What’s The Difference Between Espresso Beans And Coffee Beans

What’s The Difference Between Espresso Beans And Coffee Beans

Espresso beans are coffee beans. The pack label distinction has to do with the brewing suggestion by the roaster. Espresso requires a darker roast and a specific brewing method. The outcome is a concentrated short volume of coffee with bold and rich flavor. 

Espresso involves a lot of technicalities. Choosing the right pack of beans is important. So, stay with us, read this article since we discuss all the brewing differences. Also, we’ve included a small guide to help you buy the best flavor profile for your preferences.

Table of Contents

What is Coffee?

Coffee is a tree that can reach up to 10 meters. Most of the world’s coffee production comes from the so-called Bean Belt. This consists of the enclosing areas of the Equator. Bean Belt includes South & Central America, Asia, M.East, and Africa.

These plants produce coffee beans in the form of a “cherry.” The word “coffee bean” is actually deceptive; the beans we roast to make coffee are actually seeds.

Each cherry-like fruit of the coffee plant usually contains two of these seeds. Coffee farmers pick out these cherries at the optimal stage of ripeness. Doing so, they ensure the best possible flavor profile.

Each coffee type has some specifics to reach its greatest taste. This depends on the fruit’s gathering process and maturity level.

Following the harvesting process, farmers extract the coffee beans from the cherries. Now it’s time for roasting coffee beans. Roasting differs based on the coffee’s desired outcome. To brew espresso you need a good dark or medium roasted blend of coffee beans. [1]

What is Espresso?

Buying coffee beans for espresso can be daunting for beginners. Now, it’s clear that espresso beans aren’t different from regular coffee. The different label indicates the roaster’s suggestion for the brewing method.  

You can make delicious espresso using any coffee variety. The label espresso on a pack of beans implies greater roasting time at higher temperatures. This roasting results in darker and oily beans. 

Yet, this darker roast of coffee is essential to prepare barista-quality espresso at home.

True espresso has 10-15% of the beverage as a crema on top. Darker roasts tend to produce more oily coffee beans. Natural oils are necessary to create the espresso crema. 

espresso coffee

Also, darker roasted coffee usually has a less unique flavor profile. Yet, espresso snobs consider that it creates a richer taste. 

Lighter roasts produce floral and fruity flavors. But, darker roasted beans deliver woodiness, spicy, and chocolate tones in your cup. Also, dark roasts are less acidic which is important for espresso brewing. [2]

Espresso should have a heavy body with a rich and bold aroma. Darker roasted coffee delivers these characteristics better than a lighter one.

Characteristics of a dark roast:

  • Lower acidity
  • Heavier body
  • Spicy, woody, and chocolate tones in flavor
  • Rich aroma
  • Thick crema on top

Espresso Vs Coffee

The word espresso means “express” in Italian. So, this beverage comes from Italy and it aims to serve coffee customers fast. To prepare espresso you’ll need a different grinding and brewing method. 

Espresso machines extract this small concentrated shot of coffee by using extensive pressure. But let’s discuss some more distinctions between espresso and regular coffee. 


Roasting isn’t easy if you don’t know how to do it. There is a range of temperature and roasting time. Roasting can last between 8-20 minutes. And the temperature range is 370-550 F (188 to 285 °C). 

Roasters use a temperature of around 455 F to roast coffee for espresso. The roasting time is between 11-13 minutes. For regular coffee, the roaster will use about 320 F and up to 8 minutes of roasting.  

There is a lot more to roasting such as the entry temperature and the finishing heat of roasting. Coffee roasting is a difficult skill that coffee snobs don’t overlook. [3]

espresso machine brewing coffee


Espresso requires finer grinding than regular coffee (but not too fine!). Espresso machines use hot water and high pressure to extract coffee. Fine grounds (well-tamped) are necessary because hot water runs through in less time. But, what’s fine? Fine grounds are like sand.

If your grounds happen to be too fine like powder, then you’ll have a bitter flavor. Also, the extraction process will be slower. Espresso happens in 20-30 seconds and all technicalities are important for a good cup. [4]


You can’t make true espresso without the proper brewing gear. Only espresso machines can create the required pressure for extraction. Also, if you’re on a tight budget, you can prepare espresso with an Aeropress. [5]

For regular coffee, there are slower brewing methods. You can use a percolator, drip coffee maker, and many more.

Besides the brewing gear, you’ll need some skills too. Espresso crafting isn’t that difficult if you’re willing to put in the time to learn it. Those who have passed the learning curve, enjoy barista grade coffee at home!


Coffee volume is also different between espresso and regular coffee. A shot of espresso is about 1 ounce and a double shot is something less than 2 ounces. 

Learn exactly how many ounces are in a shot of espresso

Difference between espresso beans and coffee beans - starbucks cup sizes
Starbucks Cup Sizes

A cup of filter coffee contains 6 ounces of beverage. Feel free to refer to the following table for Starbucks cups [6]:

Starbucks CupOuncesMl


Regular coffee has a taste that most of us are familiar with. So, let’s discuss how a true espresso tastes. This short-volume beverage must have sweet and rich tones and a flavor that features caramel.  

To achieve that outcome you shouldn’t neglect the variables. If your espresso is bitter or sour then you’ve under-extracted it. 

The espresso color is dark brown with thick golden-colored crema on top. Crema collapses after a minute without affecting the color of the drink.

Caffeine Content

Most people don’t know that espresso has less caffeine than regular coffee. Well, this depends on how much coffee you’re going to drink. 

The longer roasting at higher temperatures burns some of the caffeine in espresso. The difference is slight but you can enjoy your espresso without having excessive caffeine in mind. 

Let’s be more specific. A shot of espresso is about 1 ounce and contains about 60 mg of caffeine. One cup of regular coffee (8 oz) contains around 100 mg of caffeine. 

Some coffee shops serve double shots of espresso with a volume of 1.5 ounces. This means that a triple espresso could have almost the same caffeine as a cup of regular coffee. [7, 8]

Espresso Based Drinks

You can have an espresso at the following extraction volumes:

  • Espresso single shot (7 gr of coffee beans with around 25 sec of extraction time)
  • Espresso ristretto (7 gr of coffee beans with around 15 sec of extraction time) 
  • Espresso double shot (14 gr of coffee beans with around 25 sec of extraction time) 
  • Espresso lungo (7 gr of coffee beans with around 35-40 sec of extraction time) 

Also, there are several coffee beverages based on espresso [9]. We have made a list for you here below:

  • Americano
  • Cafe Macchiato 
  • Cappuccino
  • Dry Cappuccino
  • Latte Machiatto
  • Latte
  • Cafe au Lait (France)
  • Cafe con Leche (Spain)
  • Cafe Mocha
  • Cafe con Panna
  • Cafe Breve
  • Vienna Coffee
  • Iced Coffee
  • Affogato
  • Cafe con Hielo
espresso based drinks

Espresso & Coffee Beans Buyers’ Guide

There are over 100 kinds of the genus “Coffea”. Farmers cultivate only three for commercial coffee consumption. Coffea Arabica (Arabica), Coffea Canephora known as Robusta, and Coffea Liberica. 

Liberica is grown in Liberia, Malaysia, and the Ivory Coast. It accounts for only 1% of the world coffee market. The most popular and commercial varieties are Arabica and Robusta.

Robusta plants are more resistant to insects. They reach full production in a shorter period of time. Also, they have almost twice the yield per plant and the crops are easier to grow due to the low altitude. The above elements result in a lower cost per kilogram than Arabica.  

Arabica is a higher quality coffee and more expensive. Coffee farmers cultivate Robusta to reduce the cost of coffee. About 70% of the world’s production is Arabica and 30% is Robusta. If you want to enjoy good quality coffee, you should go for Arabica. [10]

Every pack of coffee has a unique taste that depends on its origin and roasting. You’ll notice that you may prefer some specific packs over others. 

Here below is a table [11] to help you out with the flavor profile of each roast:

Light RoastMedium RoastDark Roast
Flavor ProfileEarthy
AppearanceLight brown like cinnamonDarker with oil droplets on the beansDark brown to dark with oily look

The Bottom Line

So what’s the difference between espresso beans and coffee beans? They are the same thing. Espresso beans are coffee beans roasted for a longer time at higher temperatures. 

Espresso requires more skills to prepare it the right way. As soon as you figure out the science behind it, you’ll enjoy delicious shots at home. 

What To Do Next?

We have discussed all the differences between brewing espresso and regular coffee. Now it’s time for you to buy some beans and prepare your own cup of coffee. 

If you’re on the market for coffee or any kind of gear, don’t hesitate to read our buyers’ guides. 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *