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It can get confusing trying to understand all the different terms in the coffee world, especially if you’re new to the scene. That’s why it’s no surprise that the question: “is espresso a type of coffee?” comes up in conversation a lot.
So, without further ado, here’s what you need to know.
Is Espresso a Type of Coffee: For Readers in a Rush
Yes, espresso is a type of coffee. Normal coffee and espresso both use coffee beans, however, they taste very different. This is because of the process used to make them.
The roasting of the beans, how they’re ground, and how each type is brewed, contribute to why these drinks contrast with each other.
The Beans Used for Coffee and Espresso
The main two types of beans used to make coffee and espresso are Robusta and Arabica. That means when you have coffee and espresso sitting side by side, it’s likely that they were made with the same coffee beans.
If you think about it, this is really strange. Two drinks that look different, taste different, and contain different amounts of caffeine, typically use the same basic ingredients. However, as we dig a little deeper, expanding on what we said in the last section, it will be clear why.
How Roasting Works for Both
Although we’ve answered: “is espresso a type of coffee” let’s see how the roasting process plays its part in making coffee and espresso widely different.
To start with, beans used to make the original espresso are roasted a lot longer. As a result, their appearance is darker. Professional coffee roasters will wait until the bean has gone past what’s known as the “second crack”.
By doing so, the flavor of the espresso comes out stronger. Also, much of the acidity is removed when beans are roasted longer, leading to the beans being oily. This is noticeable in both the texture and the flavor when the espresso is served.
For a standard cup of joe, light, medium, and medium-dark roasts are regularly used. Each country has its own way of doing things, but this is how America usually does it.
So the next time you’re wandering down an aisle and see a packet of coffee beans with the label “espresso”, expect them to have been roasted for a long time.
How They’re Ground
When it comes to the grinding method, there are some big differences. It’s typical for espresso to be ground much finer than regular coffee.
The reason for this is due to the brewing process. Hot water is pushed through the compacted grinds quickly, so they must be very fine, otherwise, the process doesn’t work.
Normal coffee bean grinds are usually much larger. The most common type you’ll find will be a medium grind. As the brewing process doesn’t require regular coffee to have such a fine grind, it’s unlikely that you’ll find traditional coffee with the same grind as espresso.
How Are Coffee and Espresso Brewed?
When making a normal cup of java, there are various methods that can be used. This includes:
- French press
On the other hand, for espresso, there is only one method for brewing. And this can only be done through the use of an espresso machine or an Aeropress. Once it’s done, the end result should be a 1oz/2oz shot of caffeine-enriched goodness.
However, the majority of coffee enthusiasts will tell you that you need more than just the equipment to make a high-quality espresso. That’s why it’s left to the trained baristas around the world to get it right.
If you decide that you want to give it a go and make espresso at home, don’t let this sway you. With the right equipment and the internet at hand to point you in the right direction, you’ll become a professional in no time.
How Does the Taste Differ Between Espresso and Coffee?
With the big changes between both coffee and espresso, it’s easy to see why they taste so different.
When carrying out a taste test, you can notice that the espresso is a lot bolder without an acidic flavor that’s present in drip coffee. Overall, you’ll find that espresso has a much richer and more well-rounded flavor.
Equipment to Get Started When Making Espresso at Home
Using the right tools for the job is the best way to begin your journey to becoming a coffee aficionado. We’ve listed our recommended all-in-one espresso machine below. Unlike others, this comes with all you need, from grinding the beans to frothing the milk, and of course, making the actual espresso.
How Much Caffeine Do Espresso and Coffee Have?
If you put the same amount of coffee and espresso next to each other, ounce by ounce, there’s a clear winner. Without a doubt, it’s the espresso.
For example, a regular cup of coffee that’s 8oz in size has between 90-200mg of caffeine in it. Espresso has around 512mg to 600mg of caffeine.
Now, you need to keep in mind that drinking an 8oz cup of pure espresso would be crazy. That’s why it’s usually added to milk and only 1oz is used, therefore, it’s no surprise why lattes and cappuccinos are so popular.
So this means when you put a latte or cappuccino next to a normal-sized coffee, the cup of joe usually has higher caffeine content.
Remember, good coffee or espresso isn’t just about getting your caffeine fix, it’s a delight to enjoy too.
How Does Americano Differ from Espresso?
An Americano is a type of coffee drink that includes espresso, but with one major difference: the espresso is diluted with water.
Yep, that’s it. The overall strength of the drink is similar to a normal cup of java. However, lovers of the Americano would say it has a less acidic taste and is overall much smoother.
If you feel like making one, the process is very simple, as long as you’ve perfected making the espresso.
All you need to do is pour in your shot of espresso and add water on top. Or, if you feel like a rule breaker, you can do it the other way around. There’s actually a name for this too called “long black”.
Does a Cappuccino Use Espresso?
If you were paying attention to the earlier section, the great cappuccino does in fact use espresso. However, a lot of milk is added to the drink, completely changing the taste and texture. Plus, there’s a top layer of what’s called “microfoam”, which is basically steamed milk foam. Also, there’s the option of adding powdered chocolate or cinnamon on top of that to finish it off.
A cappuccino is another drink you can make at home if you have the equipment. Simply add a shot or two of espresso to the cup, pour in the hot milk, and then add a small layer of microfoam. Oh, and maybe add some chocolate powder at the end if you’re in the mood.
Can You Make Espresso Without Finely Ground Beans?
We’ve all been in a situation where we really want something but don’t want the hassle of going to the shops to get it. So, if your particular craving is espresso and you only have medium grind and roast coffee to hand, don’t worry!
The world of coffee is largely about experimenting with different drinks and ingredients to see what works and what doesn’t. In this case, you will notice that the flavor will be more subtle compared to a dark roast, but hey, you might like it more.
To make this dream a reality, you’ll need to grind the medium beans until they are finely ground. However, after you’ve completed this, you can follow the normal steps of making the espresso.
Just to give you a heads up, when we tried this, the end result wasn’t to our liking. At The Coffee Bros, we like our coffee strong. Unfortunately, the outcome of using medium roast beans made the drink taste on the weak side, and in a few cases, it just tasted watered down.
What Does “Espresso” Actually Mean on Coffee Bean Packets at a Shop?
Is espresso a type of coffee? Yes, we know this now. This means that coffee beans can be used for either espresso or coffee. So, the label is simply saying that the roast and the grind of these beans have been done in a certain way to make a great espresso.
If the packet contains whole beans, then you can expect them to be dark roasted. Once you get home, you will have to grind them before it’s time to make espresso.
This may sound like a lot of work, but many prefer buying whole beans to already ground ones. Why? Well, the espresso typically tastes fresher by doing so.
For packets that consist of ground beans, they’re roasted and have been ground just right, ready to be added to your Aeropress or espresso machine.
To Finish Up
Hopefully, we’ve answered: is espresso a type of coffee? To a satisfactory level. If not, here are the main points one more time.
Espresso is indeed a type of coffee. However, unlike a regular drip coffee, the beans are roasted for much longer, are finely ground, and need a special machine (espresso or Aeropress) to turn them into espresso.
For many coffee drinks, espresso is the core feature that provides rich flavors and that all-important shot of caffeine. What’s not to like?