Going through the coffee aisle, you might see some bags are labelled as espresso or drip blends. That gets you thinking: “What’s the difference between coffee beans and espresso beans?” The truth is, there’s no difference between coffee beans and espresso beans. A coffee bean is a coffee bean. So, why are bags marked differently? As it turns out, it's the brewing method.
Marking beans as espresso or drip is nothing more than a suggestion from the manufacturer on how to bring out the taste of the beans. Of course, there are different roasts and coffee beans—two types actually, Arabica and Robusta, as well as varietals bred from these types—but each is still a coffee bean that can be used in different ways.
Espresso Beans vs. Coffee Beans
Although there is not much difference between espresso beans and coffee beans, there are still some differences in terms of the brewing method, caffeine content, flavor and roasting. Here is a table of comparison between espresso and coffee beans:
Depending on the brew, a cup of coffee has 80-185 mg of caffeine for every 8oz serving. Per ounce, coffee has less caffeine compared to coffee with only 8-15 mg per ounce.
However, a single serving of coffee has more caffeine than a single serving of espresso.
A 2oz serving of espresso has 60-100 mg of caffeine. Per ounce, espresso has more caffeine compared to coffee with 30-50 mg per ounce. Espresso is usually drunk in a serving size of 2 oz or less.
In order to be made into coffee, a whole coffee bean must be ground. Most ground coffee is brewed using a home coffee maker. In automatic drip systems, the beans are ground to a medium coarseness.
Hot water drips onto the ground coffee and extracts its essence through a filter. The coffee grounds are thrown after using them.
Espresso is a different brewing method. Very hot water under pressure is forced through finely-ground, compacted coffee for 20 to 30 seconds.
The effect is a drink that is thicker than ordinary coffee. Moreover, froth is formed on top of the coffee which is called crema.
They refer to any bean roasted and readied for brewing. You can opt for a light roast if you wish the complete taste of the bean, which can be different depending on its origin.
Light-roasted beans do not have an oily sheen, and are ideal for mild-flavored types. Medium roasted beans will have a stronger taste, and can be differentiated by its medium-brown color. Dark roasted beans stand out for their dark brown color and shiny, oily surface.
They typically are classified in the dark roast category because this is the phase where the beans provide the least acidity with a fuller body. You will still receive small amounts of bean taste.
Espresso beans provide consistency, body and flavor you look for in a shot. They usually a rich, creamy taste which enhances your shot experience. Espresso beans are better in terms of high-pressure methods of brewing.
Beans used in making coffee are roasted for a time at a specific temperature. After roasting, they are given a coarse grind.
Espresso beans need a longer roasting time and a higher temperature around 450 degrees. The longer time and higher temperature allows for the release of oil inside the beans.
How To Grind Espresso Beans
Grinding espresso beans is a piece of cake. Here are the steps on how to grind your own espresso beans:
Step 1: Try different varieties of espresso bean
Espresso beans are roasted especially for use in espressos, and will likely come out with better effects than regular coffee beans. While there are different types and blends of espresso bean, the most basic difference is between the lighter Arabica and darker Robusta. While espresso is more intense and darker than ordinary coffee, this does not mean it should use blends as high in Robusta beans. A blend with as low as 10-15% Robusta will give out a dark, "biting" espresso without extra, possibly awful tastes from overuse.
Step 2: Store beans in a cool, dry place
Look for a dark place at the back of your cupboard or pantry, not the refrigerator where it can get some food smells and moisture. Use any container with an airtight, watertight seal. Even when stored this way, beans can lose quality quickly after one or two weeks.
Freezing may or may not affect the taste of espresso beans. Opening the container of frozen beans, however, leads to unhealthy moisture to condense on the beans. Separate the espresso beans into different containers to reduce the number of times each one is opened. Pack tightly to let out most of the air.
Step 3: Grind beans immediately before you make the espresso
Espresso will stay freshest as whole beans, not grounds. Try to use up all your grounds within a couple of days after they are ground for best results.
Step 4: Grind a few beans first when switching coffee blends
If you are switching to a new coffee beans or blend and desire to have a pure taste, put a few beans through the grinder first to take out most of the coffee grit from the last beans you used. You can use this for espresso if you don't care about a mixed cup, or just throw it in the compost or trash.
There is no difference between coffee beans and espresso beans. When specialty roasters write “espresso blend” or “drip blend,” it’s just the brew method roaster's belief will make the flavor profile really shine. Coffee is a matter of personal taste and preference—you make coffee the way you prefer it. So did you enjoy reading my article? I would love to hear your stories about espresso and coffee beans. Do share them in the comments section below and like our Facebook page.