What Is City Roast Coffee?

If you love coffee, you’ve heard of the roast level and all it entails. There are many ways in which coffee is roasted, and one of the most distinctive is City Roast Coffee. So, what is City Roast Coffee, and what sets this roast apart from your morning Mr. Coffee gourmet?

What Is City Roast Coffee?

City roast, also called New England roast, is medium- to dark-roasted coffee with a more pronounced flavor than lighter roasts. The darker color of city roast coffee is typical of longer roasting times or darker beans. Typically, city roasts occur between 415 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit just after the first crack begins, around 395 to 405 degrees.

Roasted coffee beans in a black metal tin can on a brown surface

City roast coffee is traditionally used for espresso drinks because it has enough body to stand up to milk yet isn’t too dark. It would overpower other flavors in an espresso drink, like hazelnut or vanilla.

What Makes Them So Popular?

City roasts are the most popular among coffee shops and retail buyers. Most coffee consumed in the United States is roasted to a city degree. A city roast is light enough to be enjoyed as a breakfast coffee, though dark enough to be drunk with milk and sugar.

City Roast Tastes Good

The roast level you choose has a significant impact on the flavor profile of your coffee. “City” is generally favored by coffee drinkers because it tastes good. It’s not that other roast levels can’t taste good; it’s just that “City” tends to have a more approachable flavor profile that appeals to a broader swath of consumers.

“City” also produces bolder flavors than light roasts, which makes them ideal for those who like their coffee rich, robust, and flavorful. Their nutty flavor makes them ideal for iced coffee drinks like mochas and lattes.

City Roasts Are Easy to Make

City is also relatively easy to make in large batches. This is because they have a more consistent flavor profile — you don’t have to pay attention to what the beans look like when they come out of the oven. They will all be relatively similar in color after they cool down and become ready for grinding and brewing.

That makes it easier for someone who doesn’t have much experience with roasting or hasn’t yet mastered their craft to produce consistent results over time.

City Roast Is Versatile

Finally, they are versatile enough to be used in different brewing methods and for different beverages, from straight-up drip coffee to espresso-based specialty drinks like cappuccinos and lattes. This means you won’t have to worry about upgrading your equipment if you offer more than one type of drink at your cafe down the road!

How Is City Degree Roasting Done?

The roasting process typically begins with a coffee bean that has been dried to 10-12% moisture content. This allows the beans to roast more smoothly and evenly in the roaster.

The roasting process turns green beans into brown and then black ones.

When the temperature reaches 385 degrees Fahrenheit, the beans start to crackle and pop as they roast in the hot air from the oven. This sound is known as the “first crack,” or sometimes the “first pop” or “first hiss,” depending on who you ask.

After about ten minutes at this temperature, your beans will start to turn yellowish-brown in color and become oily in appearance. The next stage is known as the “City Degree Roast.”

Different coffee beans in three clear glass jars and a coffee cup on a white surface

City-Degree Roast (415 and 425 Degrees Fahrenheit)

To achieve the city-level roast, the roaster lets the beans develop for a few minutes longer (or just after) first crack at roughly 415 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit, giving more time for heat to penetrate the structure of the beans. The benefits of doing this include:

  • A richer flavor profile because flavorful oils have more time to develop
  • Less acidity and more sweetness. Acidic flavors are diminished at this stage, while sugars become more prominent
  • Increased Aroma
  • A darker color than city light roasts

Related Questions

Is City Roast Good for Espresso?

City roast is suitable for espresso. It’s a dark roast that is used for both filter and espresso. The darker the roast, the more oils you’ll get in your cup, which means more flavor and body.

Is There a Difference Between “City” and “Full City”?

The main difference between a city and a full city is the roast level. A “city” is slightly lighter than a full city. City roasts are also referred to as American or New York roasts, while full city roasts are referred to as Vienna or French roasts. The darker the roast, the more caffeine will be extracted from the beans during the roasting process.


The City roast refers to the process of roasting coffee beans to a medium-level roast, which is a level that is light to medium brown. This roast is so popular among roasters because it tastes good, is easy to make, and is versatile(used in different types of beverages).