Espresso Beans Vs Coffee Beans – What’s The Difference?

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To make some great coffee at home, you should buy some good-quality coffee beans. Shopping for the right coffee beans to use at home can get a bit confusing when you see all of the different options online or in the grocery store.

Understanding the basics of coffee beans will definitely help you pick the right one for you to use to make a delicious brew at home. A good place to start is to know the difference between espresso beans and coffee beans.

So, what is the difference between espresso beans and coffee beans? The main difference between coffee beans and espresso beans is the way the beans are roasted and prepared. The two are made using the same type of beans, but the ways they are prepared and roasted makes espresso beans darker and richer, and coffee beans lighter and not as strong.

So, to help you pick out the perfect coffee beans to use at home, and to know a little bit more about the different beans available, keep reading to find out the differences between espresso beans and coffee beans!

The Difference Between Espresso Beans And Coffee Beans

Coffee beans and espresso beans are actually both made from the same beans—either Robusta or Arabica.

They might produce very different types of brews, but this is due to the way that the beans are roasted, and not the type of beans themselves.

Espresso beans are roasted to be darker and stronger, so making a short shot of espresso is quicker and easier.

Coffee beans are milder and lighter, allowing you to brew a palatable cup of coffee that isn’t too strong in one sip.

So while there is a big difference in the strength and type of coffee that either produce, there is no difference in the bean used, and the same bean used to make a white coffee can be used to make a strong espresso!

Different Types Of Coffee Beans

There is a wide range of types of coffee beans that you can pick from, ranging from light-roasted and mild, to dark-roasted and very strong.

Having such a range of coffee beans to choose from means that you can pick out the strength and flavor that suits your coffee preferences best.

It also means you can make a whole host of different coffee-based drinks at home using different systems and brewing styles.

There are three types of coffee beans, light-roasted, medium-roasted, and dark-roasted, all of which will give you different resultant brews, and all of which can make different strength coffee for you to enjoy at home.

Light-Roasted Beans

Light-roasted beans don’t have the oily sheen that darker beans have, and are best used to make a mild, white coffee using non-pressure brewing systems.

These types of beans are best used for pour-over coffee or to make cold brew coffee.

Medium-Roasted Beans

Medium roasted beans can have a range of different flavor profiles, and this largely depends on the origin of the beans.

This type of bean can be used in many different brewing styles and systems and be used to create many different types of coffee-based drinks.

Dark-Roasted Beans

Dark roasted beans have a deep dark brown color, and have an oily, shiny surface. This type of bean is most commonly used to make espressos and espresso-based drinks as it produces a short shot of very strong caffeine!

The term coffee bean does encompass a range of different types of beans and brews and is the term used for any bean that has been roasted and prepared for brewing.

Understanding the difference between the various roasts does make it easier to pick the one out that you prefer.

Espresso Beans

Espresso beans can also be called coffee beans, but they are usually darker roast coffee beans that are shiny, oily, and robust in flavor.

When dark-roasted, the coffee beans have less acidity and more body, so you can achieve a strong shot of coffee in a small dose, with some flavors of the beans still present.

You will notice that espresso beans have an oily sheen to them, and they are the beans that are richest in the natural oils that coffee contains. These oils, which emulsify during brewing, help to produce the crema in espresso shots.

Espressos are made by forcing very hot water through finely-ground espresso coffee beans at very high pressure, making the most of the coffee beans without having to brew them for too long.

While you can use other types of roasted beans to make espresso, it won’t be an authentic, dark, and rich brew, and will not have the crema formed on top.

For the best espresso, you will need to use dark-roasted espresso beans, as this is the best way to produce a short shot of full, rich coffee.

Difference In Taste

There are different types of roasts you can choose from with coffee beans, whereas espresso beans are mostly dark-roasted and full-bodied.

Espresso beans are roasted, ground, and then brewed differently from coffee beans, and this gives it a bolder taste with a well-rounded and full-bodied finish, with less acidity than normal coffee.

The stronger flavor is a favorite of many, while others find it to be a little too much.

The natural oil in espresso beans also adds to the richness of an espresso, which gives it a heavier feel as well.

The taste of coffee beans will depend on the type of roast you have chosen. A light-roasted coffee bean will not have too strong of a flavor and will be fairly mild.

A medium-roasted coffee bean will have a stronger flavor, and you will be able to pick up different flavor notes quite easily.

Medium-roast coffee beans vary in flavor quite a bit, and this depends on how the bean was roasted, and more importantly, where the bean is from. The difference in taste between various medium-roast coffee beans varies greatly.

Difference In Grind

Coffee beans and espresso beans need to be ground down before they can be used to make a certain coffee-based drink.

Espresso grinds are usually much finer than any other type of coffee grind.

This is because the espresso grind needs to be tightly packed together so that water can be pushed through it at a high pressure to make the most of the flavor of the beans in a quick, short shot.

The water is in contact with espresso beans for a very short amount of time, so the finer the grind, the more flavor it will have.

Coffee beans can be ground down to different consistencies depending on the brewing method. You can either choose to grind coffee beans down at home on your own, or you can buy pre-ground beans.

These can be sold as finely ground (which would be for espresso) or medium grind, which can be used for filter coffee and other brewing methods.

Using a medium or rough grind coffee bean to make espresso just will not work, and you will be left with a weak, unappetizing shot of coffee at the end of the brew!

Difference In Brewing

There are many ways you can prepare coffee beans. You could brew them in a French Press, a percolator, or just your favorite coffee pot, and you would just need to grind the beans down to the right consistency to do so.

When it comes to espresso beans, these need to be ground down to a fine consistency, and can only be brewed using an Aeropress or an espresso machine.

This brewing method is fairly quick and you should have a small shot of espresso in a short amount of time.

Plus, while you only need an espresso machine or Aeropress to make espresso, that espresso shot can then either be enjoyed on its own or used to make a whole host of different espresso-based drinks!

Coffee beans can be used to make a wide range of coffee drinks using different brewing systems too. You can make the classic cappuccino, an Americano, a latte, or even a macchiato.

Finding the right type of coffee bean opens up the gates to making just about any coffee-based drink you could want, and you could even brew some up to make an iced coffee on a hot day.

Difference In Amount Of Caffeine

Many people think that espresso has more caffeine in the small shot than a normal cup of coffee brewed from coffee beans does. 

While espresso offers up a quick shot of caffeine that can be consumed quickly, a cup of drip coffee, for example, has similar caffeine content to a shot of espresso.

This is because of how the beans are roasted. When dark-roasted, the caffeine can be burned away, and lost, during the process.

However, light-roasted and medium-roasted beans hold onto more of this caffeine, which is not lost during the roasting process.

Espressos do have a high concentration of caffeine per ounce, having around the same amount of caffeine as one cup of drip coffee, but this is only because it is compressed into a small shot.

Can You Use Coffee Beans To Make Espresso?

Technically, you can use coffee beans to make espresso, especially when you feel like a short shot of coffee but don’t have the right espresso beans lying around.

While it is recommended for espresso beans to be used in an espresso machine or in an Aeropress, you can definitely use a medium roast instead, as long as it is ground up super fine just like espresso beans should be. 

The resultant espresso will not be as dark or taste as strong, but it will still have a good coffee flavor and it will still give you a delicious short shot of brew!

For some, this is even better than using espresso beans, as the espresso beans might produce too strong of a shot of coffee.

Medium-roast coffee beans, on the other hand, produce a shot that is easier to drink and more palatable for those who don’t enjoy coffee that’s too strong.

What Does “Espresso” Bean Mean?

It can be a little confusing understanding the difference between coffee beans and espresso beans, but basically, espresso beans are just dark-roasted coffee beans that have a stronger flavor and a more shiny, oily finish.

If a bag of coffee beans is labeled as espresso, then the brewer or roaster is recommending that you use these beans to make espresso.

If ground up fine and brewed correctly, they will create a beautiful short shot of coffee with a perfect layer of crema on top.

Buying espresso beans, you will open the bag to find dark and shiny beans that have strong aromatics and flavor.

Summary Of Differences Between Coffee Beans And Espresso Beans

So, to quickly and easily understand the differences between coffee beans and espresso beans, have a look at the summary below of the main differences:

  • Light-roasted and medium-roasted coffee beans do not have a shiny, oily sheen, and are best to make mild-flavored coffees, whereas espresso beans, which are dark-roasted beans, are oily and shiny and produce a strong flavor perfect for an espresso shot.
  • Medium-roasted coffee beans create a stronger brew and have medium-brown colors which are darker than light-roasted beans, but espresso beans have a much darker color and the oily sheen helps to produce a rich crema to make an ideal espresso.
  • Regular coffee beans, such as light-roasted or medium-roasted, can be used for a variety of brewing methods, whereas espresso beans are best used in an espresso machine or Aeropress.

Espresso Beans Vs Coffee Beans

At their base, espresso beans and coffee beans start off as the same thing, either being Robusta or Arabica beans. The difference comes in with the way the beans are roasted and then prepared for brewing.

Coffee beans can include light-roasted beans, medium-roasted beans, and dark-roasted beans, whereas espresso beans, which are coffee beans, are mostly only dark-roasted beans.

Espresso beans are darker and richer and need to be finely ground and used in an espresso machine or Aeropress. Other coffee beans can be prepared in a variety of ways and brewed differently to make a range of different coffee-based drinks.

If you want a mild, enjoyable cup of coffee, a light-roast or medium-roast bean is best, but if you are looking for a shot of strong, full-bodied coffee, espresso beans are what you are after!

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over the difference between espresso beans and coffee beans, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

Do espresso beans taste like coffee?

Espresso beans have a well-rounded, full-bodied flavor that is considerably bolder than most other coffee beans.

However, using espresso beans to make a cup of coffee will still give you that coffee flavor and taste, but just a bit stronger than other roasts.

Is espresso healthier than other types of coffee?

Shots of espresso are healthier than other types of coffee, as you would not be adding sugars and sweeteners to the espresso like you would with other coffee drinks.

Can I drink espresso every day?

Like with all things, everything needs to be done in moderation. You can enjoy a shot of espresso every day, as long as you do not overindulge.

You can enjoy the great flavor and energy that you get from a shot of espresso in the morning or evening, but don’t have too many a day!

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