Espresso Beans VS Coffee Beans: What's the Difference?

Espresso Beans VS Coffee Beans: What's the Difference?

Both espresso beans and coffee beans have the same origin. Both have the purpose of brewing coffee. However, espresso beans are specifically for brewing coffee with the espresso machine. They have different grind quality and are dark roasted to ensure the maximum taste and flavor extraction through the espresso machine.

In this article, we will see the difference between espresso beans and regular coffee beans. We will see the key differences, and how both coffee beans are similar and different. 

Espresso Beans VS Coffee Beans

On the basic level, espresso beans and coffee beans are the same. Both have the same origin. Both are either Robusta beans or Arabica beans, and are used to brew coffee, but the difference is only the way both are roasted.

Roasting is the most crucial stage of preparing coffee beans. It affects taste and flavor and determines how long coffee beans should be brewed to extract maximum flavor. Roasting also affects the density and weight of coffee beans. Let's discuss roasting and see how it changes coffee beans.

How Roasting Affects the Coffee beans?

Espresso Beans VS coffee Beans

Roasting turns green beans into light or dark brown, but the difference is not just the color.  Coffee beans have a grassy taste, no aroma, and a spongy texture without roasting. Roasting causes chemical changes in beans, making them smell like coffee.

Roasted beans are crunchy and weigh less because heat dries the moisture inside the bean. It brings out the aroma and flavor of coffee beans. When you brew a cup of coffee, you may feel different nuances in your cup based on the type of roast. It may have a sweet, bittersweet, nutty, or even chocolatey taste. All these depend on how coffee is roasted.

Roasting time varies; the longer coffee grounds are left in commercial roasters, the more body it develops. Let's look at the different types of roasts:

Light Roasted Beans

light roasted beans

Lightly roasted coffee beans have a light brown color. They are dense, so they must be brewed for a long time to extract the flavor and taste. No oil is on the surface; thus, it is used in mild coffee varieties.

Medium Roasted Beans

Medium-roasted coffee beans have a darker color and a stronger flavor than light roasted with still a non-oily surface. This type of roasting is preferred in the United States, which is why it is also called an American roast.

They have a bit of oil on the surface due to the longer roasting time. The coffee brewed with this type of bean leaves a bittersweet taste afterward. 

Dark Roasted Beans

dark roasted beans

Dark roasted beans are roasted the longest. They are light in weight, dark in color, and crunchy. Dark roasts have an oily sheen on the surface.  These types of beans have less caffeine content and have a bitter taste. Dark roasted beans also have less acidity. Dark roasted beans are also suitable for a cold brew due to less acidity.

What are Espresso Beans?

Despite the popular belief that espresso beans are superior or different from regular beans, they are just dark roast coffee. They are grown and processed the same way as other beans. The main difference is the way they are roasted. Espresso roast refers to dark roasted beans.

Though you can brew coffee with any other roast, there is a reason espresso beans are dark-roasted. They are suitable to how the espresso machine works.

The espresso machine uses the brewing technique of plunging hot water through the bed of finely grounded coffee beans. The grounded beans in the portafilter need to compress for maximum flavor. A darker roast gives the maximum flavor and concentrated coffee within this short brewing time. A shot of espresso has a more intense and concentrated flavor than all other brewing methods. The flavor profile is intense and feels fuller in the mouth. So here are the key differences between espresso beans and normal coffee beans.

Dark Roast beans

dark roasted beans

Espresso beans are dark roasted. Compared to lighter roast or medium roast beans, they have intense flavor and aroma and suit the brewing method of espresso. This is also why, at Parachute Coffee, we our dark roast beans are also suitable for espresso. Try our dark roast coffee beans today.


Another real difference between espresso coffee beans and other coffee grounds is the grind quality. The grind size of espresso beans is very fine. A coarser grind fails to extract the same flavor and taste of coffee as the fine espresso grind. Mainly because espresso brew requires pushing hot water through the coffee beans. Water comes into contact with coffee beans for a very short time, and if it's not fine, it cannot extract the maximum flavor.


The taste of coffee with espresso beans differs from the other coffee beans. An espresso shot has a more concentrated coffee than coffee brewed by any other method. It has a robust and full body with an intense flavor, strong aroma, and a mouthful feel.

Yes, you can make espresso like coffee with other methods like French press, but the outcome is hardly the same. 

Natural Oil Richness

As we have mentioned, long roasting gives an oily shine to the beans. Espresso beans are rich in oil. The rich natural oil in coffee beans is due to the chemical reaction between the internals of coffee beans with oxygen. The emulsification of these oils with other compounds in coffee helps create espresso crema. A downside of being rich in oil is that coffee grounds have limited shelf life. Read our detailed guide on how long coffee grounds last.


Espresso beans have higher concentrations than light or medium-roast coffee beans. That is why espresso shots taste more concentrated and have a bold body than coffee made with any other brewing method.

Preparation Time

Espresso beans are meant to have minimum contact with water. The espresso brewing is a fast and high-pressure method. The dark roast helps in extracting the maximum flavor from the coffee. The hot water is passed through the portafilter within 25-30 seconds.

Brew Method

Ordinary coffee beans are good for brewing coffee with any brewing method, like drip coffee or cold brew coffee. But espresso beans produce the best coffee through the high-pressure brewing method.

Here are some minor differences:


Espresso beans are browner in color due to more roasting. They have a shiny surface.

Least Acidity

Espresso beans have the least acidity and still give a fuller body than other mild-flavored varieties.

Caffeine content

Espresso beans have less caffeine as compared to other types of coffee beans. As they are roasted for a longer time, a lot of caffeine is burned away during that process. One shot of espresso(1 oz) has a similar caffeine to one cup of drip coffee that can be (7-8 oz). 

Some Common Fancy Drinks Made of Espresso Beans

Due to its rich, concentrated form and nuanced flavors, espresso shots are used as a base in many fancy drinks. Here are a few espresso-based drinks:

Final Words

Both espresso beans and regular coffee beans are the same coffee beans. The difference between espresso beans and ordinary beans is the roast quality, grind quality, and taste. Espresso beans are roasted and grounded in a special way to suit the brewing technique of the espresso machine. You can use any other type of coffee bean, but it may not extract the exact flavor and the strong brew. 

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dark roasted coffee beans