Colombian coffee and French roast are two popular types of coffee that you see in every store. I love tasting and comparing different coffee blends, and I wanted to know which was best.

I decided to put Colombian coffee and French roast coffee to the test. I looked at all the key factors (taste, aroma, price, etc.) to see how Colombian and French roast compared.

In this guide, I’ll give you the full Colombian vs. French roast breakdown and help you decide which type of coffee you prefer.

How Different Are The Tasting Notes?

Colombian coffee and French roast coffee have very different flavor profiles.

Colombia's coffee is:

  • Smooth and medium bodied.
  • Chocolatey and nutty, with sweet caramel flavors.
  • Bright and fruity, with hints of red berries and tropical fruits.

All in all, Colombia produces a balanced and well-rounded coffee that's perfect as a breakfast drink.

French roast coffee has a much stronger and more robust flavor profile. It has dark chocolate notes and a smoky, almost charcoal-like flavor.

It can have sweet notes, but it’s usually just a bold flavor. Unlike other dark roasts, there are no bitter flavors in the aftertaste. I often enjoy a French Roast with my evening dessert.

French roast coffee beans are grown around the world, so the flavors can vary, but it’s definitely an acquired taste. Casual coffee drinkers will prefer Colombian coffee.

Aroma Differences

Just like the taste, Colombian coffee and French roast coffee smell very different - and that can impact your brew.[1]

Colombian coffee has a rich but not overpowering aroma. It has a nutty and sweet smell that enhances the mellow taste of the brew.

French roast smells dark and smokey. Like most dark roast coffee, it has a strong aroma and can even smell slightly burnt.

French roast coffee is perfect for those who enjoy a bold, almost bitter brew. Colombian coffee is best for those who like lighter, more flavorsome coffee aromas.

Growing Regions - Climate, Soil and Conditions

Colombian coffee is so good because it has high altitude areas, tropical heat, and rich volcanic soil so the Colombian coffee beans maximize their unique flavor.[2]

It’s perfect for Arabica coffees, which are superior to Robusta beans grown in other countries in South America.

There are 3 distinct Colombian growing regions:

  • South Colombia: Colombian Arabica beans from this region are grown in high elevations and slightly lower temperatures giving complex flavors.
  • North Colombia - Arabica coffee is shade-grown and has deeper chocolate notes and caramel flavor.
  • Central Colombia: The coffee blend here has a medium body and acidity.

French roast coffee can come from anywhere but most French roast coffee comes from Africa, Central America, and Indonesia, and the growing conditions will vary.

Acidity Levels – Which Is Higher?

Colombian coffee and French roasted coffee both have low acidity.

Colombian coffee growers wash the beans which removes some of the acidity. The beans are then roasted to a medium or medium dark roast level which removes more acids than light roasts.

Dark roast coffees always have less acidity, and French roasted coffee is the darkest roast.

The long exposure to high temperatures breaks down the acids in the coffee bean, leaving more intense flavors but removing the complexity.

Despite the stronger taste, the dark roasting of French roasted coffee means it has a lower acidity than Colombian coffee. 

That makes it a better option for those with sensitive stomachs.

Caffeine Levels – Which Is Higher?

The dark roasts used in French roast coffee give it a bolder taste than Colombian coffee. However, Colombian and French roast coffee contains around the same caffeine content.

French roast coffee can come from any green coffee beans, and the caffeine content will vary.

However, dark roasts have less caffeine than lighter roasts, so French roast coffee is always relatively weak.[3]

Still, that doesn't make Colombian coffee stronger because it's relatively mild.

A standard Colombian coffee will contain around 90-150mg of caffeine per cup. French roast coffee typically has 80-150mg.

Many other South American coffees contain more caffeine than French roast or Colombian coffees, but they will both give you a moderate energy boost.

Roast Levels – How Do They Compare?

The main difference between Colombian coffee and French roast coffee is the roast level.

Colombian coffee is typically medium-roasted. This preserves the natural fruity and citrus flavors from the Colombian coffee beans and gives the medium roast coffee a balanced flavor.

Some Colombian coffee brands will offer medium-dark roasts, but you’ll rarely see Colombian light-roast coffee.

French roast coffee is the darkest coffee roasting you can get, with the coffee beans roasted in large batches for over 15 minutes.

This brings out the natural coffee oils but removes some unique regional flavors.

This means that French roasts have deep flavors and less flowery flavor than you get from lighter roasts.

French roast coffees are best for those who enjoy bold, intense brews. If you like lighter, mellow coffees, you’ll prefer Colombian.

Certifications – Is There a Winner?

Colombian coffee is graded by size. The larger the Colombian coffee bean, the more time it has had to grow and develop a rich flavor.

The largest and highest quality Colombian coffee beans are the Supremo, and the smallest is the Excelso. Exported Colombian coffee tends to be Supremo.

French roasted coffees can come from any coffee beans, so there's no single standard.

However, the Specialty Coffee Association has a color classification system for skinless coffee beans, grading the darkest (scoring 25) to lightest coffees (scoring 95).[4]

The coffee should be around 28-35 to be truly French roast. To put that in perspective, Italian roast is slightly darker (26-30), and espresso roast is slightly lighter (30-36).

Price For Consumers?

French roast coffee is almost always cheaper than Colombian coffee.

The price for French roast coffee will vary depending on the type of coffee beans, the quality, and the country of origin.

However, the long roasting period means that many of the natural coffee flavors are burnt off during the roasting process.

That means you can use lower quality, cheaper coffee beans, and their average price is lower.

Colombian coffee is more expensive because Colombian beans take more effort to grow.

The 100% Arabica coffee beans need specific conditions to thrive, requiring more resources.

Plus, only the very best Colombian coffee beans are exported, so buying Colombian coffee will cost more.

Basically, you pay more for a Colombian coffee blend because it’s higher quality than most other coffee.


All About French Roast Coffee!

French roast is not French coffee, it’s a roasting level.

The coffee beans are exposed to high temperatures for longer (usually 15-30 minutes), surfacing the oils to give a darker look and deeper taste. It’s bold, robust, and chocolatey.

It’s not French coffee, but it did originate in France during the 19th Century - so it's a relatively new coffee blend.

A few coffee professionals took dark roast a step further and it rapidly became popular.

French roast coffee a popular choice with many coffee drinkers because:

  • It’s darker than standard coffee with a unique charred and smokey flavor
  • It doesn’t have a bitter flavor (unlike other dark roasts)
  • It has low acidity
  • It’s versatile - working for drip coffee, French press, or intense espresso shots.

All About Colombian Coffee!

Colombian coffee is coffee grown exclusively in Colombia (unlike French roast coffees which are a specific roast).

It dates back to the 17th Century when Spanish settlers and Jesuit priests brought Arabica coffee trees into the country.

Colombian coffee is now regarded as some of the best in the world, and Colombia is the 3rd largest coffee-producing country.

Colombian coffee is special because:

  • The climate, altitude, and volcanic soil create rich coffee flavors.
  • The coffee cherries and coffee bean’s processing enhances the coffee taste.
  • Single-origin Colombian coffee is mellow, sweet, medium bodied, with chocolate notes, nutty flavors, and a caramel sweetness.
  • It’s easy to drink and suitable for a variety of different brewing methods.

Related French Roast Vs Colombian Coffee Questions

How does Colombian coffee compare to Classic roast?

Classic roast coffee is almost always a medium roast regular coffee. Colombian coffee is medium-roasted, but is typically smoother, less harsh, and has a mild taste compared to classic roast.

Is French roast stronger than Colombian coffee?

French roast coffee tastes stronger than Colombian coffee. However, Colombian coffee and French roast contain about the same amount of caffeine.


So, Which One Should You Try?

Colombian coffee and French roast coffee are very different.

French roast is a specific roast level, but the coffee beans can come from anywhere. French roast coffee is dark, smokey, and bold but doesn't have the bitter flavors other dark roasts have.

I recommend it for those who like strong coffee flavors.

Colombian coffee is coffee grown and processed in Colombia. It’s mild, mellow, smooth and easy to drink.

I recommend it for casual coffee drinkers, but many experienced coffee lovers will also enjoy the distinct flavor of a Colombian roast.

Hopefully, this guide has helped to explain the differences between Colombian coffee and French roast, and you now know which is best for you.

References:

  1. https://www.sciencealert.com/coffee-smells-are-enough-to-perk-up-the-brain
  2. https://greentumble.com/is-volcanic-activity-beneficial-for-the-earth
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/light-vs-dark-roast-coffee
  4. https://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+roast+color+classification+system%3A+technology+designed+to+advance...-a017294443 

Chloe Page

Author

Chloe Page
A lifelong mocha fan, Chloe is an award-winning writer with over eight years’ experience weaving words. Her journey in the coffee industry is highlighted by extensive research and interviews with coffee experts. In her moments of relaxation, you'll often find her sipping on Bird and Blend tea, thoughtfully scribbling in her notebook.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... Bird and Blend Co Tea

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