French Roast vs Italian Roast

What's the Difference in 2024

When shopping or ordering your coffee, do you get confused about whether to order French roast coffee or Italian roast coffee? Do you know what the difference between an Italian roast and a French roast is?

If you think that the main difference between a French roast and an Italian roast is that one is from France and the other is from Italy, you’re right.

So, the twist is that French and Italian roasts are not made in France and Italy. Instead, the difference depends on how the coffee is roasted, how strong the flavor is, and a lot of other things.

We’ll compare French roast to Italian roast below to help you understand.

Java Groove's Quick Answer

french roast vs italian roast

French roast and Italian roast are two different styles of coffee roasting. French roast is a darker roast with a smoky and strong taste, while Italian roast is a bit lighter and has a sweeter, nuttier flavor profile.

Essentially, the main difference is in the degree of roasting and the resulting taste.

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French Roast

We often hear about medium-roasted coffee, light-roasted coffee, and dark-roasted coffee. And we can easily understand these terms. But why do we call it French-roasted coffee?

If we simplify, the first meaning that comes to mind (as discussed above) is that it must come from France. The roasting style originated in the 1800s in France.

However, the term “French roast coffee” refers to the “color” of the beans after they are roasted, which results in the dark chocolate color; they are usually at the dark end of the scale.

You have often seen “French Roasted Coffee” on some bags of coffee. It is straightforward compared to our regular coffee, but it has a darker color and an oilier look. It has a strong flavor. French-roasted coffee is a very dark roast.

A study related to this shows that it is the darkest roast available. Around the turn of the century, it was famous throughout the world, much more than in Europe.

Today, the term we used only refers to its dark and robust texture.

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Italian Roast

Having an Italian-roast coffee at a coffee shop and at home will taste completely different, yet both will taste great.

What is the definition of Italian-roasted coffee?

Italian-roast coffee is also considered the darkest coffee (we will discuss below why it is called the darkest coffee) and is commonly used to brew espresso. In the initial stage, the Italian-roasted coffee has only one color, but later, when exposed to heat, it becomes darker.

A chemical outcome takes place during the roasting, and the name of the reaction is “the Maillard Reaction.” Amino acids and sugar react in this reaction, and the output produced is the unique taste of Italian roasted coffee with a dark color.

So, Italian-roasted coffee is all about the roast and not about the coffee itself.

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A brief history of French and Italian roast

Did you know that the origins of French roast coffee are a bit of a mystery?

It’s crazy to think that we only learned about it after it became famous throughout Europe and sailors started selling it at high prices. But as time went on, merchants started paying attention to its popularity and began selling it in the United States.

Italian roast, on the other hand, has a bit more of a backstory. Because coffee plants can’t be grown in Italy due to the climate, the beans are grown elsewhere and then roasted in Italy.

The dark and robust flavor of Italian roast is actually influenced by the Turkish style of coffee making, which was dominant in the 1500s.

When Italy started roasting Italian roast, they roasted all the coffee together from around the world to create a consistently good flavor.

The French roast and Italian roast names may come from France and Italy, but the cultures of coffee in those countries are quite different.

In Italy, people prefer to have their coffee immediately after it’s pulled from an espresso machine and they tend to grab it to go with limited seating in coffee shops.

In France, on the other hand, people like to spend the entire afternoon in a coffee shop, and the cafes are designed to be more comfortable for longer stays.

Overall, both French and Italian roast coffees have left a lasting impact on the world of coffee, each with its own unique history and cultural significance.

French Roast vs. Italian Roast:

1. Roasting Style and Duration

French and Italian roasts are considered dark roasts. The coffee beans of both roasts are roasted for a longer time to become darker and release more oil. Although we are talking about the French Roast, these coffee beans are roasted at a considerable temperature until the second crack in the bean occurs.

On the other hand, Italian-roasted coffee has to go through a longer roasting duration to develop a comprehensive, energetic flavor. So, Italian roast coffee is roasted for a longer time than French roast coffee.

And this is one of the major points of French roast vs. Italian roast.

One more thing: only a few people know that coffee’s name refers to the degree of roasting.

2. The Difference in Flavor

Both roasts taste like dark chocolate, baking chocolate, and cocoa powder, but French roast is more intense than Italian roast and has a thin body. The more intensely roasted coffee will lack sweetness, but it’s an addiction, and French roast coffee will also give you a real taste of coffee. Adding dark roast coffee with heavy cream, frothy milk, or anything that will add some sweetness will be perfect for enjoying the coffee.

While talking about the taste of lightly roasted beans, they will give you a taste of complex flavor with a fantastic body.

The lightly roasted coffee has an indescribable taste of fruits (pineapple, berries, citrus) and honey. If you add milk, it will become creamy.

In short, it will give you a completely natural taste.

3. Nutritional difference:

Roasting and nutrients, in the case of coffee, are inversely proportional. The more roasted coffee has fewer nutrients, as the studies show, because while roasting the coffee for a longer time, the chlorogenic acid begins to seep out. And chlorogenic acid is considered suitable for your health as it protects your body from diseases like cancer.

Roasting also affects the caffeine that remains in the coffee. So, this means that French roast is a perfect choice to boost your energy. So, the key differences between French Roast and Italian Roast are:

  • Italian roast beans are roasted for a more excellent time than French roast beans to get a richer taste and a darker color.
  • The antioxidants like chlorogenic acid and Caffeine are in a higher percentage in French Roast than Italian Roast.
  • The taste, as well as the smell, of Italian roast are somewhat harsher as compared to French roast.

Is Italian or French Roast Coffee Better?

If you’ve never tried it you may be wondering which is better – Italian roast or French roast coffee?

Well, let me break it down for you.

Both Italian and French roast coffees go through a similar roasting process. The beans are heated until they reach the first crack, which releases the energy built up inside the bean.

After that, the roasting continues until the second crack, which isn’t as loud but signals that the cell structure of the bean has widened even more.

At this point, the oil inside the bean comes out and covers the bean’s skin, giving it that signature oily appearance.

Italian roast is darker than French roast because it’s roasted longer, and the oil covers the bean more extensively.

When it comes to taste, Italian roast is typically stronger and bolder than French roast. So, if you’re looking for a coffee with more kick, Italian roast might be the way to go.

But if you prefer a milder taste, French roast might be more your style.

Either way, both Italian and French roast coffees have their own unique characteristics and are enjoyed by coffee lovers around the world.

The Health Advantages of French Roast Coffee

Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in French-roasted coffee provide essential health benefits as follows:

  • Lowers the risk of diseases like Cancer: As we have discussed above.
  • Improve liver health: The dark and rich color in a French roast result from the antioxidant. Antioxidants are the primary source that lowers the risk of having disease related to the liver.
  • Provides Mental energy: Dark roast coffee possesses Caffeine which is a perfect source for providing mental energy to feel refreshed.
  • Also, the French Roast is a fantastic source of Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamine, Potassium, and Magnesium.

Health benefits of Italian roast coffee:

  1. It defends against heart disease. A study from 2012 shows that a person with heart-related disease must take three cups of coffee a day.
  2. Protects your body from stroke: Studies show that Italian coffee lowers the risk of stroke. In the case of women, drinking coffee will reduce the risk by 20 percent.
  3. Decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes means low sugar level, and it occurs when our body cannot use its insulin. Here, the Italian Roast will help you as it contains antioxidants.

Final thoughts on Italian vs. French Roast Coffee

Alright, let’s do a quick recap of what makes French roast and Italian roast so special.

Picture this: French roast is like that laid-back friend who strikes a perfect balance between smoky and sweet flavors. It’s got a medium-dark brown look with a shiny, oily surface that just calls you in for a comforting hug. The taste is smooth and rounded, with a gentle acidity that keeps things interesting.

Now, on the other side of the ring, we’ve got the bold and fearless Italian roast. It’s the daring friend who goes all-in, transforming into a mesmerizing glossy, almost-black bean. The flavor is intense and powerful, with a deep caramelization that’s hard to resist. You’ll taste those dark chocolate notes, and it’s like a passionate dance on your taste buds.

So, when it comes to choosing between these two enticing roasts, it’s all about personal preference.

Let your taste buds be your guide and don’t be afraid to explore both! After all, the joy of coffee lies in the adventure and discovering what tickles your fancy.

Whether you find comfort in the laid-back charms of French roast or get swept away by the boldness of Italian roast, there’s no right or wrong choice. Coffee is all about embracing what brings you joy and savoring every delightful sip.

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For Italian roast coffee, the Agtron Gourmet Scale typically falls within the range of approximately 25 to 30. This means that Italian roast is a very dark roast, with beans that have a deep, dark color, often close to black.

Keep in mind that different coffee roasters may have slight variations in their roasting levels, so the exact Agtron score for Italian roast coffee may vary slightly depending on the specific roaster’s practices. However, in general, Italian roast coffee is recognized as one of the darkest roast levels on the Agtron Gourmet Scale.

When comparing the darkness of French roast coffee to that of other coffees, French roast coffee ranks among the darkest.

Additionally, there’s a useful tool called the ‘Agtron Gourmet Scale’ that helps categorize coffee roasts. This scale ranges from 25 (darkest) to 95 (lightest), allowing coffee enthusiasts to gauge the darkness of their brews (learn more about this tool).

For instance, French-roasted coffee typically falls within the number range of 28 to 35 on the Agtron Gourmet Scale. This is why French roast is well-regarded for its notable darkness and rich flavor.


Italian-style roast doesn’t necessarily mean it’s only for espresso. It’s a dark roast with intense flavor, often used in espresso blends, but you can brew it using other methods too.

It’s glossy, almost black, and has a rich, caramelized taste. So, whether you’re making espresso or trying other brewing methods, Italian-style roast promises a bold and delightful coffee experience.