The coffee industry's lack of an agreed-upon nomenclature for degrees of roast can causes confusion. The bean itself has a lot of different aromas and flavors depending on variety, climate, soil, process, quality and some coffee beans are by nature more floral and fruity, while others have more more caramel, nutty and chocolate aromas, but the following descriptors by San Rao represent common and reasonable interpretations of various roast degrees.
Cinnamon roast 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."Cinnamon" relates to the color of the beans at this roast level, and has nothing to do with the flavor of cinnamon.
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 consumers and have historically been the standard in Nordic Countries.
In the cup: Acidic, winey, sweet, and juicy, where you can taste all the natural aromas in the bean. Light body (Can be grassy if not developed adequately)
Roasts discharged just before second crack 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.
In the cup: Bittersweet, 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 beans unique character.
In the cup: Burnt, bitter and smoky with hints of caramel: body may be heavy or medium, at body peaks at a lighter French roast and declines with further roasting
Many Italian roasters drop their coffees at medium roasts, but the darkest, oiliest, and most bitter and carbonized roast level has come to be known as Italian roast.
In the cup: Burnt, smoky, rancid and carbonized, with medium body