coffee beans vs espresso beans



Ever took a walk through the coffee aisle and wondered, what is the difference between coffee beans and espresso beans? Well, we are here to break it down for you!

To begin with, both Coffee beans and espresso beans are more or less the same thing, beans. They both come from the coffee plantation and they are both originally referred to as “cherry”. (If you would like to know more about them we wrote a very detailed article some time ago).

So when it comes to coffee beans vs espresso beans, what is the actual difference? I am glad you asked.

The major point of difference comes in the way the coffee beans are brewed.  Basically, how good a single coffee bean is at keeping you awake depends on how you mix it with hot water.

So let’s dive right into it and understand how the magic works.


Coffee Beans:

For coffee beans to be turned into the actual beverage, the entire coffee bean needs to be ground. Home brewing machines are used for the most part when it comes the brewing coffee beans. These machines are usually pretty straightforwardly mixing hot water with the ground coffee by running the hot water into the coffee powder (usually there is a filter embedded in the machine).

However, there are plenty of other ways to brew coffee available out there.

For instance, when an automatic drip method is chosen, the beans are ground to the point where they form medium thickness and then hot water is run through the powder (which was previously positioned inside a filter) until it reaches the bottom of the filtering system and drips an extract into a jar. Ever heard of filter coffee?


Wait? So are we just saying that not all coffee beans are hot water and coffee powder? YES, that’s exactly it! That’s why it’s so important to know what coffee beans vs espresso beans is all about.


Now let’s have a look at what Espresso Beans actually are.

Espresso Beans:

So let’s start by defining what Espresso is. An Espresso coffee is that short yet powerful beverage that has likely saved your career a handful of times by keeping you awake. It comes with a particularly distinctive smooth but intense aroma as well as a creamy layer on top.

The method used for brewing espresso beans is completely different from that of coffee beans. In fact, in order to make an espresso, a lot of hot water is usually forced, at high pressure, through the ground beans for 30 to 40 seconds. The, usually, a thick 30 ml beverage magically starts to drip into a cup.

This method enables the froth we all love to form on top of the coffee. Who doesn’t love a creamy espresso?  


So, are all coffee beans created equal and can we prepare espresso with just any coffee?

I am afraid not.

The other major difference between coffee beans vs espresso beans is how these beans are roasted.


Coffee Beans:

Coffee beans are usually roasted at a temperature between 180°C – 250°C (356°F – 401°F).

The temperature chosen for the roasting is specifically picked depending on the outcome expected.

For instance, a light roast, which is said to retain most of the caffeine and part of the original taste is usually done at 180°C.

Vice versa, a dark roast, which can usually reach 250°C, barely retains any of the original “cherry” taste and rather highlights the roasting flavor. [2]

So, where do espresso beans rank in this spectrum? Let’s have a look!

Espresso Beans:

Espresso beans are processed differently if compared to the normal coffee beans.

Usually, the beans are spread over a board that is exposed to increasingly higher beans vs espresso beans

The roasting process generally lasts for 12 to 15 minutes with a few exceptions for some brands that have it going for up to 20 minutes. [3]

While on the rotating board, the espresso beans become to dry up and turn golden by the time they reach the temperature of 100°.

After a few minutes, when the temperature of 150° is reached, the beans increase in volume and begin their last transformation into the shiny brown espresso seeds we are all used to see.

Eventually, by the time the temperature of 230° is reached, the beans have lost most of their weight and their color has become even darker. At this point, their characteristic aroma is easily recognized.

It is safe to say that we would be looking at the final product there and then! [4]


Not sure yet? Keep reading to find out how coffee beans vs espresso beans differ when it comes to their flavor.


Coffee Beans:

As we said, normal coffee beans come in different form, shape and roasting. So what’s the real difference between light roasts and dark roast? You got it, it’s the taste.

Light roasted beans usually give the beverage a mild flavor. If you were to chew a mild roast, you would notice that they might still come with a slight woody aftertaste. Similarly, medium roasted beans will give off a darker shade and taste stronger too, but their taste will be far more about the roasting that it is about the “cherry”.


Espresso Beans:

Espresso beans make a coffee which is thick and has a lot of consistency. In fact, it is safe to say that these beans make a coffee which is creamy and rich in flavor.

Espresso usually has a stronger, intense flavor that might not be for the likes of everybody.


At this point you might be wondering if an espresso cup is more likely to keep you awake than a filter coffee is. It’s a very valid question that all coffee lovers tend to ask.

The answer is: IT DEPENDS. Let’s have a look at the different possibilities:If we were to drink the same amount of coffee vs espresso, then then answer is definitely yes! Actually, if you were to drink a whole cup of espresso shots you wouldn’t likely fall asleep for a day or so! [5]

If, however, we are comparing a filter coffee cup to a shot of espresso then the answer changes. According to the Atlas Coffee Club, a cup of filter coffee contains between 85 to 185 mg of caffeine as opposed to an espresso shot which only contains between 40 to 75 milligrams.


coffee beans vs espresso beans infographic

Like many things in life, there is no right and wrong when it comes to coffee preferences.

Of course, to most of us, filter coffee might seem to be the go-to home solution, the easy week day pick and espresso just an easy fix to some sleepless nights. However, if you love your coffee we would really like to challenge you in trying to appreciate the features of both.  

So next time you’re sitting on the fence, wondering what coffee to order, just try what you are least familiar with.

If you are a long coffee lover just go for a creamy espresso shot. Vice versa, if espresso is your weapon of choice, my friend it’s time to drop your moral high-ground approach to coffee and try what’s on the other side!

While there is no such major difference between coffee beans vs espresso beans in nature, we hope that this article has helped our readers understand how differently they are roasted and how they are both used to make the beverage we all love.


Let us know in the comments what’s your favourite coffee drink!



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