A Look at What Defines French Roast
So many people assume that “French roast” refers to a top-shelf coffee that came from the regions of France. The exotic term depicts it as such, right? Oddly enough, this coffee doesn’t come from France.
In addition to the assumption of its upper-crust nationality, those who are less versed in the coffee industry interpret a darker robust coffee as being more caffeine-intense. Just because this coffee has a very sharp distinct taste doesn’t mean it’s the caffeine you are biting into. French roast actually has less caffeine than a light or medium roast.
Sorry to burst your bubble!
Did you know: There more roast levels than just light, medium, and dark roast coffee
So, what exactly defines French roast?
“French roast” simply refers to the degree to which the coffee beans are roasted. To better understand what we are referring to, let’s look at the various roasts and what they entail.
Why are coffee beans roasted?
The flavor and aroma of coffee come from the roasting process and blending different kinds of coffee beans. It’s not only a science but an art form. It takes precise formulation to get those beans just right for your perfect cup of Joe!
The Roasting Process
Green coffee beans are harvested and readied for processing.
- The green coffee beans are put into a roaster where they are introduced to heat. The roaster will dry them to removing moisture from the bean.
- During this stage, the beans take on a yellowish color and begin to smell ‘grassy’.
- Steam begins to rise as moisture within the beans evaporates.
- The coffee beans are now dry and begin to brown.
- A chemical change known as the maillard reaction occurs during this stage. This reaction is where aroma and flavor start to develop. After this, the “first crack” happens, where the beans pop and sound similar to popped corn popping.
- This phase takes the longest because this is when a targeted flavor profile is achieved.
- The beans go through a “second crack.” This sounds similar to twigs snapping.
- The oils and sugars within the beans are pulled out in this phase. Sugars will caramelize, giving the bean a toasty sweetness.
- Dark roasts (French roast) develop during this stage.
- When the beans reach the desired roast, they are cooled down to stop the roasting process. They are now ready for brewing!
Ever wonder what it’s like to roast your own green coffee? Learn more here.
Characteristics of French Roast
You have your French roast coffee in front of you, and the smell is fantastic, right? Let’s see what that coffee is going to taste like. Close your eyes as you take that first sip. Faint burnt undertones capture your taste buds as a velvety smoky chocolate flows over your palate and finishes with a full-bodied caramel ending. There’s no denying the aromatic nuances of a dark roast because it fills a room quickly.
Those who are not prepared for a darker roast will experience an initial shock of boldness in flavor. They comment on how darker roasts have a burnt taste. Darker roasts require distinctive palates to fully appreciate every note and aromatic nuance the coffee offers. Dark roast connoisseurs will defend the smell and taste as being tantalizing and invigorating. Inhaling a fresh bag of French roasted coffee beans is the ultimate high for a dark roast lover!
The Dark Side of French Roast
The majority of coffee roasters tend to use inferior coffee beans for French roast coffee. The type or quality of coffee beans used for a French roast is not as important as the quality of the roasting process. A darker roast yields dark charred-looking beans. The overpowering aroma and flavor of French roast prevent you from enjoying the notes of a particular coffee bean.
Coffee roasters can roast blends of low-grade coffee beans and achieve the same taste and aroma as if they had used the very best of coffee beans. The burned charcoal smell and taste of dark roasts are universal in roasting no matter what kind of beans you use.
The “Final Sip”
Lastly, to enjoy your French roast at its best, grind and brew your coffee immediately before drinking. Roasted beans that are ten days or older after being roasted become stale, due to oxidation of the bean. This staling results in a much more bitter tasting cup of coffee.
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