If you love coffee but can’t seem to decide between espresso beans and coffee beans, you’re not alone. The two types of coffee beans have their own unique properties that can make them more suitable for different tastes and brewing methods. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between espresso and coffee beans, so you can choose the perfect bean for your next cup.
One significant difference between espresso beans and coffee beans is the roast level. Generally, espresso beans are darker roasted than coffee beans to create a stronger flavor. This deeper roast gives the espresso a more robust flavor that stands up well to the higher water pressure used in an espresso machine. On the other hand, coffee beans are usually lighter roasted than espresso beans to capture the flavorful nuances of each batch of beans. Lighter roasting also means that coffee contains more caffeine than espresso does.
Not only are the roast levels different between espresso and coffee beans, but the grind is different too. Espresso beans must be ground very finely to extract the full flavor, whereas coffee beans can be either coarsely or finely ground depending on the type of coffeemaker used. Also, when making espresso from espresso beans, more carefully controlled water pressure and temperature are used compared to that for regular coffee made from coffee beans. This results in a stronger cup of espresso that has a richer flavor and higher caffeine content than typical brewed coffees.
The size of the grind is another difference between espresso beans and coffee beans. Espresso requires a very finely ground, almost powder-like consistency. This fine grind helps to create the crema (the golden-brown foam on top of the espresso) that is a hallmark of this type of beverage. In contrast, coffee beans are usually ground more coarsely because boiling water rather than high pressure water is used in its preparation. By grinding them more coarsely, the size of the grounds will extract flavor while also avoiding over-extraction — which occurs when too much flavor from the beans is pulled out due to a too-fine grind size.
Since espresso beans are ground more finely, they will also be slightly darker in color and richer in flavor than regular coffee beans. The intense pressure of the steam also causes a sweeter taste from the oils present in the beans, whereas with traditional brewing methods less fat is extracted due to the lower pressure. Espresso beans will also tend to cost more than traditional coffee beans given their high demand and the intricate process involved in producing them.
Espresso and coffee are made using the same type of beans, but due to different brewing processes, they have very distinct taste profiles. Espresso is known to have a strong and intense flavour, while coffee is typically mellower and sweeter. The key factor that affects the flavour of espresso is its pressure extraction process, which causes more flavor components to be extracted from the beans. Coffee is usually brewed at lower temperatures with boiling water; this creates a more mild cup of java. Both types of bean can produce an excellent cup of coffee if done correctly; what’s important is finding the right grind size for your brewing method in order to achieve optimal results.
Other differences between espresso and coffee beans include the roast level. Espresso beans are usually roasted to a darker level than coffee beans, as this helps to intensify the flavour and create crema, a light and creamy foam that sits on top of the espresso shots and is produced by the pressurized extraction process. Coffee, on the other hand, is typically roasted to a medium or light roast so as not to overpower its flavour; therefore creating a lighter brew. Overall, both types of beans bring something unique to your daily cup, whether it’s an expertly crafted espresso shot or a deep bodied cup from freshly ground coffee.
The crucial factor that determines the character of both coffee and espresso is the brewing technique applied. Espresso is made with an electric pump-driven machine that forces very hot water across very finely ground beans at high pressure, extracting all of the flavor elements within a few seconds. Coffee, on the other hand, is brewed with just hot water used to drip slowly through coarsely ground beans over a larger time frame. The end result may be a very different beverage; espresso has been described as having intense and bold notes, while coffee lingers longer on subtle sweet and acidic tastes.
But it’s not just the brewing technique that creates this difference. The two types of beans also part ways when it comes to the actual variety of bean used. As a general rule, espresso is brewed using higher quality and harder to find varieties. This is because for a great espresso shot you need an intense flavor that can stand up to the pressure of an espresso machine, something most coffee beans cannot provide. Coffee beans on the other hand come in all shapes, sizes, flavor profiles and origins, meaning there are far more options available for those wanting to brew their java at home.
Origin of the Coffee Beans
Espresso and coffee beans may look alike, but the two are actually quite different when it comes to their respective origins. Espresso is made from blends of Arabica and Robusta beans, which hail from South America as well as Central and East Asia. On the other hand, traditional coffee is generally only made of Arabica beans grown in Central and Latin America. Despite the difference in origin, when skilled baristas pair the right espresso blend with the finest grind setting attainable, espresso can boast complex flavors akin to those of gourmet coffee.
That said, just because a bean is of Arabica variety does not necessarily mean it will be up to the task of making an outstanding espresso blend. Generally speaking, a blend designed for espresso should have the right balance of flavor notes and aromas to ensure a balanced, yet intense, cup. It also needs to bring out maximum body and crema, which is the creamy layer of foam atop an espresso shot that gives it its iconic look. Coffee blends used for drip coffee generally lack the attributes necessary for producing this creamy layer, so they don’t make good espresso options.