Oswald McWeany opined:
Matter of taste. "burnt" is just a darker roast that is preferred in most of the world.
Sorry, but you're wrong.
Back in the 1990's, on vacation in the Big Island of Hawaii, my wife and I got caught in a genuinely torrential downpour while driving on a narrow, two-lane road on the Kona coast. Rain so intense that I literally couldn't see more than five feet beyond the hood of our rental car. Scary, actual, given the winding road. So I pulled off into the first space we saw (at about 5 MPH) - which turned out to be the Kona Coffee Growers Co-op's storefront/roasting facility. After ten minutes of sitting in the downpour, with the windshield fogging over, I said, "The Hell with this,", and we made a dash from the car to the front door of the Co-op.
Inside the store, it turned out they had a little museum exhibit, with displays on growing and processing, along with plenty of merchandise. And coffee, of course. We browsed the museum and checked out the merch, and, pretty soon, we'd exhausted the entertainment potential of the place, while, outside, the rain continued to hammer down relentlessly. So, out of boredom as much as curiosity, I asked at the counter if the Co-op's roastmaster was available to chat. As it turned out, he was.
Nice guy. Friendly, intelligent, and, as you might expect, tremendously knowledgeable about all aspects of coffee production. We chatted about growing conditions and the rarity of what's called "peabody beans" (double-centered coffee beans that produce especially smooth and flavorful coffee, and which are around twice the price of the already quite pricey regular Kona stuff) how the coffee *quot;cherries" are fermented, lightly mashed, and the fruit is separated from the pit of the cherry (the pits being what we call coffee beans), dried, then roasted. All quite interesting. Eventually, the subject got around to varous roasts, and I mentioned to him that French roast had always tasted burnt to me.
"That's because it is,quot; he responded. "The difference between medium and dark roast is only 17 seconds in the roaster, but, in that 17 seconds, the outer skin of the bean actually begins to carbonize. The longer it stays in the roaster from there, the more the skin burns, and the darker the roast becomes." He also told me that he, personally, preferred a medium roast - and that a light roast, while it produces fairly weak-flavored coffee, retains considerably more caffeine than darker roasts. (The darker the roast, the less caffeine in the brew.) Thus, the lighter the roast, the bigger the kick.
So, no. I'm sorry, but you're wrong. Dark roasted coffee is produced by actually, physicallly burning the skin of the coffee bean. roast (Starbucks' default roast) is produced by allowing the beans to remain in the roaster until the skin burns away and the outside of the inner bean itself carbonizes.
In other words, the characteristic taste of French roast is due to the fact that the beans it's made from are half charcoal.