Differences Between Coffee Roasts

For the most part there is a standard that is followed within the coffee industry when it comes to identifying different roast levels, but this is prone to vary within different regions, different countries, and even within different companies. It’s important for coffee drinkers to understand the key differences between these roasts to help them better identify their ideal brew and purchase the right brands and roasts for home brewing. Here’s a quick reference guide, in order from light to darker roasts:

Cinnamon (or New England) Roast

Cinnamon roasts are one of the most popular roast selections, often seen in donut shops and breakfast blends. The Cinnamon roast is the lightest roast with a very high acidity and less body. This type of roast is used often by larger manufacturers and high end roasters as it is a more revealing roast – you can taste any slight defect in the coffee in this roast.

City Roast

This roast is 1-2 shades darker than the Cinnamon roast  and typically carries a less powerful body as well. The difference with the City roast comes in with the caramel notes that are present (not present in the cinnamon roast) with the slightly longer roasting, and some loss of acidity.


The Vienna roast, founded in coffee houses in Austria, is slightly darker than the City roast and begins presenting with some oil. This roast is sort of smack-dab in the middle of all the roasts, and while you can effectively enjoy the particular beans unique tastes you will also taste a very present thicker and more syrupy taste.


Espresso roast is the first roast to come along in the dark roast category. It has far less acidity than all the other roasts, making it perfect for the espresso brewing process, and makes for a very balanced bean.


The Italian roast is a more complex roast. This roast is darker than the Espresso roast, more oily, contains much less acid, and is almost bittersweet in flavor while also bringing forth a very pronounced coffee punch.


The French roast, darkest of all roasts, is the boldest and smokiest of all the roasts. It boasts a very oily,robust, smokey flavor with often strong notes of hickory.