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Some Help to Identify Roast Stages

In my humble opinion, there is no true template or chart to explain the various names given to coffee roasting.  Many roasters over the years have added to the field of roast names, and I myself have borrowed these various names at times. That being said, there appears to be too many varying opinions in the coffee roasting world to produce a standard. But here is a little help to give some clarity, and many roasters and companies would agree. This by no means is exhaustive.  For more information and some pictures of the roast stages feel free to visit the following site:

Cinnamon Roast:  The Lightest Roast
  • The bean is light brown to cinnamon color
  • Beans are dry (no visible oil droplets present)
  • Low body and light acidity
  • The flavor is baked or "bready" like toasted grain.  There will likely be definite sour tones.
  • There is not much body in cinnamon roasted coffee.

American or New England Roast:  Medium Light Brown
  • This roast is slightly darker than the cinnamon roast without the toasted, grainy flavor
  • There are some sour tones to the bean
  • The acidity brightens and the body increases slightly.
  • This development of the coffee body is the one many prefer.

City Roast:  Medium Brown
  • This is the beginning of medium roasted coffee.
  • The acidity continues to increase and may be at its height in this roasting stage.
  • The bean characteristics start to break out and develop at this stage.
  • The body of the coffee strengthens even more.

Full City:  Medium Dark Brown
  • Well-developed body
  • The beans will start to show tiny oil droplets on the surface of the beans.
  • The variety of the bean or its individual character is present with a decrease in acidity.
  • Slightly bittersweet caramel or chocolate undertones.

Full City Plus and/or Vienna Roast:  Moderate Dark Brown Color
            (I personally roast  most coffee to this stage.) 
  • More development of the Full City Roast. Richness.
  • The acidity blends or merges in with the other character tones of the beans.
  • The body is full or heavy, which characterizes darker roasted coffees, rich and vibrant flavor.
  • The varietal characteristics are still intact.  (I personally roast a lot of coffee to this stage.)
  • The surface of the bean always displays some oil, ranging from a few droplets to a shiny coating.

Espresso Roast or Light French:  Moderate/Dark Brown
  • Moderate dark brown with oily drops, light surface oil.
  • The coffee has bittersweet tones, caramel flavor and acidity disappears.

French Roast:  Dark Brown
  • Popular for Espresso shots and drinks.
  • The surface of the bean appears wet with significant amounts of oil coating the surface.  
  • Highly popular West Coast roasting (which has now moved East)
  • Bean characteristics or nuances are mostly gone.
  • The body begins to thin and the cup is dominated with burnt, smoky undertones
  • A definite dark roast where the bittersweet or dark roast taste completely dominates the cup

Spanish Roast:  Darkest Roast (some call this Italian)
  • Beans are nearly black (darkest brown) and oil covered.
  • Flavor compounds are degraded and charcoal tones really take over.
  • Charcoal-like burnt bitter tones dominate.