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Differences between Italian and French Roast Coffee


Differences between Italian and French Roast Coffee

Posted by Pumphreys Coffee ,28th Oct 2022
Differences between Italian and French Roast Coffee

Coffee is a big part of both French and Italian cultures, but the names of Italian roast coffee and French roast coffee actually have nothing to do with type of beans used or where they come from. It describes how the coffee has been roasted, especially the ways these two countries enjoy their coffee best.

In this article, we’ll be exploring what both of these roasts are and their similarities and differences. There’s no harm in equipping yourself with some basic knowledge of coffee so you know what to order if you travel to either country, or you’re looking to broaden your coffee horizons!

What is Italian roast coffee?

The Italian name pays homage to how the style of roast is common in the south of Italy. This coffee roast sits somewhere between a medium and dark roast but leaning much more to the darker side. It achieves this by being roasted so that the Italian coffee beans are noticeably oily and have a rich, dark colour to them.

Is Italian coffee stronger than French coffee?

Both the Italian and French roasts are considered to be “dark” roasts, but the Italian is roasted for a bit longer. The higher the internal temperature the more roasted the beans become, so the outcome if this is the Italian roast has a significantly stronger flavour, a darker colour, and oilier surface on the coffee beans.

Instead of just tasting the flavour of the coffee beans, the taste that is associated with dark roasts comes from the roasting process itself. Also, it’s important to note that a lot of the coffee’s natural caffeine is lost the longer the roasting process continues.

French roast is on the higher end when it comes to dark roasts, but it’s not the strongest in terms of flavour. It can sometimes taste burnt but also has a hint of sweetness underneath that.

By contrast, the Italian roast is one of the strongest in the world. Even though it is only roasted for a little bit longer than other dark roasts, it creates a much stronger flavour, at times tasting like it’s burnt or very bitter. On a surface level you may not be able to pinpoint the exact difference between the two roasts, but there definitely is a different. Italian roast is a lot stronger than a French roast.

What is French roast coffee?

As previously mentioned, French roast coffee is a dark roast coffee, but the name has nothing to do with France in relation to the beans themselves. This label goes back to the 19th century when people started to notice how coffee tasted in different European countries, which is why Italian and Spanish roasts exist too. In the coffee industry today, French roast is a term that just refers to the roasting style and level of the coffee.

The similarities and differences between French and Italian roasts

Since both French and Italian coffee are dark roasts, they generally are more similar than they are different. They are both dark and oily in appearance with a bitter and burnt taste, and a lower level of caffeine, it’s just that the Italian coffee is roasted for longer so those features will be more prominent than in the French roasted beans.

Are there differences in nutritional value?

As a rule of thumb, the longer you cook or roast something, the less nutrients are left at the end. So, as you roast coffee beans for longer, the chlorogenic acid starts to leak out. This acid is an antioxidant, meaning it helps your body to repair itself and helps to protect you from diseases like cancer.

Also, because the roasting process impacts how much caffeine is left in your coffee, a French roast might be the better option over Italian if you’re looking for an energy boost first thing in the morning. If you're looking for coffee with a sweeter flavour and more caffeine, a medium roast or light roast might be a better option for you.


French and Italian roasts can look and taste very similar if you aren’t too familiar with different types of coffee and why they are different. However, a trained palette will be able to notice the difference in strength and flavour between the longer roasted Italian coffee and the slightly less roasted French coffee.

If you’re interested in trying French roast and/or Italian dark roast coffee beans for yourself, you can purchase them from Pumphrey’s Coffee. As coffee experts and enthusiasts, we understand the importance of fresh, high-quality coffee and always strive to deliver the best to our customers. Contact us if you have any questions or queries, our team is happy to help.