A Guide to Many Different Robust Coffees
In part one of this series, we explained the changes that occur when you roast a coffee bean and how beans roasted for a longer time generally produce coffee with stronger flavor but less caffeine and acidity. We then identified some of the lighter roasts, including the cinnamon roast and the American roast. In our follow-up to that article, we looked at medium roasts, such as the full city and continental roasts. In our final installment, we’ll help you understand dark roasts.
The High Roast
The high roast pushes the roasting temperature of the bean up to around 445 to 450 degrees. Coffee made with high roast beans gives the drinker less of the bean’s natural flavors (known as the terroir) and lets them begin to experience the skills of the roaster. Just at the edge of being a dark roast, high roast beans look oily and very dark brown. Coffee specifically labeled as a high roast is typically found only at specialty coffee shops.
New Orleans Roast
New Orleans roast is not to be confused with the New Orleans style of coffee that features chicory, an herb with a nutty taste. The New Orleans roast offers a dark coffee without bitterness or any burnt or greasy taste. Community Coffee is a great example of a New Orleans roast.
The Espresso Roast
Probably the most well-known dark roast, and perhaps also the most misunderstood. Espresso is made not from a different plant or specific kind of bean, and a serving contains no more caffeine than regular coffee. Espresso is made differently than coffee—the barista forces hot water at high speed and pressure through beans to concentrate the caffeine in a smaller volume of liquid. A shot of espresso typically has the same amount of caffeine as a full cup of coffee—it’s just concentrated.
So what is an espresso roast? It’s one specifically designed to enhance the bean’s flavor in a concentrate. The roaster typically strives for the degree of roasting that allows grounds to dissolve quickly and easily during the espresso process. When you buy an espresso roast, you’ll need some type of espresso machine to make a true espresso.
The Viennese Roast
A Viennese roast is essentially a high roast done a bit longer, until the bean starts to exhibit a reddish-brown color. The Viennese roast is lighter than either the French or Italian roast and, as a result, more palatable to most average coffee drinkers. Viennese roasts are plentiful in grocery stores.
The European Roast
Among the darkest roasts, the European roast is customarily taken to about 465 degrees, somewhere near the second crack of the bean. It is also typically finely ground. European roasts are generally made only in small batches and can be difficult to find commercially.
The French Roast
The French roast pushes the limits of the roasting process, taking the bean to just under 485 degrees (the temperature at which roasters generally agree beans become unusable). French roast beans tend to have a bluish-purple hue and make coffee that is smoky and bittersweet but with less body than a lighter roast.
The Italian Roast
The darkest of all coffee roasts, the Italian roast produces a bean that’s purplish-black in color and extremely greasy, as all of the silverskins have been roasted away.