The Difference is in the Roast

Depending on the region you’re in, the coffee shop you frequent, or the brand of beans you buy; roast names will vary, but they all come down to the same pre-set industry standards.   The roasts are classified by their taste, their color, and the amount of time they were roasted. Knowing a little more on the difference between roasts can help you in making a better coffee selection that best suites your taste buds.

Cinnamon (or New England) Roast

Cinnamon roasts are very commonly used by large retailers and donut shops, as well as high end roasters. The Cinnamon roast is the lightest roast with a very high acidity and less body. It is a more revealing roast, as in 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 just as little body. The difference between the City roast and Cinnamon roast are the caramel notes that are present , which is not present in the cinnamon roast. It has a slightly longer roasting time, and some loss of acidity. Most specialty coffee is roasted to this roast level.


The Vienna roast first became popular in coffee houses all over Austria. It is slightly darker than the City roast and begins presenting with some oil. This roast finds itself in the middle of the other roast types, thus making it a good choice for those who are unsure of what roast they prefer. And, while you can effectively enjoy the particular beans unique tastes you will also taste a very present thicker and more syrupy taste.


Making your way into the darker roasts, you’ll find Espresso roast. It has far less acidity than the lighter roasts preceding it, making it perfect for the espresso brewing process, and offering a very balanced flavor.


The Italian roast is a more complex roast. It is more oily than the Espresso roast, contains much less acid, and is almost bittersweet in flavor while also bringing forth a very pronounced coffee flavor. A very popular choice for dark roast enthusiasts.


The French roast, darkest of all roasts, is the boldest and smokiest of all the roasts. It has a very oily,robust, smokey flavor with often strong notes of hickory. Often times the bean flavor is completely lost in this roast, but not if a roaster knows what they’re doing.