Are “Espresso Beans” Actually Different?

In today’s marketing, espresso is often reduced to being little more than a coffee-flavored energy booster. People see espresso and think, “more caffeine.” But espresso is so much more. It’s a rich, heavy, flavorful coffee that requires special preparation and tools to create. 

As with any coffee, you want to make sure you’re using quality coffee beans. But are there coffee beans specifically reserved for making espresso? No. Though you’ll likely find coffee bags at the store labeled “espresso beans,” it’s just marketing. These same beans could be used to make a pour over or drip coffee. 

To make true espresso, it’s all about the preparation. 

What is Espresso? 

Espresso is simply a brew method for preparing coffee. When done correctly, it creates a stronger and thicker end product with a rich, layered collection of flavors. Also, yes, it has more caffeine per fluid ounce than standard coffee. 

Espresso PourIt starts by grinding the coffee beans to a very fine consistency. Hot, pressurized water is then forced through the grounds. This process creates a strong coffee topped with crema, a foam layer that forms from air mixing with coffee oils. The crema adds to the richness of the beverage.  

Those who aren’t used to drinking espresso would probably describe it as very strong, if not slightly overbearing. Once accustomed to it, you’ll find espresso to have a fuller, sweeter flavor than most standard coffee. Espresso can be enjoyed on its own, where it’s typically served in smaller portions. Alternatively, it can be mixed with other ingredients or added to other coffee beverages for an added boost in flavor and caffeine.  

There are a number of popular espresso-based beverages such as an Americano, which is a shot of espresso mixed with hot water, and a cappuccino, which is a shot of espresso topped with steamed, frothy milk. 

Are Some Beans Better Suited for Espresso? 

We all know the beans used to make coffee have a big impact on the final product. Though there’s no such thing as espresso beans, there are coffee beans better suited for espresso. Typically, light  and medium roasts work best, creating a brew that’s bright and fruity. Beans with strong notes of chocolate are also popular for espresso. They create a sweeter, smoother taste that offsets espresso’s natural strength.  

If you’ve never tried proper espresso by itself, we highly recommend it. It is its own experience. Just make sure it’s prepared correctly. 

At 7 Corners Coffee, we feature a variety of espresso beans throughout the year. Currently, we’re using Hometown from Sweet Bloom at our café in downtown Minneapolis, as well as our Eden Prairie location. Come and experience the joys of well-made espresso.  

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