3 Reasons Why French Roast Coffee Is Good For Espresso


Nothing beats a perfectly pulled shot of espresso – the intense aroma and flavor, the rich crema, and much-needed caffeine kick. But, to achieve perfection each time, it all starts with the right beans. The best roast to use for coffee shots is a medium to dark roast. While there is no such thing as espresso beans, some companies produce their own “espresso blends” to create flavors and tastes they deem appropriate for espresso.

French roast coffee is good for espresso as it is pretty dark; it has a smoky flavor with some light citrusy notes for more complexity in your beverage. It may be slightly intense for some people, but many coffee lovers enjoy using it for espresso-based drinks.

Let’s explore more of what French Roast coffee is and its flavors; let’s also look at how it compares to Espresso Roast. It helps to know how this roast compares to other coffees to decide if it’s something you want to try.

French Roast beans are pretty dark. They are nearly as dark as the Italian roast, and these dark roasts fair better for espresso than lighter ones.

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If you roasted coffee beans to a French Roast at home, you would want to achieve the “second crack” – evidence that the beans’ internal structure is starting to break down.

This calls for the internal temperature to be at 240 C (463 F). Also, look out for the quintessential oily sheen on the beans’ surface. With French Roast coffee, you can expect a decent, full body of flavor with every brew.

French roast might seem like a very confusing term if you only know light, medium, and dark roast coffee. French roast doesn’t mean the beans were grown or even roasted in France ( even though that was where the roasting style originated in the 1800s); it simply describes the color of the coffee beans once they have been roasted.

There is lots of variety between French Roasts but also some essential similarities. The high temperatures in the roasting process always bring the oils to the surface, giving a smoky, roasted flavor to the espresso.

The coffee also possesses some lighter attributes like citrus or berry notes despite the darker roasting process. French Roasts from Sumatra typically have mushroom, earthy flavors that beautifully set the dark brown roast.

Be aware that there are usually specific issues with many French Roasts. For starters, they tend to lose their freshness sooner than lighter roasts.

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This is because the oils turn rancid faster than beans with the oil still encased inside. The only solution is to purchase only the amount of whole bean coffee you need for the week.

Another issue is that many French Roast coffees come from blends that use inferior quality beans; many roasters try to mask the poor-quality coffee by roasting it very dark.

The key to getting great French Roast coffee is to purchase from quality roasters with the Fair Trade mark – as you also want to promote equitable relationships between farmers and roasters.

Is Starbucks French Roast Coffee Good For Espresso?

Starbucks’ French Roast is an excellent coffee for making espressos due to its dark color. It’s also not too acidic and has a light body while having bold flavors.

Starbucks’ French Roast is unsurprisingly one of the company’s most popular roasts; it is 100% Arabica, which is the best bean – it’s been much loved by customers since 1971. It comes from the Asia Pacific and Latin America.

The coffee house may have intended to use French Roast for pour-over and not necessarily espresso machines. However, many people like making espressos with French Roast coffee.

The French Roast is Starbucks’ darkest coffee, and the first thing that hits you is the smokiness; you can taste it and smell it, which is heaven for many coffee fans.

The best way to taste French Roast is straight from a French press as it is better at retaining the coffee’s natural oils for a more full-bodied flavor.

Whichever method you decide to make coffee with the French roast, measure your coffee as darker coffees weigh less in volume than blonde/light roasts due to their porous nature.

The grind size is critical; it’s best to use whole coffee beans and grind them yourself. For making espresso, you need a fine grind which you can quickly achieve with a burr grinder.

French Roast Vs. Espresso Roast

Many major coffee Industries, including Starbucks, have “Espresso Roast” labeled on some of their coffees; we understand there is no such bean as an espresso bean.

Some roasters produce Espresso roasts because they have decided that some of their green beans will taste better as an espresso.

The roaster makes this decision by sampling some of the coffee and tasting it during different brewing methods. When they discover that making it as espresso will bring out the most from their coffee, they take the rest of the beans and roast them with espresso-making in mind.

The beans selected for the Espresso Roast will be roasted a little darker than coffee intended for filter coffee. The reason is that many espresso shots will be added to milk beverages, and a darker roasted coffee produces more complimentary tastes with smoky undertones and caramelized notes.

Those flavors pair better with milk than a lighter roast with more acidity; even when there is some acidity in the dark roast, the sugars in the milk balance out any bitter taste.

Extraction is affected by different roasts; as you roast a coffee bean, gases build up inside the cells, which makes the bean stretch which makes the bean more porous.

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This is crucial, as the more porous the beans, the easier it is for the water, during extraction, to get inside the cells and draw out all the beans’ flavors and aromatics, and it takes up less water.

French Roast and Espresso Roast are pretty similar in color, and they are both full-bodied coffees with robust flavors; they are both 100% Arabica, but there are some differences.

French roast is smoky and intense, while the Espresso Roast is sweet and caramelly. While French Roast works well for espresso, it tastes best when used for French Press coffee, as this draws out all the oils in the bean.

The roasters that make Espresso Roast coffee know what they are doing, and the beans they have will taste their best in espresso-based drinks.

Which Coffee Beans Are Best For Espresso?

While you can use any coffee beans you like, certain beans will taste better as espresso. Darker roasted beans are better to make espresso than lighter roasts.

The coffee industry understands that certain beans produce a more espresso flavor that cannot be achieved with regular beans, and people expect the espresso they order to taste a certain way.

A dark roast will always pair better with milk for cappuccinos and lattes, as the dark roast balances the creaminess of the milk.

It’s best to use roasts that are somewhere in the middle of the dark spectrum; this way, you can guarantee good results for lattes and flat whites in addition to single coffee shots.

You will know that a bean is dark if the oil migrates outside of the bean. French and Italian roasts, which are dark, always have a shiny surface. Fully roasted coffee will be dark but dry in appearance, and this roast might be too dark even for espresso.

When looking at bags of coffee, check out the roast date. As with all kinds of coffee, espresso tastes better when fresh, and the best period for espresso is one to four weeks after being roasted.

When buying coffee online, buy your coffee straight from the roaster, it may cost more in shipping, but this way, you can guarantee fresher roasted beans.

There is a lot of debate between Arabica and Robusta, and Robusta has had some bad publicity. The commercial coffee industry sees Arabica as a superior coffee bean while they see Robusta as an inferior bean.

While it is rare to get delicious Robusta, it is possible. Robusta, by nature, is less acidic and less sweet than Arabica, but then it has more caffeine and a better crema.

A properly grown Robusta can taste very pleasant as a single-origin espresso. Some companies source the finest Robusta beans, but generally, it is used to make powder coffees.

If you want to try Robusta, you need to purchase from a reputable company. A few brands are selling 100% Robusta beans like Death Wish, Caffe Borbone, and Vinacafe, and they are well worth a look.

Final Thoughts

French Roast Coffee is good for espresso, you may or may not like it, but it’s worth at least trying it. Coffee is meant to be enjoyed, and it doesn’t hurt to experiment with different blends, roasts, bean species, and methods; you don’t have to only use coffee labeled “espresso blend” for espresso. So give French Roast espresso a try.

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