Espresso vs. coffee is always a matter of taste, but it can be confusing picking out the right bean for either if you’re a newbie.
A little background information on espresso and regular coffee beans will help guide your selection.
Then, explore how roasting coffee beans for espresso vs. coffee alters the flavor.
Finally, choose a brewing method because your technique also changes the taste of this beverage.
Get up to date on serving methods for these coffee types and how roasting and serving methods change the caffeine content of each cup you drink.
Beans To Use
Coffee beans or berries are available in two primary variants. Either the beans are Arabica or Robusta.
There are variants of these two coffee bean plants, but they’re all related.
Also, the flavor of the Arabica or Robusta bean varies depending on the country of origin.
Elements such as soil, climate, rainfall, and more, determine the flavor of the berry.
Similarly, coffee plants grown on highlands or lowlands in different regions of the same country will differ in taste.
But people want to know the difference between espresso vs. coffee beans and how to tell them apart.
The truth is, there is no difference between the coffee beans that you use for espresso and regular coffee.
The difference in taste between espresso vs. coffee beans is in the roasting technique.
Besides roasting, coffee experts do separate the beans after harvesting.
Then, they decide which berries will be better to use for espresso and which for coffee.
You can buy any espresso coffee beans at the local store. One thing to check, though, is that the beans are as fresh as possible.
Freshness is why beans are only processed in their country of destination to ensure they are as fresh as possible once they hit supermarket stores.
Espresso beans should be under 21 days to enjoy the crema on the brew. The crema is the creamy layer you get on espresso after brewing.
This layer is the result of carbon dioxide which creates bubbles in the brewing process, and it contains its own flavor besides the taste of the espresso.
As the coffee beans age, you are less likely to get the benefits of the crema as they degrade.
But when it comes to the best espresso coffee beans, you should buy products specifically made for espresso.
Depending on your tastebuds, you can go for a dark roast with bold nuances of chocolate, maple, or caramel.
Alternatively, a milder medium-dark roast may suit your palate better.
Milder espresso roasts also have hints of strawberry, vanilla, and other flavors, but they are also smoother.
One additional element to be aware of when looking for espresso beans is to check whether they are Arabica or Robusta.
Arabica is smoother, while Robusta variants are more robust. Which espresso or coffee beans you select depends on your tastebuds.
You can use espresso beans to make regular coffee and the opposite, but this is generally not advisable.
This is because the espresso machine is designed to process the finer espresso ground coffee, while regular coffee just doesn’t taste as good in espresso due to the roasting process.
The roasting process differentiates espresso vs. coffee. Coffee experts will separate the beans after the harvest.
Some beans will be sent for processing to go into espresso blends.
Others will undergo processing to make regular filter coffee or instant coffee.
Coffee berries will also be sorted to go to manufacturers as inputs into other processed coffee beverages and foods.
But what separates an espresso from regular coffee is the roasting process.
Espresso beans go into heating machines at higher temperatures than regular coffee.
As a result, the heating period for espresso beans is also longer than your standard brew.
The result of these roasting processes means that espresso beans are darker.
In addition, their flavor is richer, more robust, and they are often more bitter than regular coffee beans.
Heating the espresso coffee beans also ensures that the bean’s oils are more pronounced, enriching the flavor of the coffee.
Extra roasting time and higher temperatures extract more flavor.
The bean’s bitterness is avoided, as is the acidity, which is more commonly found in regular coffee beans.
However, it also depends on whether the beans are Arabica or Robusta.
Arabica beans are generally regarded as higher quality than Robusta beans.
Arabica espresso is also more expensive than Robusta, whether for espresso or regular coffee.
The differences in flavor between these two coffee bean varieties are that Arabica beans grow well in the highlands and Robusta beans grow in the lowlands.
As noted earlier, regions, countries, soil, and other variations impact the bean’s flavor.
Roasting these beans for espresso vs. coffee simply means that more flavor is extracted the longer and hotter the roasting time.
There are various techniques in making your espresso vs. coffee brews. The method you use for brewing coffee also alters its flavor.
You can use light, medium, or dark roasts to make your ideal brew of regular coffee.
You can also use various methods to make your coffee. Whichever way you prefer, the golden ratio of two teaspoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water is considered ideal.
Here are several standard ground coffee brewing methods to try if you haven’t yet heard of these techniques.
#1 Pour-over method
Insert a disposable coffee filter into a dripper. Add two teaspoons of coffee to the filter.
Next, pour six ounces of ground coffee into the filter and wait for it to drip through.
Your cup of coffee is ready. Add sugar, cream, or milk to taste. If you’re feeling adventurous, a tot of whisky increases the flavor.
#2 Drip coffee machine
Almost everyone knows what a drip coffee machine is. It has a permanent filter and hot plate, and jug.
Add your golden ratio coffee mix to the filter. Pour the water in and switch it on, and once the dripping is over, your coffee is ready to drink.
#3 French Press
Making coffee in a French Press is a step closer to the flavor and texture of espresso, but you’re not quite there yet.
The French Press produces a thicker coffee than in most other methods.
This is because the coffee grounds lie immersed in the water while brewing.
Grouts are strained through a metal filter, allowing all the delicious richness of the coffee beans to filter through to your cup.
Use a coarser ground coffee for the French Press and other filter coffee brewing techniques.
After the French Press, the AeroPress is even closer to espresso. Both immersion and filtration techniques go into this regular coffee brew.
What you end up with is a velvety palate experience that is intensely rich and flavorful.
If you prefer a milder taste, then dilute the brew with hot water. You will also need to use a finer grout than with the other brewing methods.
#5 Siphon technique
The siphon brewing technique combines fire, immersion, and vacuum pressure.
This is quite a complex brewing method where you pour water into the siphon machine, which looks a little like a glass bulb.
Then, a flame heats water which bubbles up to the hopper.
When the temperature is high enough, you add the coffee grounds to the hot water.
The next step is to take the siphon off the heat, so the pressure change and gravity pull the coffee down through the filter and into the bulb.
You should use a medium ground coffee for this technique.
#6 Brewing espresso
If you want to make a decent espresso, then you need an espresso machine.
Once you do, you can use these steps to brew the best cup of espresso possible.
- Clean your equipment
- Select your ideal dose of coffee (fine grouts—a ratio of 1:2–1 part coffee to 2 parts of water)
- Distribute the grounds evenly in the basket
- Tamp the grouts firmly for even distribution and extraction of flavor
- Rinse the group head properly before inserting it in the portafilter
- Start brewing and observe, so you don’t burn or under brew the coffee
You can try making espresso with a French Press or the AeroPress, but the fact is that if the equipment doesn’t work with pressure, you won’t have an espresso.
Your regular coffee may approximate the look, texture, and flavor of espresso, but it will be second best.
You can even use a coffee plunger to try and make espresso as it uses some pressure.
But, again, the outcome will fall short, or a genuine espresso and your coffee cup will probably be full of grouts.
Differences In Serving
The only way to serve espresso is in a shot-size “cup.” Your espresso should be about 2 oz. of water, so the drink is small because it is so strong.
But if you try to drink 6 oz. of espresso, you might find hair growing in places that it shouldn’t (kidding).
An espresso shot is too strong for most people to have more than one as it is laden with caffeine.
You can drink this beverage hot and black or add cream, milk, or sugar.
Either way, you will have that enticing crema on the top of the espresso due to it being expressed through the machine under pressure.
The crema is also a result of the extra hot, long roasting process, which successfully extracts more flavor and aroma.
In contrast, you can serve regular coffee in a small or larger cup, depending on your preferences.
Similar to espresso, you can drink regular coffee with milk, cream, and sugar or simply enjoy the hot, black mystery of a flavorful dark roast.
Personally, no matter how the coffee is served, I prefer a delicious almond biscotti to complement the flavor of the coffee.
Either a delicate biscuit like this or a wholesome wholewheat rusk with seeds and extra fiber is welcome with a serving of my favorite blend when it comes to espresso vs. coffee.
Espresso vs. coffee is bound to produce a different flavor. The simple fact of roasting espresso beans longer and higher heats enriches the flavor and aroma of espresso.
Add pressure that expresses more taste from the beans, and you end up with an espresso with a genuinely full-body flavor.
Espresso extracts hints of chocolate, nuances of caramel, and robust aromas of earthiness.
This richness of flavor is due to the heat deeply penetrating the coffee bean to get down to the caffeoyl.
Once you get to this point, the caffeoyl reveals additional intense notes of berries, fruits, and other flavors.
Depending on whether you use espresso made from Arabica or Robusta beans or a blend of both, the taste will also vary.
But the espresso will deliver a concentrated, rich flavor of the coffee berry in contrast to regular coffee.
Regular coffee is available in different roast strengths. You can buy a mild, medium, or dark roast depending on how strong you like your dark brew.
Arabica beans deliver a smoother taste experience, while Robusta beans are more raw, earthy, and acidic.
Whichever coffee brew taste you enjoy, you can always dilute or enhance the taste with cream and sugar to taste.
Espresso does contain more caffeine than regular coffee for the simple reason that the ratio of coffee to water is less than regular coffee.
For example, where the balance of espresso is 1:2, the standard coffee ratio is 1:6.
Espresso contains anything from 30 to 100 mg of caffeine in one ounce. Standard filter coffee contains 12 to 16 mg per ounce.
That’s a whopping difference, so always be aware of how much espresso and coffee you drink daily, especially if you love espresso.
Espresso vs. coffee is an intriguing concept. Coffee has been an integral part of our society for hundreds of years and just keeps getting better.
Since you now know more about the similarities and differences of espresso vs. coffee, you can experiment with different beans and roast strengths.
You can also play with various brewing techniques to create that perfect brew.
Last Updated on September 15, 2022 by Ashok Parmar