What Is City Roast Coffee And What Does It Taste Like?

You're probably aware of light, medium, and dark roast coffee, but have you ever heard of city roast? City roast coffee is a product of third-wave coffee culture and is especially prevalent in roasted coffee beans of Nordic origin. Making city roast requires a unique technique that closely monitors the roasting of the coffee beans and quickly stops the process at the earliest stage possible. 

When coffee beans are roasted there is an important stage referred to as the first crack. This is when the beans first begin to split and make a cracking noise in the roaster. This stage typically occurs between 390 and 410 degrees Fahrenheit. City-roasted beans are made between 415 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, so almost immediately after the first crack. The result is a lightly roasted bean meant to honor the original characteristics of the coffee. 

City roast beans are usually a light brown color and also have very minimal oil on their surface. The more oily a coffee bean is, the less-nuanced the resulting coffee's flavor will be. Oil is a byproduct that is formed when the internal shell of the bean cracks. When the carbon dioxide vents and the bean is exposed to oxygen, oil results. Since city roasts are very minimally roasted, they don't get the chance to develop these external oils, and all the flavor stays locked inside.

What does city roast coffee taste like?

City roasts are most similar to your typical light roast and lighter medium roast coffees. They have a pungent flavor to them and are more acidic and sweet compared to other coffee roasts. When prepared correctly, city roasts strike the perfect balance of acidity in the cup and give your coffee that zingy mouthfeel. But in some cases, the city roast can produce a coffee that almost comes across as sour. 

It takes a careful roaster to create that perfect lightly roasted bean. Tasting notes commonly associated with city roasts are floral, wine, and fruit. This is due to the acidic nature of the roast and the fact that the light roasting preserves the natural coffee flavors. If you're a light roast fan, you'll probably enjoy a cup of city-roasted coffee. 

There are also full city roasts, which are roasted slightly longer and are therefore more similar to medium roast coffees. When you sip a cup of city roast, pay special attention to the mouthfeel. It should be light and smooth. You can find city-roasted coffee beans at various third-wave style coffee shops as well as online.