Trying to figure out the difference between espresso beans and regular coffee beans? Consider checking out this post, as it shares every little detail that helps you understand what differentiates regular coffee beans from espresso beans.
While exploring your local grocery store or browsing your favorite Coffeeboon website, you may have come across a few bags of beans with an espresso label. Unless you hold expansive domain knowledge, this may leave you confused – are espresso beans different from regular coffee beans? This post aims to clear up the fog between Coffee beans vs Espresso Beans. Read on!
What is the difference between espresso and coffee beans?
Well, the espresso label on coffee bags never refers to the beans. The foundational gap between regular and espresso beans doesn’t lie in their origin. Instead, it’s all about the way of roasting them, the consistency of grinding, and the art of brewing them.
Coffee beans are essentially of four types – Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. The Arabica and Robusta are the most used and well-admired, and you can produce any type of coffee drink using them, including espresso. So, what’s special in espresso beans? Put simply, the espresso beans are more roasted, finely ground coffee beans that you can brew using an espresso machine or even an Aeropress.
What turns Regular Coffee Beans into Specialty Espresso ones – The Crucial Factors
Now that you know there are no stereotypical espresso strains, it’s time to gain some more clarification on the subject. Though these beans are not different based on their origin, a few crucial factors turn ordinary coffee beans into specialized espresso ones. Here’s a detailed explanation of them.
Coffee Beans vs Espresso Beans – The Differentiation Factors
For any type of coffee beans, the roasting technique is the alpha and the omega. It brings in all those differences in flavors, taste, and nuances. While regular coffee beans may range from light to dark and French roast, dedicated espresso beans are essentially medium-dark to dark roasts. The level of roasting contributes to the nuances, body, and flavors of the beans.
Darker roasts are the right pick for espresso because of their bold, smoky flavor and the oil that surfaces on the beans, making them perfect for brewing fuller-bodied, strong espressos. The oils come out from the beans because espresso roast is done at high temperatures.
While brewing regular coffee using a French press or pour-over, you should keep the grind size coarse. On the other hand, when you are grinding for espresso, you should ensure that the beans are finely ground. This will allow you to extract the best flavors of your beans.
This happens because espresso brewing involves passing pressurized water through the ground coffee beans. It takes around 20-30 seconds to wrap up the job. Therefore, if you don’t grind your beans finer, your espresso shot will turn out thin and lack both taste and nuances.
On the other hand, for regular brewing, coffee beans are steeped in water for longer. If you use finely ground beans for those methods, it will lead to over-extraction, making your coffee bitter.
Despite having sharper flavors, espresso beans tend to hold less caffeine. Since it’s roasted longer, it loses its caffeine content compared to light or medium roast coffee beans.
Espressos are more bitter than regularly brewed coffee, and its high concentration is the reason for the said bitterness. Sometimes, this concentration may be even stronger, and you may need to add water or milk to dilute it. Contrarily, regular coffee beans tend to have a balanced concentration of bitterness.
Density and Size
Well, you may find it weird, but espresso beans are larger than regular coffee beans. It happens because while being roasted, the coffee beans lose weight as most of their water content evaporates. Due to this reason, the internal fiber of the beans looks larger than their standard size, making them less dense and bigger.
When you order a bag of specialty espresso beans from roasters who freshly roast beans upon receiving orders, they keep the preparation method in mind. They roast the beans for long at high temperatures, helping the oil extraction.
Besides, the long roasting time makes the beans richer, more concentrated, and bolder. On the other hand, when you order regular coffee beans, they are typically roasted for a shorter duration, making them fit for any kind of brew.
The Espresso Crema – Know the Secret of Experts
Crema is something that defines espressos. Yes, you caught us right – we are talking about that light-colored layer, which shows up on the surface of brewed espresso shots at the extraction stage. “Oh, I know it well” – we’re sure that this is what you will say after coming across the above-mentioned unnecessary crema definition. But wait! We’re here to let you know something you may not have ever considered.
The crema you see may have different colors, and these minute differences talk about the type of roast, the time of the shot, or even a potential problem with the grinding consistency. When the crema is too light, and the bubbles are larger than usual, it’s an indication of under extraction. On the other hand, if it’s blackish, it points to over-extraction or the use of a darker roast. However, if the crema is thinner and contains fewer bubbles, rest assured, it’s the darker roasted beans who’re responsible, and it’s absolutely fine. But, if this is not the case, get ready to grab a bitter and muddy cup (over-extraction is the villain).
Espresso vs Coffee – The source of the Battle
Finally, it won’t be absolutely wrong if we say that the entire debate started not because of the beans but because of the difference in brewing methods. There’s a story behind the emergence of specialty espresso beans. When they snatched the limelight, coffee firms used to lack the refinement of cultivating what you see today. Due to this reason, the beans that were poor in terms of quality used to be brewed as espresso.
Naturally, after putting the beans under vigorous pressure (which is obviously espresso brewing), even poor-quality beans produce more intense flavors. However, the entire thing was like the trial of selling off a cup of blueberry tea as a handful of real blueberries, which was, of course, not working well.
So, roasters across the globe jumped into a mission – they tirelessly started finding ways to create a consistent flavor profile, and in this quest, they started to roast beans for longer, which used to result in smoky and caramelized sugary cup notes. However, this roasting method started suppressing the nuances flavor profile of the beans. So, the roasters kept on experimenting, and the present-day high-quality espresso beans are the results of those experiments.
Nowadays, specialty roasters source avant-garde beans to create extraordinary espresso roasts, making them top-shelf and investment-worthy products.
So, the moral of the story is, that coffee beans and espresso beans are not different, and the label on the bag should never influence your brewing preferences. Those labels are sheer recommendations to guide you. However, ultimately it’s you who should take the right call. Remember, coffee is all about experimenting and finding out the ideal brew. Who knows, you may be the next Raul Rodas or Sasa Sestic. So, believe in the process and keep on creating cups that make you feel proud. Happy brewing!
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if you use coffee beans for espresso?
Technically, if you pick up regular coffee beans with darker roasts and grind them finely before pulling your shots, it will make no difference. However, if you are more interested in a sophisticated and specialty espresso experience, you should stick to dedicated espresso roast beans.
What beans should I use for making espresso?
Espresso is a type of concentrated and strong coffee beverage. Due to this reason, you should always pick up high-quality Arabica beans for brewing your cups, as Robusta beans are naturally strong, and when you use them for making espressos, the double dose of strength may leave you unexpectedly overwhelmed.
How long do coffee beans last?
Coffee beans last longer than ground coffee. You can keep an unopened pack for 9-10 months. However, once you open it, you can expect the beans to taste delicious for 6 months.
Can I freeze coffee beans?
For long-term storage, you can use the freezer to preserve coffee beans. Even if you have opened the original packaging, you can store small portions of the beans in plastic zipper bags and store them in your freezer for the next 60-90 days. In case your bag of coffee is vacuum sealed, you can store them for the next 2 years.
What is coffee degassing?
Degassing refers to the method in which the development of carbon dioxide in roasted coffee is released over a period of time.