caffeine content, as roast profile makes a marginal difference to the amount of caffeine in the coffee bean. Brewing method and bean type will impact the caffeine strength of your coffee much more than the roast level.

When describing taste, some people might say that French roast tastes stronger than dark roast coffee. Many of the shared characteristics of French and dark roast coffees are more intense in French roast, which leads some people to believe that French roast is stronger.

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Which Is Darker, French Roast Or Dark Roast Coffee?

French roast is darker than standard dark roast, but some other types of dark roast may be stronger than French roast. Italian roast is usually considered to be the darkest dark roast, producing an oilier, darker, and more intense roast.

Italian roast coffee is sometimes described as tasting ‘ashy’ or ‘burnt’, because the bitterness and smokiness present in French roast is even more intense in Italian roast.

However, if you buy dark roast coffee beans in a deli or store, they will likely be ‘standard’ dark roast beans. These are typically roasted more lightly than French roast beans, and significantly more lightly than Italian roast beans.

Is French Roast Coffee Bitter Or Smooth?

French roast coffee is both bitter and smooth. The deep roast profile of French roast beans produces a coffee that’s extremely smooth and full-bodied, but with a smoky, charcoal taste that reflects the bitterness of the roast. In fact, studies have shown that the ash content of coffee increases with roasting time.

The texture of French roast makes it appealing to consumers looking for a well-rounded coffee with a smooth body. The smoothness of French roast coffees makes them excellent vehicles for additives like milk, sugar, and creamer.

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When To Use Which Roast?

Both French roast and dark roast beans are suitable for use with brewing methods that involve cooler water, shorter brewing time, and coarser grounds, but these are simple rules of thumb. Cold brew, espresso, and drip coffee are all excellent choices for any kind of dark roast bean.

If you enjoy a sweeter coffee, you might enjoy the coffee that French roast beans produce. French roast beans are frequently used to brew mocha, affogato, ristretto, and Bombon coffees, all of which are known for their sweet flavor.

Dark roast beans are more suitable for any coffee where it’s important to retain some of the coffee bean’s origin flavors. Many people use dark roast beans to brew Americano, frappe, and chai latte coffees.

What is dark roast coffee brewing in a pot

Frequently Asked Questions About Differences Between French Roast And Dark Roast

French roast is a type of dark roast that’s roasted for longer, at a higher temperature, than standard dark roast coffee beans. French roast beans are darker, oilier, and less acidic than standard dark roast beans. This results in a coffee that’s more bittersweet and intense. Only Italian roast beans are roasted for longer than French roast beans.

Neither dark roast or French roast coffee contains more caffeine than the other. Roast profile makes very little difference to caffeine content. Some people might think that French roast coffee tastes stronger than dark roast coffee. The flavor profile of French roast coffee is more intense.

French roast coffee tastes sweet, smoky, and bitter, with a smooth, full-bodied mouthfeel. French roast beans have very low acidity, which means they never taste fruity or sharp. The flavor of French roast coffee comes purely from the beans’ roast profile rather than their origin.

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