Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why I Don't Like French Roast Coffee

As a result of roasting our own coffee beans, I have learned more about coffee and the properties of the various roast types.  For example, French roast.   I have tried many versions and have never found one that I liked - one that I wanted to go back to and drink again.  Why is that?

French roast is coffee has been roasted for longer time, well into the  "second crack"stage, so what you get is a a very dark roast.  At the French roast stage, the beans are very oily and almost black.

As you roast beans, the flavors change.  At lighter roasts, the beans will have more of its "origin flavor" which result from its variety and growing conditions and locations.  Here's where you can taste the differences between the Sumatran and Guatamalan and the Ethiopian beans. 

Keep roasting them long enough, and the specific flavors of the bean are increasingly replaced by mostly carbony flavors.  At the French roast stage, it doesn't matter so much where the beans came from and or what kind they were or how well they were grown, because all those distinctive elements are overpowered by the charcoal taste. 

And so, French roasts tasted kind of burnt.  

Turns out I am not the only one who prefers the lighter roasts. 

My favorite part of this Wall Street Journal article comes at the end, because it echoes what Foodgoat complained about to me this very morning:
"Because quality beans, properly roasted retain more natural sweetness, Mr. Wells says that he won't offer sugar when he opens his first café in February. He adds he has served thousands of coffees at events and has never offered sugar, to the consternation of some consumers.
Many consumers erroneously associate dark-roasted coffee with "strong" coffee, Mr. Howell says. "Strength is a matter of how much coffee to water," he says. While some drinkers enjoy the flavorful jolt of a dark coffee, "light roast rewards waiting a little bit, like letting a wine open after it has been poured," and can taste even better as it cools, Mr. Howell says. Light roasts are best enjoyed without cream or sugar because they can be naturally sweet and not bitter, he adds."
Why do I know that French roasts tastes burnt?  Because I drink coffee black.  No sugar.  No cream. 

Lighter roasts don't need sugar or cream to taste good; they don't have the bitter, burnt flavor that needs to be covered up with sweeteners.

They let the coffee taste delicious just as they are. 


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  2. I agree with your views on French roast coffee. I drink coffee without cream or sugar and find that the French Roast I have been drinking lately is too bitter for my taste. I have tried coarser grind settings and shorter brew times but the result is always more bitter than I would like. I think I'll switch to a lighter roast once I'm done with my current batch of Java Beans And Joe French Roast. After reading your article I am now less inclined to believe that my methods are to blame for the bitter taste of French roast coffee.

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