Can You Use Regular Coffee For Espresso?

Can You Use Regular Coffee For Espresso

Can You Use Regular Coffee For Espresso? 

There are different types of beans that make great tasting coffee. And if you are a true coffee lover then you are picky with your beans. 

But is there a difference between espresso beans and regular coffee beans?

Many coffee lovers are aware of what sets them apart but what about for those who don’t? Well, this reading will try to answer the question: can you use regular coffee for espresso?

Aside from the brewing method, the roasting process is also a factor of your coffee too as it affects how you brew your coffee until it tastes great like the fresh coffee beans, the green ones straight from the coffee plant. These fresh beans cannot be used for brewing. It is during the roasting process that actually unlocks the oils and sugars within the bean which gives the coffee the distinct aroma and flavor. High temperature and length of time determine the profile of the roast, either light or dark. Lighter roast gives a more distinct flavor, medium roast is more balanced in acidity and flavor, a darker roast is less acidic and more bitter. But all these roasted beans are also coffee beans for any brewing method. 

What is Espresso?

It is the result of brewing coffee through a fast and high-pressure espresso method. This fine-ground coffee must be packed tight in a basket called portafilter. It is placed into your espresso machine and must be tamped into the portafilter with thirty to forty pounds of pressure. 

When making espresso, you make use of hot water through a machine at high pressure within about twenty-five to thirty seconds. The shot that you’ll get is a thick, full-flavored brew with just the right amount of espresso crema and is often used as the base for other drinks like the macchiato and cappuccino. 

Can we use regular coffee for espresso? Now, let’s try to discover their differences. 

Coffee beans

These are the roasted and readied beans for brewing. If you want the full distinct flavor of your bean, you can choose the light roast, depending on where it came from. 

  • Light-roasted beans. These beans do not have an oily sheen and are perfect for white coffee, and non-pressure brew styles, like pour-over coffee or cold brew coffee. 
  • Medium-roasted beans. These beans result in a different flavor profile and are based on the bean origin which can be used for many brewing styles. 
  • Dark-roasted beans. These beans stand out for their dark brown color and shiny, oily surface. It is usually used for espresso brewing. 
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Espresso coffee beans

These beans belong to the dark roast category, this is where the beans offer the least acidity with a fuller body. Through this, you will also know what the flavor of the bean is. These dark roasts of espresso beans are the richest in coffee’s natural oils. Emulsification of these oils along with other compounds in coffee are also helpful in producing the espresso-crema. While using regular coffee beans to make espresso will not produce the kind of brew you expect in a perfect shot no matter how good your beans are. There are some varieties that are too light and too dark.

Espresso Roast:

  1. Roast it lightly hotter for a longer period of time.
  2. It is easier to dissolve the right amount of coffee into the water.
  3. It helps the extraction to push past sourness and balance the sweetness.

Filter Roast:

  1. Roast to a lower final temperature for a shorter period of time.
  2. The coffee’s taste is better and is sweeter.
  3. Can be brewed in a drip machine, French press but not for an espresso machine

When espresso was first popularized, coffee farms didn’t have the refinement of seeds that were brewed as espresso. When you put beans under pressure, its flavor becomes more intense. That’s why to create a consistent flavor profile, roasters use a darker roast to get a smoky caramelized sugar like an Italian roast. However, nowadays, roasters source high-quality beans to make this method of masking taste. Roasters can experiment with lighter roast to enhance the flavor of the coffee as well as its complexity. 

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On the other hand, brewed coffee, either from standard drip brewer or pour-over set-up can produce less intense flavors than espresso. When using regular coffee it is also a bit easier to control the extraction. The beans are also sourced from one location making it easier to brew and has a more delicate flavor, unlike espresso. As you may know, getting a great brewed coffee and a great cup of espresso needs more time and dedication.

Now, can you use regular coffee espresso? Have you ever noticed that if you order black coffee and you’re handed with espresso or vice versa, you’re disappointed? Why is that? Because a drip of coffee is very different from a shot of espresso. Though they’re both coffee, after all, both can be made from the same coffee beans. But what separates the two is the method of preparation. Coffee beans used for espresso are usually roasted for a longer amount of time than beans used for regular coffee. Espresso beans are also ground on the finer side like sand than gravel.

What matters most when it comes to taste is the type of beans. The difference between espresso and coffee has to do with the way it is being prepared. You could use espresso-roasted beans to make regular coffee and dark roasted coffee beans to make an espresso with the use of the right gear.

Espresso is a strong black coffee made by forcing hot water through tightly packed grounds. This kind of extraction process is what gives espresso its signature layers, a shot of coffee at the bottom with a small layer of foam, or crema at the top. On the other hand, if you are making regular coffee, you have a few options for brewing. The grind can be courser than that of espresso and you can use the pour-over drip method of brewing. The coffee that you get from this method has a milder flavor than a shot of espresso. Again, the methods of preparation dictate the flavor than the beans you used. 

It is a small shot of pressure-brewed coffee, using about 1-2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee. The brewing takes over, there are several reasons why most cafes use special blends for espresso and not just regular coffee. It takes about 20 to 30 seconds and will give you a layer of rich, dark golden cream. 

Again, can you use regular coffee for espresso? Yes, you can. What makes a good espresso?

Is it the bean?

People believe that it is the type of bean that determines whether a brew is an espresso or not. But the truth is any type of bean can be used to make good espresso. And definitely you can make a great espresso from regular coffee beans though espresso is usually stronger. 

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Is it the blend?

Maybe some roasters say that a good espresso can only be made with the right type of blends. 

Is it the roast?

It’s not all about the roast. Some espresso roast varies from region to region. Like in California, they have dark or French roasts while on the east coast they have a light roast. In Northern Italy, they prefer medium roast. Generally, any roast can be used to make good espresso and it’s just simply a matter of taste.  If stronger coffee is what you’re looking for then use a darker roast but if you want lighter coffee then use lighter roast. 

Here are some of the reasons why some prefers espresso:


Espresso is always roasted darker than other types of coffee. Drinkers expect a certain espresso flavor than a regular coffee. 


If you want your espresso in a milk-based drink like latte, you have to dark roast through the creaminess of the milk. 


Single coffee is the way to go when it comes to filter but blends are still preferred when it comes to making espresso. 

Espresso is the bold-flavored, slightly-thicker-than-coffee drink from finely-ground beans brewed with high grounds-to-water ratio while coffee is a thinner, less concentrated liquid that has milder flavor and the grounds used are coarser. 


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