What is Italian Roast Coffee? (Everything You Need to Know)

We’ve all heard of the Italian roast. If you’re like me, you probably assumed that Italian roast coffee ships straight from Italy. However, this is not the case.

Yup, Starbucks’ expensive coffee prices are not a result of them importing straight from Italy. No, they are just trying to make a lot of money… shocker I know.

What exactly is Italian roast coffee?

The Italian roast coffee is all about how it’s roasted, not where it’s produced or grown. Really the beans come from places where all coffee beans are grown, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

So, let’s dig right in to answer the question “What is Italian Roast coffee?”

How Italian Roast Coffee is Roasted

First the roasting process.

If we are to look at the roasting spectrum, Italian roast is very much on the dark side.

Because of this dark roasting process, you can expect Italian roast beans to be rather oily. Why? Well, read my post on oily coffee beans to get a better idea.

The appearance of an Italian roast coffee is very similar to what you would expect with a French roast. Dark and oily. However, Italian roast coffees are not roasted quite as much as French roast coffee, so they are not as dark.

Regardless, expect the boldness of a traditional dark roast, which to many people is preferable.

Caffeine Content in Italian Roast Coffee

Technically an Italian roast, being a darker roast, will have slightly less caffeine than a lighter roast. This is because some of the caffeine is vaporized into gas during the longer roasting process.


Is it a big difference? No, not really. Coffee has plenty of caffeine in it no matter what kind of roast you get. Unless it’s decaf… obviously.

The things that really affect the caffeine content of coffee are things like brew methods, type of bean, and how fine the grounds are.

And of course, if you want more caffeine, you can just put more coffee grounds in, that will do the trick.

So What Does An Italian Roast Taste Like?

Man drinking coffee

Some call it bittersweet.

Some argue that the Italian Roast is roasted just enough to give you the bitter coffee flavor of a dark roast but also keeping the fruity, inherent flavors of the coffee that are kept with a medium roast.

Generally speaking, an Italian roast traditionally is pretty far right on the light to dark spectrum scale so be prepared for the smokey, roasty kind of coffee flavor that you would expect from something that was essentially charred on the surface just shy of completely burning the beans.

It’s all personal preference. Personally, I prefer a darker or lighter roast depending on the time of day and if it’s paired with food or not!

I don’t discriminate when it comes to coffee.

Is the Italian Roast Acidic?

The Italian roast tends to be less acidic due to the roasting process. Roasting coffee beans longer tends to diminish the acidic properties of coffee.

So if you are someone that has a sensitive stomach, you should strongly consider switching to medium or dark roasts.

Why is this the case?

Well, it’s not about less acid in the coffee but rather more NMP. What is NMP you ask? Without going into too much detail, NMP is a compound created in the roasting process that, when interacting with stomach cells, causes less acid production.

Dark roast = more NMP = less acid in tummy. That’s all you really need to know.

Is Italian Roast Coffee Good for Cold Brew?

Cold Brew

Really there are a lot of contrasting opinions on this matter. Some people swear by light roast being better for cold brew while others believe a dark roast is better.

Really the answer to this question is personal preference.

But generally speaking, people tend to lean towards a dark roast being the better roast for cold brew coffee. Therefore, yes, Italian roast coffee is good for cold brew.

Why do people tend to gravitate this way?

Well, the darker roasts tend to exhibit more “robust, earthy, chocolatey” flavors. It just so happens that the cold brew process tends to do a better job of extracting these kinds of flavors as opposed to the “fruity” kind of flavors more common in a light roast.

Once again it boils down to personal preference, try both and see what you prefer!

Italian Espresso

The Italian roast is known for making good espresso. Man those Italians love their espresso.

People in Italy don’t drink their coffee in drip form as we pansy Americans do, they essentially drink espresso straight. That’s why it’s only natural that the Italian roast is expertly constructed in a way to optimize the espresso drink.


It makes sense that the roast named after the people who primarily enjoy espresso would be a good roast for espresso.


All in all the Italian roast coffee is very tasty and should be enjoyed no matter what your personal coffee preference is.

This type of coffee roast is not named the Italian roast because it comes from Italy but rather due to the roasting method.

This roast is a dark roast and you can expect very robust flavors. This darker roast tends to have slightly less caffeine content but is also better for those sensitive to acidity.

Generally speaking, in addition to normal brewing methods, an Italian roast is good for cold brew methods as well as espresso.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or anything else to add!


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