The difference between espresso and standard brewed coffee has more to do with the preparation method more than anything else. It’s about how you prepare the beans themselves. Generally, labeling beans as “espresso” hints at darker roasted coffee.
A coffee bean is used in reference to any bean that has been roasted and readied for coffee brewing. The darker the roast your beans are, the stronger the coffee flavor and lighter the beans roast, the more caffeine you get per scoop of coffee.
Generally, coffee beans are broken up into four main categories depending on how long they have been roasted. These are light, medium, medium-dark, and dark roasted. When beans get roasted for longer periods, they tend to become darker in color.
Generally, coffee beans meant for making espresso are roasted for longer periods compared to those for standard drip coffee. Additionally, espresso beans are ground on the finer side, more like fine sand than gravel. Usually, espresso beans belong to the dark coffee roast class. This is the stage in which they offer fuller body and the least acidity, yet they still give slight hints of the rich bean flavor.
When beans are put under pressure like they do while preparing espresso, their flavor profile will become more intense. In efforts at creating a consistent flavor profile, bean roasters like using a darker roast that produces caramelized, smoky sugar notes, like you see in Italian roasts. Such espresso beans give your coffee the consistency, flavor, and body you want in your cup of Joe.
The Distinct Brewing Processes
Brewed coffee and espresso represent two distinct ways of preparing coffee, which has dramatic effects on how that coffee will taste. The difference between these two types of coffee is marked by how they are made.
The distinct preparation methods are what will dictate the flavor of your coffee more so than the actual beans. However, the usage of the right category of beans can make the difference whether you get an OK cup of coffee and something truly extraordinary or a bland drink.
Many people mistake espresso as being different because of the difference in taste, texture, and caffeinated but the difference actually lies in the process of preparation which it goes through. The comparatively higher caffeine-per-ounce amount in espresso is slightly different from the one used in making drip coffee. It brings out a stronger flavor.
Technically, it’s possible to use espresso-roasted coffee beans to make standard drip coffee and beans that are dark roasted to prepare espresso if you use the right gear and the beans are ground correctly.
So, Is There a Difference?
Labeling coffee beans as drip or espresso is really nothing more than a roaster’s recommendation on how to best bring out the desired flavor of your cup of coffee. The truth is that there’s no fundamental difference between coffee and espresso beans. Coffee beans come from the coffee tree, although there are several varieties, depending on your country.
Coffee making depends on your personal preference and taste. Nonetheless, the taste of your cup of Joe will depend on how you use the beans and it can vary if you use light, medium or very dark roasted coffee beans.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.