Full City vs City Coffee: The Art and Science of Coffee Roasting

Mar 12, 2024 • Amélie Bigras

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Coffee is more than just a morning ritual or an afternoon pick-me-up; it's an intricate world of flavors, aromas, and techniques. For many, it’s an ongoing journey of discovery. And if you've ever been puzzled by the terminology on a bag of beans, you're not alone. "Full City Coffee" and "City Coffee" might sound like locations rather than roast descriptions, but these terms reveal a lot about the bean’s journey from a raw green seed to the aromatic brown bean we grind and brew.

Behind every cup of coffee lies a careful balance of art and science, each roast representing a distinct point in the transformation of the coffee bean. The roasting process influences everything from the color of the bean to its taste and aroma.

What distinguishes the two coffees is how long it’s roasted.

When comparing Full City Coffee versus City Coffee, Full City Coffee is roasted for longer creating a sweeter flavor and robust brown flavor. Whereas City Coffee is considered a medium roast with less sweetness and lighter coloring.

These are two of the heavyweights of the coffee world

These are two of the heavyweights of the coffee world because the Full City Roast blends well with most coffee drinks while also serving well on its own. And the City Roast is easy to serve to anyone because of its balanced flavors.

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Coffee Roasting Levels

Coffee roasters immerse themselves in the intricate relationship between heat and coffee, aiming to unlock the perfect flavors hidden within each bean.

When savoring a medium to medium-dark roasted coffee like the City or Full City Roasts, you can expect sweet flavors to mix with a slight acidity leftover from the raw bean. The roasts require coffee experts to drop the beans right around the time the oils of the bean crack open and coat the exterior of the dried shell.

Coffee enthusiasts encounter an array of roasts in the market, each offering a unique taste adventure:

  • Light Roasts: This category represents the essence of raw coffee flavors, taking you on a journey through the rich profiles of White, Cinnamon, Blonde, New England, and Golden Roasts.
  • Medium Roasts: As the roasting process delves deeper, the beans transform into medium roasts. Here, the sugars undergo caramelization, while the beans reduce in size as moisture evaporates. American, City, and City+ roasts belong to this group, reaching internal temperatures between 410°F to 435°F, resulting in a balanced and nuanced flavor profile.
  • Medium-Dark Roasts: At this stage, roasters tune in for the enchanting "second crack," giving birth to Full City and Full City+ Roasts. Within the temperature range of 437°F to 454°F, these beans embody both bitter and sweet complexities, offering a delightful dance of flavors.
  • Dark Roasts: Embracing the darkness, the Vienna, French, and Italian Roasts showcase coffee beans roasted to a captivating black hue. At this level of roast, the oils within the beans escape and cloak their surface. The temperatures soar between 462°F to 474°F, resulting in a robust and intense coffee experience.

It's worth noting that while some may not favor the acidic and floral notes found in lightly roasted beans, opting for a dark roast rids the coffee of these characteristics. Darker roasts are an entirely different and equally delightful sensory experience.

Within this range, the medium-dark roasts sit in the center maintaining qualities of both light and dark roasts.

A Detailed Look at City Roast

Description of City Roast

The City Coffee sits right on the edge of medium roasts and medium-dark roasts.Roasters talk about their craft as both a science and an art, because even a few-second delay can cause a ruined roast. So reaching the medium to medium-dark roasts requires years of practice.

As a medium of roast, the surface of the bean will brown like the bark of a pine tree. And despite it being farther on the roast scale, the oil will not coat the surface of the bean yet.

Flavor Profile of City Roast

City Roasts being in the middle of the roast spectrum means they feature characteristics of both light and dark roasts. Light roasts tend to taste more acidic, like a full-bodied wine. Whereas dark roasts tend to be more bitter like dark chocolate.

Medium in color, City Coffee has both a light acidity and present bitter taste. Neither should be overpowering, which many American coffee drinkers find pleasant. Across the United States, City Roasts and Full City Roasts are very popular.

Similarly, the City Roast features some of the classic coffee mouthfeel and smells found in dark coffees, yet most consumers won’t find it overpowering.

Ideal use of City Roast

When you’re brewing a City Roast, you’re dealing with a roast that isn’t built for the classic drip coffee nor is it right for tea bags like a Golden Roast.

City Roast, straddling the boundary between medium and medium-dark, offers a unique profile that encapsulates the vibrancy of lighter roasts and the depth of darker ones. This delicate balance makes it versatile for various brewing methods. Here's how you can ideally use the City Roast:

  1. Chemex Pour-Over: A Chemex allows for a clean and bright brew, which can highlight the City Roast's balanced acidity and flavor. The thicker filter used in a Chemex ensures that the nuanced flavors of the City Roast shine through without any bitterness.
  2. V60 Pour-Over: The V60, with its spiral ridges and wide drain hole, is designed to accentuate the bright notes of a coffee. When used with a City Roast, it provides clarity to its flavors, allowing the subtle characteristics of the bean to emerge.
  3. AeroPress: The AeroPress, especially with a slightly longer brew time, can emphasize the City Roast's body while retaining its nuanced flavors. It’s a quick method that can offer a balance between the roast's light acidity and deeper tones.
  4. Automatic Drip Coffee Maker: Given the City Roast’s popularity among American coffee drinkers, it's no surprise that it performs well in an automatic drip coffee maker. This method produces a well-rounded cup, highlighting the roast’s balanced nature.
  5. Siphon (or Vacuum) Brewer: This visually dramatic brewing method is known for producing clear, vibrant coffee. It can accentuate the City Roast’s dynamic flavor profile, from its light acidity to its more profound notes.
  6. Pairing with Food: The balanced profile of City Roast makes it a great companion for a range of foods. For breakfast, pair it with almond croissants or buttered toast. For dessert, its nuanced flavors complement fruity pastries, light cakes, and even certain cheeses.
  7. Cold Brew: While City Roast might not be as bold as darker roasts, it can still produce a delightful cold brew. The resulting coffee will have a smooth texture with a refreshing brightness, making it perfect for warmer days.

In essence, the City Roast is a celebration of balance in the coffee world. Its position on the roast spectrum ensures that it's adaptable to various brewing methods, each unveiling a different facet of its character. Experiment with different techniques to find your personal favorite way to enjoy this versatile roast.

Detailed Look at Full City Roast

Description of Full City Roast

The Full City Coffee is the sole roast in the medium-dark roast category. Other roast categories have multiple roast types to fill the space — like the Vienna, French, and Italian Roasts in dark roasts.

Part of the reason this roast occupies such a large space is because it’s received such high demand. The oil inside the bean has burst from inside after the first crack leading it with a light spritz of oil on the surface of the bean.

Flavor Profile of Full City Roast

As a medium-dark roast, the Full City Roast has more coffee flavor than the City Roast. You’ll find the acidity mostly gone from the Full City Roast, and a stronger classic dark-chocolate flavor entering the cup. The floral flavors have been roasted out, leaving the classic coffee aroma with a heavier body than the City Roast.

And yet, with the loss of florals and acidity, the sugars inside the bean have begun to caramelize. This provides a sweet flavor that can be hard to capture in dark roasts.

Ideal use of Full City Roast

The star of Full City Coffee is the mix of sweet and bitter flavors, creating an enticing flavor profile. The Full City Roast, nestled beautifully in the medium-dark category, is celebrated for its rich, bold flavors and slightly glossy appearance, a result of the bean oils surfacing post the first crack during roasting. Understanding how to best brew and enjoy this roast will help you extract its full potential. Here’s how you can ideally use the Full City Roast:

  1. Espresso Brewing: The Full City Roast shines when brewed as espresso. Its depth of flavor combined with a light oiliness makes a velvety shot of espresso. The inherent sweetness and full body of the bean stand up well against the high pressure of espresso machines, producing a shot with a creamy mouthfeel and rich crema on top.
  2. Milk-Based Coffee: The caramelized sweetness and robust flavors of Full City Roast complement milk beautifully. It’s ideal for cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas. The roasted undertones mingle seamlessly with the creaminess of the milk, creating a harmonious blend.
  3. French Press: The French press, or press pot, is another method that’s perfectly suited for Full City Roasts. The immersion brewing allows the water to fully interact with the coffee grounds, extracting the nuanced flavors of the bean. This method accentuates the coffee's full-bodied texture and layered flavor profile.
  4. AeroPress: This compact brewer is versatile and can make a bold, espresso-like coffee with Full City Roast. Using a fine grind and a short steep time, the AeroPress can emphasize the roast's sweet and bold characteristics.
  5. Pairing with Food: The boldness of Full City Roast makes it an excellent coffee to pair with breakfast items like coffee cake, pastries, or even savory dishes like bacon and eggs. For dessert, consider pairing it with rich chocolate cake or brownies. The roast's inherent sweetness will dance beautifully with the flavors of the dessert.
  6. Cold Brew: Given its bold flavors and low acidity, the Full City Roast can also be utilized for cold brew coffee. The prolonged steeping time in cold water extracts a smooth, chocolatey, and slightly sweet flavor, making for a refreshing and robust cold beverage.
Cup of medium roast coffee

Comparing City Roast to Full City Roast

When reviewing the differences and similarities between City Coffee and Full City Coffee, you’ll find a lot in each category. The City Roast is so close to the medium-dark Full City in terms of its roast profile that they might as well be cousins.

A cup of City Coffee tastes balanced between acidity and bitterness and floral and sweet, meaning there’s truly nothing like it. However, a Full City Roast leans slightly farther to the bitter-and-sweet side, creating a perfect balance of the two flavor profiles that no one can ignore.

I recommend saving your City Roast for a pour-over and using an espresso or French Press for your Full City Roast. Both will allow the flavors to come into their own.


Comparing City Coffee versus Full City Coffee provides insight into the artistry of coffee and what it takes to roast in the industry.

From the balanced flavors of a City Roast to the dark chocolatey yet sweet flavors of the Full City Roast, there are so many ways to enjoy your coffee cup. And knowing more about it can help you appreciate the work that went into your cup of coffee.

So get out there and get drinking! Your next cup of coffee’s waiting.


Amélie has a dual Bachelor of Biological Sciences and Literature. She wrote a Master's Thesis on the importance of blending scientific knowledge with the arts to create a healthier culture. She also has a Bachelor of Education and has been teaching Biology and Language Arts since 2016. She is happily addicted to coffee and constantly learning.

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