Regular coffee drinkers know that coffee beans and espresso beans are the same but also different. There’s a common misconception among people that espresso is a type of bean, but it’s just coffee beans with specific grind sizes and brewing methods.
Knowing these two differences can be overwhelming, especially for casual coffee drinkers just starting their brewing journey. Here we will differentiate between coffee beans and espresso beans to make things easier to understand.
What is a Coffee Bean?
Before we discuss the difference and similarities between the two, let us first define a coffee bean.
A coffee bean is any bean that has been roasted and prepared for brewing. Coffee beans come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and kinds depending on the region where they are grown. But perhaps the common ones used among coffee drinkers and coffee shops are from the family of Arabica and Robusta.
For a quick background, Arabica coffee is harvested from Coffea Arabica and is the world’s most popular type of coffee, making up to 60% or more of global coffee production. It has a slightly sweet flavor with hints of chocolate, nuts, and caramel. There are also slight hints of fruit and berries, with slight acidity and bitter taste.
Meanwhile, Robusta beans is harvested from the Coffea canephora plant, which makes up 40% of the world’s coffee production. Compared to Arabica, it has more caffeine and less sugar. It tastes earthy and has a bitter, grain-like flavor with a peanut-ty aftertaste. (Read Standard Coffee Cup Sizes)
What is an Espresso Bean?
So, are espresso beans different from coffee beans? The short answer is no. Espresso beans are dark-roasted coffee beans that have stayed on the roasting machine for longer and at a higher temperature. Espresso beans can also be ground finer and brewed in an espresso machine or an aero press.
In coffee, there is also an espresso or a shot of concentrated coffee made by forcing hot water at high pressure through finely-ground coffee beans. We’ll discuss it more below.
But when making espresso, there isn’t a specific rule on what kind of beans you should use. For instance, Arabica is for those who prefer sweeter espresso shots, while Robusta is perfect for those who want to achieve more crema. No matter what coffee beans you choose, it’s more about looking at their quality and freshness because the best espresso is made with freshly roasted coffee beans. When buying one, make sure that it’s freshly roasted and stored adequately because no matter how recent the roast date is, when it’s not stored well, it can make the coffee beans stale.
Are Coffee Beans and Espresso Beans the Same?
Yes, they are the same thing, but things differentiate them, such as their roast, grind, taste, caffeine content, richness in natural oil, and brewing method. Let us try to look at them one by one:
For those unfamiliar, coffee roasts range from light golden brown to dark and are almost black in appearance. While they may have different levels, they are often grouped into three categories, which are light, medium, and dark roasts.
Ordinary coffee usually falls in the light and medium categories, while espresso falls in the dark roast beans. Light roasts usually provide creamy and delicate flavors and are typically the most acidic among the three. On the other hand, medium roast beans have a chocolate brown and are full of taste. They generally are less acidic and slightly sweet and toasty in flavor.
Meanwhile, dark roasted beans are strong and smoky and have low acidity. They also often have a bitter taste and are usually overpowered by the roasted flavor. (Learn How Much Cream And Sugar To Put In Coffee)
Compared to typical coffee beans, espresso grind is finer, about the size of granulated sugar. Fine grind coffee is the standard size for pre-ground coffee, which is used when making espresso or an AeroPress with about one to two-minute brew time.
Meanwhile, regular coffee beans can range from the extra coarse grind, coarse grind, and medium grind. Extra coarse, which is about the size of rock salt, is best for cold brew coffee, while coarse grind, which is about the size of sea salt, is ideal for French press coffee. Those who have drip coffee makers in their homes can opt for the medium grind, which is about the size of regular beach sand.
The most popular brewing methods for regular coffee beans include French press, coffee drip, and percolation. Anyone can easily do them as long as they have a French press or coffee maker, and they are not as complicated as making espresso.
On the other hand, you need either an espresso machine or an AeroPress when making an espresso since it requires a specific brewing process that a regular coffee machine cannot make. It needs high pressure for the extraction process to create a highly concentrated shot of coffee.
Richness in Natural Oil
One thing that easily separates ordinary coffee from espresso is the crema it produces when brewing. Coffee produces crema through the emulsification of natural oils with other compounds. When you look at an espresso bean, you can see an oily sheen, proving it is rich in natural oils.
On the other hand, regular coffee doesn’t have the same shine, which means it’s lacking in natural oils. You will also see this when you create a coffee that doesn’t make the same crema as espresso.
People often assume that espresso has more caffeine than regular coffee, but it depends on the serving. For instance, an average cup of drip coffee (8 oz.) has more caffeine content than a shot of espresso. However, most espresso coffees come with two espresso shots, which have more caffeine content than a drip of coffee.
Regarding taste, espresso has a toasty, well-rounded, and full-bodied flavor than regular coffee since it’s often created with dark roast coffee beans. It is also bolder and less acidic while remaining stronger than a regular cup. Regular coffee beans are your best friend if you’re after a lighter and more subtle taste.
What is Espresso?
Originating from Italy, espresso is a full-flavored, concentrated coffee served in shots. Often called an espresso shot, it is frequently taken fresh out of the machine and sipped slowly. This way, you can enjoy its full, rich flavor when you drink it. Most people want double shots to make the most out of its caffeine rush, but some prefer to add sugar or sweetener to tone down its taste.
Espresso shots are also commonly used to make several drinks as a base in coffee shops, such as cafe americano, cafe latte, cafe mocha, and cappuccino.
Making Regular Coffee Using Espresso Beans: Is it Possible?
Yes, it is! Since there is no difference between espresso and coffee beans, you can use your espresso beans when making ordinary coffee. Many people use their espresso coffee beans for their daily dose of coffee, even without an espresso machine. Grind your espresso beans like you do on your regular coffee and add boiled water to them.
Can you use your coffee beans to make an espresso? Of course, you can, as long as you have an espresso machine or an AeroPress! If you only have a light or medium roast of coffee in your pantry, you can still turn it into an espresso, although it won’t taste as strong and rich as the dark or espresso roast. The key here is to make sure that you grind your coffee beans fine so you’ll achieve the right consistency when making an espresso shot. (Learn How Much Creamer In Coffee)
Frequently Asked Questions
Still, have unanswered questions? These pieces of information might help:
Is there a difference between coffee beans and espresso beans?
No, there is no difference between coffee beans and espresso beans. Their only difference is that espresso beans are roasted more, grounded finer, and brewed in an espresso machine.
What is the difference between espresso and Americano?
An Americano is a type of drink that contains an espresso. Often referred to as Caffè Americano (or long black), it is simply an espresso diluted in water.
What is the difference between espresso and cappuccino?
Like Americano, cappuccino is also a type of drink that has espresso. The difference is that cappuccino is mixed with milk and topped with steamed milk foam. Some coffee shops and drinkers also top their drinks with cinnamon, cocoa powder, or mocha powder to make their drinks even more delicious.
Espresso Beans vs. Coffee Beans: Final Thoughts
In summary, the difference between coffee and espresso is not about their beans but the way it’s prepared. It’s slightly more complicated to prepare espresso than coffee because it requires a specific roast, grind, and process to make the perfect espresso shot. If you’re a casual coffee drinker exploring the world of coffee, we hope this guide helps!