There are many different kinds of coffee, and all the jargon can make a newcomer’s head spin. Espresso is a trendy style of coffee, but many aspects can be confusing when it comes to brewing it. When searching for the coffee to make your espresso, you may think to yourself, “can you use coffee beans for espresso?”
Coffee beans can be used to make espresso. However, using light, medium, or dark roast beans can affect your coffee’s flavor. Because of this, it’s best to use beans that have been roasted and finely ground specifically for espresso, especially if you want a flavorful, full-bodied shot of coffee.
The rest of this article discusses the similarities and differences between coffee beans and espresso beans and the best kinds of beans to use for espresso. If you’re wanting to learn to brew the best cup of espresso every time, keep reading!
Can You Use Regular Coffee Beans in an Espresso Machine?
You can use regular coffee beans in your espresso machine, but they must be ground to the correct consistency. Espresso is prepared with exceptionally finely ground beans, and coarse grounds will affect your coffee’s flavor. Dark roast coffee beans will also produce the best crema in your cup.
When shopping for coffee beans, you may notice some are labeled as espresso beans, while others are not. The difference between these beans is in the roasting process.
Espresso beans are typically roasted even darker than dark roast beans, producing natural oils on the bean that create a stronger crema.
Crema is the technical term for the foam on top of the coffee when a shot of espresso is pulled. Some coffee connoisseurs say you can’t have a good espresso without good crema, while others claim it’s overrated. It ultimately depends on the opinion of the person drinking the espresso.
Crema is formed when air bubbles meet the oils on the coffee bean during the brewing process. The layer of foam can also give you clues on how well the cup was brewed.
For example, the color and consistency of the crema can tell you whether the coffee was over-extracted or under-extracted, as well as the quality of the bean.
All in all, the importance of crema is up to the barista. If it’s important to you, you should use dark roast beans to get the best possible layer of crema. If you aren’t worried about crema, you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to the beans you pick.
Can You Make Espresso With Regular Coffee Beans?
You can make espresso with regular coffee beans. Some coffee beans are explicitly labeled for espresso, but others can be used as well. The important part is to get a bean with a dark enough roast for espresso.
Technically speaking, espresso refers to the brewing process, not the type of beans. Following this logic, you could make espresso from any bean you wanted, although you may not be happy with the result. Medium to dark roast beans produces the best flavors for espresso.
Light roast beans could be used, but they are more challenging to brew correctly. In addition, they tend to be less consistent than dark roast beans due to their aging process. Light roast beans change more as they age compared to dark roast beans, which means the flavor may differ from cup to cup.
Are Coffee Beans and Espresso Beans the Same?
Coffee beans and espresso beans come from the same plant, but they have different roasting processes. Espresso beans are roasted darker than traditional coffee beans and produce a better crema.
Espresso beans are essentially just coffee beans that are best suited to be brewed into espresso. There are no rules when it comes to making coffee- it just boils down to individual preference. Therefore, you can experiment with the coffee-making process to see what suits your lifestyle best.
If you find you prefer one type of bean over the other, don’t fret. If it tastes good to you, it doesn’t matter whether you used an untraditional kind of bean. Unless you’re serving coffee to other people or looking for a truly authentic experience, it’s okay to experiment and see what you like best.
Which Coffee Beans Are Best for Espresso?
Medium to dark roast beans is best for espresso. If buying pre-ground beans, you should look for ones that are finely ground. Espresso beans can be helpful for beginners to understand what to look for in a good cup of espresso.
While it isn’t a requirement to buy beans explicitly labeled for espresso, it can be helpful for aspiring baristas to get a feel for what espresso should look and taste like. It’s just like riding a bike- you wouldn’t pick a bicycle intended for stunts as your first bicycle ever.
In that same manner, you shouldn’t choose a coffee bean that will be extremely hard to turn into good espresso when just starting out.
Moreover, espresso beans are grown and roasted with specific flavors in mind. These flavors are selected to suit the espresso brewing process best. If you aren’t using espresso beans, it’s advisable to use medium or dark roast beans instead. They have the most similar flavor profile.
Do I Need Special Coffee for an Espresso Machine?
You don’t need special coffee for an espresso machine. Any coffee beans will work if ground to the right consistency. However, espresso machines require very finely ground coffee beans to produce optimal results.
If buying pre-ground coffee, it’s essential to make sure your coffee is finely ground. Anything too coarse will affect the coffee’s extraction and, therefore, can produce a sour or bitter shot of espresso. Espresso blends are already ground to the correct consistency, so keep an eye out for them.
However, if you’re buying whole coffee beans and grinding them yourself, you have more options. Grinding coffee beans can have a learning curve, but the reward is fresher coffee. Coffee goes stale quickly once ground, so grinding your own as needed helps your coffee stay fresh longer.
If you want to grind your own espresso beans, it’s recommended to invest in a good coffee grinder. This will ensure a similar consistency every time. Inconsistent coffee grounds can lead to over-extraction or under-extraction and leave you with an unsatisfying cup of coffee.
When choosing a coffee grinder, make sure it has a setting that will make fine enough grounds for espresso. You have a few options: electric or manual; burr grinder or blade grinder.
A burr grinder is the preferred option for professional baristas due to the inconsistency of blade grinders. However, whether you choose an electric or manual grinder is ultimately up to your personal preference, as they both produce similar results.
It’s a good idea to invest in a quality coffee grinder. While they may be more expensive, the results they produce for your espresso will be noticeable. In addition, a good coffee grinder helps with consistency, making a great shot of espresso every time.
You can use any type of coffee beans to brew espresso, but some types present more challenges than others. It’s recommended to start with espresso beans if you’re new to brewing espresso.
As your talent grows, you can begin to experiment with the beans to suit your personal preference. Just make sure your coffee beans are ground to the correct consistency for your espresso machine. Avoid choosing beans that are difficult to brew when first starting.