Italian roast coffee is most popularly associated with the offerings at Starbucks, who we do have to thank for giving this roast the attention it deserved. Italian roast coffee is a unique option that provides flavors that will leave a lot of different kinds of coffee lovers satisfied—while also being a bit more for others. We have all of the scoops on the roast, from its origin to where to find it now!
Is it… from Italy?
Similar to a French roast, the name is deceiving! The beans themselves are actually from the popular Latin American, African, and Asian countries. This is no different from where most coffees are from because it really does just come down to how the beans are roasted.
The “Italian” label actually pays homage to how the roast style is common in southern Italy. Go to Italy and you are bound to be surrounded by this roasting style (TBD whether they call it Italian roast over there). Much like the popularity of espresso in Italy, we only expect the best when it comes to an Italian roast.
Check out “Types of Coffee Roasts” to see the different kinds of roasts available.
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How is it Roasted?
Consider an Italian Roast somewhere between a medium roast and a dark roast but much further on the darker side of that spectrum. This is accomplished by being roasted so that the bean is visibly oily with a rich, dark color. The bean is roasted between 437°F- 446°F to get the perfect taste. Read up on “What is Dark Roast Coffee?” to see exactly what entails in this roast.
Italian roast is going to be visibly dark and oily, but not as much as a French roast. Then neither of those are quite the darkest roast out possible. A Spanish roast is what you will want to look for if you want to take the flavor a step forward in the cooked flavor, as in you like a more burnt taste in coffee.
This roasting style not only makes the unique flavor of the Italian roast but also makes it easier on the stomach. The longer roasting time takes away the natural acidity found in the coffee beans, which some people cannot handle as well as others.
It’s good to know where your coffee roast comes from, but there is a bigger chance that you just brew it and drink it (rather than roast it yourself). Well, there is a lot to know once it is in your mug!
Be sure to also check out “Light vs Dark Roast Coffee” to see the differences between the two.
How Much Caffeine Does Italian Roast Have?
Caffeine content might be the one element of the Italian roast that has a bit more of a downside—but not as much as you think. It’s what brings out the flavor in Italian roasts that ultimately expel the caffeine from the coffee bean, leaving it less dense and less caffeinated. Check out “How Much Caffeine is in a Cup of Coffee” to find out the contents of your cup.
The difference in caffeine between an Italian roast and a light roast, or any other roast, is not going to be hugely substantial. Individually, the beans will be less caffeinated, but once they are ground and brewed, the difference is not going to be insane from cup to cup. Also, check out “Does Dark Roast Coffee Have More Caffeine?” for more caffeine-related info in your coffee.
What Does it Taste Like?
Due to the sweet balance between a medium and dark roast, an Italian roast will be a bit stronger in flavor. The bitter taste that can come with dark roasts forms when a roast has hit the point where it becomes Italian, but it is not heated so much as to lose the fruity notes that are more associated with medium roasts than dark roasts. Want more information about the medium roast coffees? Check out “What is Medium Roast Coffee?” for more.
As the beans are heated more, the bean loses more of its natural flavor and depends more on the flavors that come from the roasting process. One example of this is the sweetness that comes from caramelization. The thick-bodied coffee is going to smoky and nutty with added lighter notes as well.
Is Italian Roast Better for Cold or Hot Coffee?
The long steeping process involved in the cold brew is perfect. That gives the flavors more time to interact with the water. Once the cold brew is properly diluted, the Italian roast’s flavor shines through without being too overpowering. Don’t really have too much of an insight on cold brew coffee? Check out “Brew Guide: Cold Brew Coffee” for a full guide!
Some of Our Favorite Italian Roasts:
A number of roasters and coffee sellers make medium-dark roasts without calling it that. We like to consider a properly roasted coffee as such, so we have a number of coffees that are worth trying that fit the label of Italian roast:
- Lavazza’s Gran Filtro Italian Roast is said to work best with a drip or filter coffee machine.
- Blue Island Coffee’s Island Espresso is a perfect medium-dark roast that captures the essence of Italian Roasts (although they do not call it that).
- Old Brooklyn Coffee slow roasts their beans to ensure more flavor, and their Italian Dark Roast is both bold and with a kick.
- Allegro Coffee has been around since 1977, so they have had time to perfect their blends—including their Organic Italian Roast.
- Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC, Italian Roast Espresso Coffee has tangy fruity undertones.
Do you have any more favorites that we are forgetting? Comment below!
What to Drink If it is Too Dark For You
It is not uncommon to find an Italian roast too dark. Being a notch under the french roast, it is still going to be one of the darkest options in your local shops. That deep flavor is perfect for some people, and not so perfect for others—there is no denying that. We are not here to say you need to drink it black, but Italian roast might not be for you if you have to drown it in creamers.
If you are a fan of coffee creamers, we suggest taking a look at this informative Coffee Sesh article: “Is Coffee Creamer Unhelathy?”
- Consider a medium roast instead if you prefer a balance of notes from between sweet and fruity taste. Plus, medium roast is one of the most preferred roasts out there!
- Consider a light roast instead if the caffeine content really is important to you–and if you prefer sweet and fruity notes.
- Always consider what roast is recommended for your given brewing technique! Consider that an Italian roast can be helpful with a drip coffee machine, because drip machines may otherwise make a flat coffee. On the other hand, a Chemex will bring out the flavor from a variety of brews!
We hope you enjoyed our piece on Italian Roast coffee! It really is one of the more intricate roasts with a rich history behind it—it is still up in the air whether they call it an Italian Roast in Italy or not…
Be sure to read up on related articles like Does Dark Roast Have More Caffeine? and What’s the Difference Between Cold Brew & Iced Coffee?. Also, stay in touch with us by joining our Coffee Community on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with all things coffee-related, there are over 80,000 people talking about coffee there!
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We’ll brew ya later!! ☕️