Friday, October 31, 2014

Good, Not Great, Coffee Makes Starbucks French Roast A Little Pricier Than Its Quality Warrants!

The Good: Well-caffeinated, Tastes good initially
The Bad: Expensive, Watery aftertaste
The Basics: Starbucks French Roast Coffee is good, but not one of their best blends for home use, largely because some creamers can overwhelm the flavor of this coffee!

Having found a few Starbucks coffee brews from their whole bean collection that I like, I recently found myself in the market for more Starbucks coffee. As one who loves dark roasts, I decided to try the Starbucks French Roast. While this blend is good, it is not as robust as several lower-priced French Roasts and dark blends I have tried and reviewed and that made it far less of a value than it ought to have been. As a result, the French Roast became a much tougher coffee to recommend than it ought to have been.

The French Roast blend seemed to have a one-two punch on the flavor front, but the follow up to the initial full flavor was anything but satisfying. The result is a blend that feels like it is trading more on the Starbucks name than living up to a higher quality standard.


Based on the success of Starbucks, a chain of coffee shops, Starbucks began selling its coffee in supermarkets and other stores. We found the French Roast in a 40 oz. bag and that lasted a full month in my coffee-drinking household.

The French Roast Blend is a less aromatic blend that woke us up with its flavor more than its scent, as it is a caffeinated blend. This is intended to be a bold coffee and it hits that about half the time.

Ease Of Preparation

French Roast Coffee is remarkably easy to prepare, no advanced culinary degrees necessary! First, open the bag. Starbucks French Roast Coffee is vacuum sealed when first purchased, so when it is opened, the bag will likely plump up a little. As a whole bean coffee, it needs to be ground and I used my Cuisinart Supreme Grind (reviewed here!) on its finest setting to grind the beans. Once that is done, measure out one heaping tablespoon for every two cups of water in your coffee maker. French Roast Coffee is intended for automatic (drip or percolating) coffee makers. This is NOT an instant coffee. As a result, it needs to be brewed and I use a Hamilton Beach machine (reviewed here!) with a Crucial coffee permanent filter (reviewed here!).

Consult your coffee maker's instructions for how to brew the coffee. However, as far as the basics go, you'll need a coffee filter, which you put the French Roast Coffee in and then brew through your coffee maker. As long as the bag is kept closed in an airtight container, it seems to remain fresh.


The Starbucks French Roast smells, predictably, like coffee. The coffee scent is not particularly potent and not at all unpleasant. It does, however, smell invitingly like coffee.

In the mouth, the French Roast is appropriately bitter and starts with a very strong coffee flavor. This blend is a darker roast and for the first time in a long time, when I tried it, I was hit by the burst of flavor – like five concentrated cups of a weaker coffee blend – but then it finished watery. This French Roast was like a coffee suffering from multiple personality disorder; one sip was strong and forceful and by the swallow it was weak and watery.

With creamer, the coffee flavor is almost entirely sublimated to the sweetener. Despite the forcefulness of the coffee on its own, even simple creamers seem to overwhelm the coffee flavor of the Starbucks French Roast. On the plus side, creamers do seem to eliminate the watery secondary flavor of this coffee.

On its own, the Starbucks French Roast has almost no aftertaste, which is uncommon for a dark roast coffee blend. With creamer, the coffee retains a sweet aftertaste for about a minute after one is done consuming it.


This is coffee, not something that appears on the nutrition pyramid! Starbucks French Roast Coffee does not contribute anything to one's daily recommended allowance of anything. In fact, the bag does not have any ingredients, so I am forced to assume all that is in this blend is coffee beans, which would fit what it tastes like.

This is a caffeinated blend and it feels like it! This has enough caffeine to help wake one up in the morning or give them a decent mid-afternoon boost. Because it is a caffeinated coffee, it appears to not have undergone any of the chemical processes that sometimes cause complications in decaffeinated coffees.


French Roast Coffee ought to be stored sealed in its bag with the top firmly closed. Coffee is known to absorb flavors of food nearby it, so keeping the top tightly closed is highly recommended. There are different schools of thought on refrigerating open coffee and I have a very clean refrigerator with a lot of ways to segregate coffee, so I tend to come down on the side of refrigerate it. The container makes no recommendations in that regard.

After brewing, coffee grounds ought to be disposed of. These grounds may be thrown in the trash when used or put in a compost pile, if available. Coffee grounds make great compost and these grounds are no exception.


Starbucks French Roast Coffee seems like it would be a slam dunk, but the flavor does not hold. There are other blends from Starbucks that are more consistent and robust; there are other brands that produce French Roast blends with the same weakness as Starbucks and they charge less for them. That makes the French Roast an easier to pass up coffee for fans of strong coffee than it could have been.

For other Starbucks coffee reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Starbucks Espresso Roast Coffee
Starbucks Discoveries Vanilla Latte
Starbucks Via Colombia coffee


For other drink reviews, please check out my Beverage Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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