According to Dr. Ernesto Illy of Illy Coffee it is all in the technique of roasting the beans that makes an Italian Roast. Illy is the most common type of Italian Roast found in the United States.
For the true connoisseur purchasing the whole bean and grinding at home is the preferable method to brew providing a fresher tasting coffee and customization for the pot you will use be it espresso or drip. Beans can be found in specialty coffee shops and sometimes at grocery stores.
If you are concerned about serving this strong roast in the evening and staying awake no worries, it is also available in decaffeinated.
First made in the 1500’s in Italy, it exhibits the coffees found in Turkey at the time. It is a less acidic and sweeter tasting coffee than other dark roasts such as French Roast.
The longer roasting time depletes the natural caffeine sources in the beans resulting in a coffee that contains less caffeine. Italian Roast is a rich brown color with little or no oil.
Italian coffee uses Arabica coffee beans known for their full flavor and low caffeine content, Southern Italians tend to mix Robusta content in their coffee for a stronger flavor.
The method of grinding is different as well; a grinding wheel is preferred to allow a more thorough grind.
The rules of drinking Italian Coffee like the Italians do are as follows: the locals drink it standing at the bar, “caffe” is an espresso and drunk in two to three sips and coffee should not have milk in it after 11:00 a.m. Any other behavior will flag you as a tourist.
However you prefer your coffee know that Italian Roast will deliver a smooth full-bodied dark cup of sweet coffee with low acidity and lower caffeine content.