Serving the Roasting Community with Expert Independent Reviews



List of Familiar Roast Stages

We offer this list to provide some clarity. This is not exhaustive; there are other degrees of roast and other ways to define these levels, but this, a practical glossary, is combined from many sources and reflects common usage:

  • Cinnamon Roast:
    - Light brown to cinnamon color
    - Beans are dry (no oil droplets present)
    - Agtron 53.1 - 58.0
    - Internal Bean Temperature - less than 400° F
    - Roast stopped before first crack is completed
    - Low body and light acidity

  • American Roast:
    - Medium light brown color
    - The beans are still dry
    - Agtron 48.1 - 53.0
    - Internal bean temperature - 400-415°
    - This is the stage where "first crack" begins
    - Profile - The acidity brightens and body increases slightly

  • City Roast:
    - Medium brown
    - The beans are mostly still dry
    - Agtron 43.1 - 48.0
    - The acidity continues to increase and the body becomes more potent
    - Internal bean temperature - 415-435°
    - First crack stage is finished
    - Profile - 50% of the sugar is caramelized, acidity is developed and the varietal character of a bean can be clearly tasted

  • City +:
    - A more developed stage of City Roast, well beyond first crack. This roast level definition is from a well-known supplier of green coffee.

  • Full City:
    - Rich brown color
    - Beans may show tiny droplets of oil
    - Agtron 38.1 - 43.0
    - Good Balance between sweetness, body and acidity
    - Internal bean temperature - 435-445°
    - Just into the first snaps of second crack
    - Varietal character is present with decreased acidity and slightly
    bittersweet "roast taste"

  • Full City +:
    - More developed version of Full City well into second crack. This definition is also from a well-known supplier of green coffee.

  • Vienna Roast:
    - Moderate dark brown color
    - Beans have oil on them
    - Agtron 33.1 - 38.0
    - Internal bean temperature - 445-455°
    - Second crack at or near completion
    - Acidity muted. Cup quality is bittersweet with heavier body

  • French Roast (some call this Italian and some also call the next stage, Italian):
    - Dark brown color
    - Beans covered with oil
    - Agtron 28.1 - 33.0
    - Acids are radically decreased
    - Internal bean temperature - 455-465°
    - Subtle nuances are mostly gone. Body dominates with burnt undertones
  • Spanish Roast (some call this Italian and some recognize Italian as
    another stage just before this one)
    - Beans are nearly black and oil-covered
    - Flavor compounds are degraded and charcoal tones are present
    - Agtron 8.0 - 28.0
    - Internal bean temperature - 465-480°
    - Burnt bitter tones dominate

    Roasting By Aroma

  • The roast gives off its characteristic origin aromas just as
    1st crack is winding down, and this is probably a good spot for
    an American Roast.

  • To achieve a City Roast by aroma, stop the roaster at the first whiff of caramel odors.

  • The temperature at which the second cracks starts, will go
    down with longer roast times and lower supply temperatures. On a
    slow drum, the first pop of the second can still be a light-to-medium
    City Roast, not a Full City Roast. On some drum roasters,
    stopping at the characteristic "burnt oil" smell is the best way to get a
    classic Full City Roast.

  • Waiting for a the beans to show oil in the roaster is the hallmark
    of a Vienna or a dark Full City Roast.


UPDATED: June 18, 2007