French roast coffee is excellent for those who like their java strong! If you are looking for a French Roast coffee, then this article is for you. French Roast coffee has a smoky flavor, and it's often served with sweetened condensed milk or cream and sugar. French Roasts are typically dark roasts which means they have been roasted at the highest level of darkness to produce more oils and caffeine.
French Roast vs. Dark Roast: What's the difference?
French roast is a type of dark roast. French roasts are roasted longer than other roasts, which produce more oils and boost coffee bitterness. Many people enjoy French roast coffee black or with dairy or plant-based creamers and sugar.
Among the dark roasts, French Roast coffee is the darkest, with a solid and intense taste. Like many good dark roasts, it has a rich and robust hint of smokiness.
Dark roasts have a terrible reputation in Specialty Coffee because the roasting process is often used to mask the taste of low-quality, stale coffee beans. However, many people prefer dark roasts for espresso. This type of roast tends to reduce acidity, an attribute that can be too harsh in medium and light roasts when extracting for espresso.
In contrast, specialty coffee enthusiasts and high-end coffee shops commonly avoid dark roasts for filter brews. The reasons behind this aren't pretentious. In fact, exotic coffees offer floral and fruity notes that disappear even with medium roasts, so people who enjoy this kind of coffee don't find pleasant the aromatic profile of dark roasts. That said, the most common coffees that many people drink with sugar and creamer are usually dark roasts. Moreover, it wouldn't be rare to find French roasts in local diners and restaurants.
In short, the difference between a French roast and dark roasts is that the latter is a broader category where other types of roasts can fit into.
French Roast Coffee: Does it have more caffeine?
There are myths about the caffeine levels of coffee depending on their roasting degree. Many people believe that dark roasts have more caffeine than light roasts, but this is not true. The truth is that dark roasts may have less caffeine than light roasts.
The difference in caffeine content between the two types of coffee roasts is negligible. A dark roast has a more extended period of roasting, which makes the beans expand a little bit. But this does not affect how much caffeine it has. It doesn't matter how dark the coffee is or its appearance.
Dark roasts may lead to a lower caffeine intake if you use scoops to measure coffee instead of a scale. The reason behind this phenomenon is that light roast coffee beans are denser and have more moisture. So, a couple of scoops of light roasts will weigh slightly more than the same volume in a dark roast. As a result, a cup of coffee brewed with a light roast will have more caffeine because it will have more coffee.
To be more precise, if you want to have a more potent caffeine punch, Robusta coffee beans can double the caffeine content of most Arabica coffee beans. So, if there's anything necessary to get more caffeine is the coffee species, not the roast for that matter.
How does French roast coffee beans look?
When observing coffee beans, it's relatively easy to identify a dark roast. French roast coffee beans tend to be the darkest among all roasts. For this reason, there is always the risk of having burnt beans in a French roast. That said, some people would argue that every bean in a dark roast is already burnt.
A French roast has a distinct shiny surface, feels oily to the touch, and is almost black. Although the difference between dark brown and black might seem evident, it's not as objective as it may seem. For this reason, specialty coffee roasters use the Agtron scale. To measure the Agtron score of a coffee roast, experts use a significantly modified spectrophotometer. This instrument reads the color of the coffee beans and provides a reading in numbers, making it easier to share a common interpretation of the color of the roast.
The Agtron readings go from 0 to 100, where the highest scores are the lighter in color, and the lowest ones are the darkest. From this perspective, French roasts tend to be around 25. In contrast, medium roasts go from 61 to 50, and there is a range of dark roasts that can go somewhere between 26 and 51 Agtrons.
Although Agtron readings might feel intimidating and less appealing than traditional names like French, Vienesse, and Italian roasts, they are more accurate and shareable.
A very noticeable difference in French roast coffee beans is that silverskin chaff, a lightly colored flake, is entirely absent. Usually, medium and light roasts have some of these flakes stuck to the center of the beans.
The Taste of French Roasts
French roasts are often described as smoky, burnt, or acrid. Although these words might indicate a lack of balance in the flavor profile, this is not always the case with french roast coffee beans. Usually, most unpleasant favors are due to overly roasted beans, poor consistency, and low-quality coffee beans.
As opposed to what many people believe about French roasts being too dark and having no complexity, french roast coffee can have lots of taste. The French roast style offers more body than most roasts.
French roasts from high-quality coffee beans have great character, pleasant bitterness, and a rich body. Most people enjoy French roasts and most dark roasts mixed with milk and sugar.
Frothy coffee drinks with dark roasts tend to be very pleasant, acquiring a thick and creamy body. Additionally, latte art enthusiasts enjoy the visual contrast that French roasts offer.
Is French roast coffee for you?
Well, if you prefer floral and fruity coffee beans poured over a V60 or a Chemex, you won't like French roast coffee beans that much. On the contrary, if you prefer full-bodied, rich, chocolatey, smoky coffees, then French roast coffee is perfect for you.
My recommendation: look for dark roasts from high-quality beans and brew using a Moka pot or an Aeropress. If you have an espresso machine at home, French roast coffee beans indeed taste delicious.
A final and essential tip. If you grind dark roast coffee beans at home, clean your grinder regularly because they tend to release more oils that can clog the burrs in a few weeks.