Cinnamon* roasts are generally dropped, that is, discharged from the roaster, sometime very early in first crack. Few consumers desire the green, grassy, often “peanutty” flavors of a cinnamon roast. However, some larger companies selling beans to cost-conscious consumers favor the very low weight loss of cinnamon roasts.
In the cup: Very acidic, often “green” or “peanutty,” with grassy and floral aromas and very light body.
City roasts are those dropped during the last stages of, or just after, first crack. Such roasts produce light-bodied coffee with very high acidity. City roasts are the current fashion among more progressive, or third-wave,** roasters and have historically been the standard in Nordic countries.
In the cup: Acidic, wine-y, sweet (especially if developed well), and juicy, with floral and fruity aromatics, hints of caramel, and light body. Can be grassy, lemony, and tart if not developed adequately.
Roasts discharged just before second crack [the temperature at which the beans emit another cracking sound, this one signifying the beginning of their collapse] and the appearance of surface oils are known as full city roasts. Many consumers prefer full city roasts because they offer a pleasing balance of moderate acidity, mellow caramels, and medium body.
In the cup: Caramelly, with ripe fruit and medium body.
Viennese roasts are those dropped in the early moments of second crack, when oil has just begun to migrate to bean surfaces. The standard roast degree offered by Starbucks Corporation is an example of a darker Viennese roast.***
In the cup: Bittersweet, caramelly, pungent, and often nutty or spicy, with heavy, syrupy body.
French roast indicates oily beans with pungent, bittersweet, and carbonized flavors. Such a dark roast makes it difficult to detect a bean’s unique character.
In the cup: Burnt, bitter, and smoky, with hints of caramel; body may be heavy or medium, as body peaks at a lighter French roast and declines with further roasting.
Most Italian roasters drop their coffees at medium roasts, but somehow the darkest, oiliest, and most bitter and carbonized roast level has come to be known as Italian roast. Almost all Italian roasts are rancid by the time they are consumed because their degraded cellulose structures allow rapid oxidation and staling.
In the cup: Burnt, smoky, rancid, and carbonized, with medium body.