Recently I've been given (as a gift) a large (40 oz ~ 1.13kg) bag of Starbucks French Roast coffee.
To me it looks, smells and tastes like a burnt coffee.
I usually brew coffee in a moka-pot, french press or paper filter.
I do enjoy darker roasted, Italian espresso, but this French Roast is just too much.

How do I brew it, to get rid of these unpleasant flavors and aromas, so I can enjoy it and not throw away 1kg of coffee?

Starbucks French Roast


4 Answers 4


Starbucks' dark roasts are very dark. It tastes like ash because it contains ash. There's no way around that.

That said, you can minimize the ashy notes in your brew by using the below suggestions:

  • Lower the brew temperature--cold brew in particular works well for this purpose

  • Use a coarser grind setting when grinding

  • If using a hot brew method, reduce the time you let the coffee brew

Use just the first or some combination of all three. It'll take experimentation to get it right.

  • Yeah it sounds like OP's "problem" is with the specific coffee he has, not french roasting in general. Just wanted to note so it doesn't put others off trying a french press.
    – BruceWayne
    May 22, 2021 at 14:29

I use a French press. I never really got on with them before - the coffee always tasted burnt. Then I found out about not using very hot water and scalding the grounds.

I now put some warm tapwater in the pot first, put the coffee in, and stir it a bit until the grounds are mixed in and not just floating on the top. If you're only making for yourself, you can also add an appropriate amount of sugar too, and stir that until it's dissolved - saves time sugaring each cup individually. Then I add the boiled water from the kettle.

The grounds are now floating in cooler water. The boiled water just brings them up to temperature, but they don't get scalded. Your coffee will taste better for not getting too hot.

Of course you could just not get the kettle so hot in the first place, but most of us don't have kettles that'll let us dial in 80 degrees instead of boiling.


Former world barista champion James Hoffman actually looked at this question in his YouTube video entitled How To Brew Better Dark Roasts. A summary of tips regarding dark roasts used for non-espresso brewing methods:

  • Freshness is more important because the beans are more porous. He recommends using the beans within 2-3 weeks of roasting.

  • Use a paper filter (instead of a French press) to reduce bitterness. The idea is that the paper filter removes more tiny particles which contribute to bitterness.

  • Grind coarser to extract less. Make up for that by using a higher bean to water ratio, the video recommends 70 grams of beans per liter of water.

  • Remove the fines after grinding. Because darker roasted beans are more brittle, grinding will produce more fines. By removing those fines, for example using the paper towel trick explained in another of James's videos, the resulting cup will be less bitter.

  • Lower the brew temperature, the video recommends 80-85 degrees Celsius. To add extra complexion, you may want to use boiling water just for the bloom and continue with the lower temperature water for the remainder of the extraction.

That being said, you will never get a complex or rounded cup from something as dark as that. All you can do is minimise the bitterness.

  • Funny thing, I watch James’ channel regularly and after the video you have mentioned, I decided to look for solution to my Starbucks problem ;) May 24, 2021 at 4:21

Both R Mac & JJJ are bang on. Grind a bit courser & lower the temp of the water. Easiest way is not to let the kettle boil or if it does add a touch of cold water to the kettle after boiling. Use filtered water if possible. I think Starbucks dark roasts are aimed at coffee drinkers who want a latte or cappuccino but taste the coffee through all the milk/oat based drink. enter image description here Using a french press I’d suggest using 18g per every 2 cup(or a 3-cup Cafetiere)so 56g for an 8-cup. I stir the grounds(not everyone does)replace the lid & filter so the filter sits just under the surface & wait til the grounds rise to the top-ready!.

If none of these fix the problem try using little less coffee.

Also James Hoffmans’ YouTube channel is great for coffee & brewing tips & info. Least you’ve learnt not to buy starbucks in future😧

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