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Tips For Picking The Perfect Coffee Roast

Aug 18, 2007
There aren't many of us who know the difference between a Spanish Roast blend and a Vienna. Most just grab the French standards and get out of there, but you may be missing out on some great coffees.

The basic idea behind roasting is that a roast should best compliment the bean's origins, and it's the roasting process that really brings out a coffee bean. Some of the most common roasts include; French, Italian, Vienna or City, American and European.

French roast makes a black and oily coffee. The beans are roasted longer, giving them their darkness. The flavor has a slight burnt taste and because the long roast releases the oil in the beans, you'll always notice that shiny film floating on top.

Italian roast is for espresso or cappuccino. It's a very dark roast, almost burned, and the beans are shiny and brittle. You don't want to use this type for a regular American-style coffee, it would be overwhelming.

Vienna, also known as City Roast, is a light roast favored because it allows the bean's natural flavor to come out. If you're dealing with a fruitier or nuttier bean, sometimes the Vienna is a nice way to retain that touch. The Full City Roast is similar, but with a longer roasting process to extract a more fuller, deeper flavor. It also gives the coffee a bit of a caramel taste, making it a popular choice at coffee houses.

Meanwhile, the American roast is very light and quite common in commercial, grocery store blends. It's best suited to coffee drinkers who like a gentler flavor and tend to avoid the overly bitter or acidic tasting blends. The result is a medium-brown coffee.

Last but not least is the European roast. This is sometimes called the Espresso Roast, After-Dinner Roast, or the Continental Roast. The coffee is brought to a darker level than the traditional American flavor, but settles on a dark brown. It has a rich, bitter-sweet tendency and is just as popular as the American style.

To find a roast that's right for you, think about bitterness and richness. Often, the darker the roast - the fuller the flavor, but remember that fullness comes with a burnt aftertaste, one that some drinkers adore and some despise. The best advice for picking a roast is try them until you find a style that jumps out at your palette.
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