Vienna/Viennese roast coffee is a type of dark roast that is lighter than the French roast. It has a heavy body, noticeable slight bitterness, and low acidity. The beans are slightly oily and dark to dark-reddish brown in color. Some coffee lovers describe the Vienna roast as having notes of dark chocolate.
Achieving a Viennese roast during roasting is a delicate endeavor as the coffee beans are delayed in the roaster a bit longer than a medium roast and retrieved just before they develop some smoky flavors. This roast profile is in-between full city roast and French roast.
Read more about coffee roast profiles.
Similar to all types of coffee roasts, different roasteries use different parameters such as temperature to come up with their Vienna roast. A Viennese roast from one roastery can be in the medium-dark roast level whereas a Viennese roast from another roastery can be in the darker roast level.
Consequently, when buying coffee beans you are better off focusing on the characteristics of the beans rather than the name of the roast. Check the flavor profile, the acidity, the oiliness, and the origin of the beans. Some roasteries label their medium roasts as Vienna roasts which should not be the case.
Smoky notes and higher bitterness with no sweetness is characteristic of Italian and French roasts which are darker than the Vienna roast. High acidity and pronounced oiliness suggest medium and lighter roasts.
Vienna Roast vs Medium Roast
Vienna roast coffee has very little acidity, a heavy body, and the bitterness is slightly more than the sweetness. The beans are a bit shiny and oily, light-weight, and fragile.
On the other hand, a medium roast is brighter, well-rounded, and balanced in sweetness and acidity. The beans are dry with no oil, harder and denser than the Viennese roast beans.
Vienna roast is more suitable for pulling espresso whereas a medium roast suits filter coffee because it accentuates the special tastes and aroma of the coffee.
Learn more about which coffee is considered filtered.
Vienna Roast vs French Roast
Vienna roast coffee is full-bodied, less smoky, and less bitter than French roast coffee which has a thin body and pronounced smokiness. French roast coffee is more popular than Vienna roast as it is much easier to develop than the delicate Vienna roast profile.
Vienna roast coffee beans are a bit oily and less dark than the drier, nearly burnt French roast coffee beans.
They both have low acidity and are excellent for making espresso-based coffee.
What is the Best Way to Use Vienna Roast?
Vienna roast coffee has lost most of its moisture during roasting and is easy to grind to a uniform grind size. Lighter roasts such as the blonde roast require a good grinder for consistent grind size. Prolonged roasting also makes the Vienna roast more soluble hence suitable for pulling espresso.
Adding milk to Vienna roast coffee softens its bitter overtones leading to a smooth drink. Viennese roast is also a great choice for cold-brew coffee.
Read our comprehensive post about blonde roast coffee.
Vienna roast is one of the hardest roasts to make: you roast the beans to a dark level just enough to develop a little bitterness and pull them out of the roaster before they acquire the smoky flavors. This roast level is in-between the Full City plus and the French roast.
The Viennese roast is less popular than the French and Italian roasts but yields fuller-bodied coffee than the two.
When buying Viennese roast coffee, focus more on the flavor profile than the label on the bag as some roasteries wrongly refer to their medium roasts as Vienna roast.