Espresso Beans vs Coffee Beans: 6 Key Differences

By Evelina •  Updated: 11/10/22 •  6 min read

Are you a coffee lover? Do you enjoy the taste and smell of a freshly brewed cup of coffee? If so, have you ever given much thought to the different types of beans that are used to make coffee?

Most people don’t realize there is a big difference between espresso beans and coffee beans.

In this blog post, I will cover the 8 key differences between espresso beans and coffee beans. I will also give you some tips on how to choose the right type of bean for your needs!

Let’s get started!

What Are Espresso Beans?

Espresso beans, are coffee beans that have been roasted more, ground more finely, and brewed with higher pressure than coffee beans used for drip coffee or any brewing method.

The result is a concentrate that is full of flavor and contains more caffeine.

Espresso is made by forcing hot water through a small amount of tightly packed, very finely ground coffee beans. The high pressure and temperature extracts more caffeine and oils from the beans, resulting in a strong, flavorful cup of coffee.

Coffee Beans, Roasting and Flavor

Regular coffee beans (or any other coffee bean besides espresso) can be roasted to various degrees, which results in different flavors.

The lightest roast is called blonde roast, while the darkest roast is called French roast. In between, there are medium roasts with different acidity levels, altitude growths, types (like Arabica, Robusta, Libarica) and more.

The roasting process also affects the caffeine levels in coffee beans. The darker the roast, the less caffeine it will contain. So if you are looking for a coffee with more caffeine, you will want to choose a light roast.

Coffee beans can be used to make every coffee you can imagine (except espresso), from Moka Pot coffee, French Press, Turkish coffee, even greek Frappe.

Below you will find a table with the types of coffee roasts, from light to dark, their acidity and the flavors that each roast typically has:

DifferencesLight RoastMedium RoastDark Roast
Acidity in pH4.74.95.0
Roasting Temperature356-401F400-430F430-450F
TasteFruity like lemonsSweet like caramelToasty, chocolatey

Differences Between Espresso Beans And Coffee Beans

Now let’s continue with our topic and see the main differences between espresso beans and coffee beans.

1. Roasting

Roasting is the first phase that coffee beans go through after they are harvested. The coffee beans are placed in a roaster where they are heated until they turn brown.

The roasting process determines the final flavor of the coffee. The longer the beans are roasted, the darker they become and the less acidity they will have.

Espresso beans are roasted for a longer period of time than coffee beans, resulting in a dark roast with low acidity.

2. Grinding

After the beans have been roasted, they need to be ground. The grind size is important because it affects the surface area of the coffee that is exposed to water.

A finer grind will have more surface area exposed to water and will result in a stronger cup of coffee.

Espresso beans are ground much finer than regular coffee beans, otherwise the whole process wouldn’t work since water wouldn’t be able to extract all the flavors and caffeine from the beans.

3. Brewing

Brewing is were all the magic comes into place and the coffee is finally made.

The grind size, water temperature, water pressure, and brewing time all play a role in the final cup of coffee.

Espresso is brewed under high pressure and with very hot water. The most common pressure is 9-15 bars and the water temperature is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

The brewing time for espresso is much shorter than regular coffee, around 25-30 seconds. This is why espresso has a much higher concentration of caffeine.

On the other hand, brewing with regular coffee beans will take from 1 minute for a typical drip coffee to around 4 minutes for a French press. The pressure is much lower, and the water temperature is around 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Taste

Taste is very important when we talk about coffee. Different types will have different taste and that is also true for espresso and regular coffee beans.

Espresso will have a stronger taste because of the brewing method. Other than that, depending on the espresso beans and how fresh they are, the espresso might have a fruity, chocolatey, or even smoky taste.

Regular coffee beans can also have different tastes depending on the brewing. For example, AeroPress coffee will have a closer taste to espresso than French Press or Chemex.

In general, regular coffee will have a milder taste since the brewing process is less intense.

5. Caffeine content

The caffeine content for a coffee with mostly depend on the bean used and the coffee to water ratio you choose.

But for the sake of this article, we’ll compare the caffeine content of espresso and regular coffee using the typical ratios.

Espresso clearly has more caffeine. A 1 to 2 ratio of espresso to water will have around 63 mg of caffeine while regular coffee calls for a 1:17 ratio, resulting in around 12 mg of caffeine.

Nothing to do with the pressure or the brewing method this time, it’s just the coffee to water ratio.

Keep in mind that these numbers are for a single shot of espresso and 8 oz of regular coffee. If you order a double shot of espresso or a grande at Starbucks, the numbers will be doubled.

6. Price

The price for espresso beans and regular coffee beans will also be different.

Espresso beans are typically more expensive since they are roasted for a longer period of time

The price difference won’t be too drastic, but you can expect to pay around 20-30% more for espresso beans.

Also, the marketing behind espresso beans will typically be more premium since the whole experience of drinking espresso is seen as more sophisticated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Espresso Beans to Make Regular Coffee?

No, you can’t. Espresso beans are roasted longer, which gives them a darker color, and they’re ground finer. These two factors produce a more concentrated cup of coffee, which is not what you want for a regular cup of coffee. The finer grind also makes espresso more susceptible to bitterness.

Related Read: Can You Use Regular Coffee For Espresso?

What Are The Best Coffee Beans For Espresso?

Although it depends on your taste, the best coffee beans for espresso are Arabica beans. They have a mellower flavor and less acidity than Robusta beans. Arabica beans also produce a sweeter and more aromatic cup of coffee.

Final Thoughts

So, the differences are plenty and can be quite significant depending on what you’re looking for.

Espresso is more intense, has a higher caffeine content, and costs more. It’s also more of a specialty coffee that takes some time to perfect.

On the other hand, regular coffee is more accessible, has a milder taste, and costs less. It’s also more versatile since you can brew it in many different ways.

Happy Brewing!


Evelina’s passion for coffee could never been hidden. Having worked as a barista, she learned the true value of the coffee bean and its secrets. As she continued to evolve as a barista, so did her knowledge, techniques on making different coffee blends and most importantly how to operate every kind of gear when it comes to coffee. Having a degree in biomedicine and being a barista, allows her to provide our community with in-depth knowledge surrounding the topics of coffee.

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