Understanding Coffee Roasts

The roast degree indicates the degree to which the green coffee is roasted -- how dark it is-- which is determined by how long the coffee beans stay in the roaster. Any coffee type can be roasted to any roast degree. A given coffee type is generally roasted to a roast degree that will bring out its best characteristics. Below is a list of some of the most common roast degree names and their general appearance. Be aware that roast degree names are simply that-- names; there are currently no uniform standards agreed to by all coffee roasters, though most use the names similarly.

Roast Name Roast Degree/Color
Cinnamon very light brown
City Roast light brown
Full City Roast / *Capricorn Roast* medium brown
Italian Roast dark brown
Light French Roast slightly darker brown
Dark Italian Roast deeply dark brown
Dark French Roast darkest brown-almost black

Though the roasting process and ultimately the roast degree have a profound impact on the taste of the final beverage, it is not possible to identify a specific taste characteristic for each roast degree because the green beans contribute a lot of the final taste, particularly in lighter roasts. A couple of useful general notes, however, are that:

  • Lighter roasting emphasizes acidity, while darker roasting emphasizes body (though body is sometimes lost in very dark roasts)
  • Coffees roasted to a French or Italian roast often lose their inherent characteristics, taking on a uniform carbony taste, which is very popular in San Francisco and throughout the West Coast.

Our Capricorn roast, a Full City roast, is our signature roast that we apply to most of our single-origin coffees, as it best allows a rich, developed roast while still allowing each coffee to retain the beautiful and diverse qualities inherited from its particular growing region.