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3 Reasons To Avoid French Roast Coffee
Written by: Garrett Oden
For decades, dark roasted coffee beans have been the apex of the coffee experience. They were the “strongest”, the “richest”, and—for some reason—the most “manly”. But the coffee world is changing, and it’s time we set aside these notions and discover the truth.
And the truth is… you should avoid french roast coffee.
Now, I realize that many people love french roast coffee. I don’t mean to tell you that you’re wrong for liking it. Your taste buds are uniquely yours.
However, if you want to experience the full range of rich coffee flavors (and not just a super tiny sliver), you’re going to have to move beyond the bold french roast.
Let me tell you why.
1. French Roast Beans Go Stale Faster
Coffee beans, like all agricultural products, taste best when they’re fresh. Unroasted beans maintain their flavors for up to twelve months. Once they’re roasted, they only have two weeks of peak flavor—-and that’s whole bean.
Pre-ground coffee? Only 30 minutes (yes, minutes) of peak flavor.
You see, roasting coffee causes hundreds of chemical reactions to take place very quickly. These chemical changes create rich flavors, but they also make the beans more volatile. The acids begin to decay quickly, the aromatic oils move to the surface of the bean and evaporate, and the sugars dissipate into bad flavors.
Coffee is already prone to going stale while you’re still working on a bag, which is why it’s so important to buy beans that are freshly roasted if you want to enjoy the flavors while they’re at peak balance, crispness, and sweetness.
🙌 This is why we ship coffee beans just 2 HOURS after they're roasted, to preserve those most delicate, interesting, and fresh flavors.
However, the situation is even worse for french roast coffee beans.
You see, when coffee companies roast coffee that dark, the coffee cell walls literally rupture. The aromatic oils that are stored in the cells race out and move to the bean’s surface (that’s why they look so oily).
Once they’re on the surface, they’re totally defenseless against the powers of evaporation and oxidation (destruction via oxygen). As a result, once you open that bag of french roast, those aromatic oils start decaying immediately.
So you don’t get the rich, vibrant aromas every brew like you should. You get them for the first and maybe the second cups. But after that, the beans taste far staler than they would have with a lighter, more forgiving roast.
Want to enjoy coffee at peak flavor and freshness? Avoid french roast coffee.
2. Those Beans Fuel Unsustainable Coffee Growing Systems
Nobody puts expensive Kobe beef steaks in a casserole. Nobody makes sugary cocktails with fancy bottles of scotch. And nobody makes french roast coffee with high-quality coffee beans.
Instead, french roast coffee is generally made using undesirable coffees.
These are the beans that have weird flavor defects. These are the beans that didn’t get enough nutrients and have no sweetness. These are the beans grown in climates that aren’t well suited for coffee production.
These are the commodity coffees that are bought at rock-bottom prices. We’re talking $1.28 per pound. In short, it’s unsustainable.
Coffee workers all over the world already are disadvantaged by…
- Lack of proper healthcare
- Limited access to education
- Seasonal income
- Malnutrition and poverty
- Lack of money to adapt farms to climate change
Rock-bottom coffee prices maintain this bleak status quo. But by doing so, they force farmers to miss out on higher prices and better opportunities.
But who’s going to pay more money for these low-grade beans? Excellent question.
There are plenty of coffee businesses who are investing in lower-end farms to help improve quality, consistency, and economic sustainability. They finance improvements for farms and processing stations and help farmers grow better coffee that can be sold at a higher price.
Support roasters who see this long-term vision for economic sustainability. They’re all over the place, but sellers of Fair Trade Certified coffee are a good place to start (Fair Trade producers typically get $0.20+ more per pound).
But even if you only buy the best of the best coffees, you’re still using your dollars to support financially sustainability for coffee.
3. There’s So Much More To Coffee Flavor
Even if a coffee roaster buys relatively flavorful coffee, when they french roast it, it’s going to taste like ash, charcoal, and carbon. That’s just how french roast coffee works.
This roast level is so dark that none of the unique flavors of that coffee survive. They’re literally roasted away. Instead, you get that bitter flavor from the coffee bean fibers burning and becoming similar to ash.
Let me show you how often this is the case.
- French roast from Costa Rica? Carbon and ash.
- French roast from Ethiopia? Carbon and ash.
- French roast from Sumatra? Carbon and ash.
Seriously, it doesn’t change. It’s that dark.
Here’s what it can look like with specialty-grade beans at a lighter roast level.
- Medium roast from Costa Rica? Orange tang, caramel sweetness, dark chocolate.
- Medium roast from Ethiopia? Strawberry sweetness, rose aromas, slight tartness.
- Medium roast from Sumatra? Piney, earthy, and a spicy aroma.
There’s so much diversity when it comes to coffee flavor, but french roasting destroys it all. Sure, some people actually like that uber-dark ashy flavor, but most of them have no idea what they’re missing out on.
I can’t suggest that you try out some lighter roasted coffees enough. They can have vibrant aromas, a crisp acidity, a refreshing sweetness, and rich, balanced flavors. They can be jaw-dropping good - if they come from a good roaster.
A great coffee roaster buys specialty-grade beans, roasts them to bring out the best flavors, and ships them to you ASAP so that you get to enjoy the coffee at peak freshness.
We love abiding by these rules and giving our Coffee Club subscribers mind-blowingly delicious coffee experiences. That’s why we source only the best coffees in the world, roast them like craftsmen (and not factory workers), and ship them to you on the same day.
You get to experience the riches of fresh, high-quality coffee, we get to thrive as a business, and our farm partners around the world get paid well for their care and passion. It’s a win-win-win.
Check out the Club for yourself!