What is the difference between beans intended for coffee use vs beans intended for espresso? My understanding is the beans come from the same plants as mentioned previously but they are prepared differently?

What happens to coffee beans before they are packaged for consumers? How are some prepared in a way that make them better suited for espresso brewing vs coffee brewing?

2 Answers 2


First of all, there is no difference in the beans themselves. They all come from either Robusta or Arabica plants. The roast doesn't vary either. You can use any kind of roast for your espresso, it's up to preference.

What does change is the grind. Espresso grind is very fine - much finer than other preparations of coffee.

You may find packaged coffee sold as 'espresso beans' or 'espresso roast' being darker/bolder roasts, to emulate a darker, stronger coffee regardless of preparation, however it has little to do with real espresso (and you may even find 'espresso' ground coffees being sold with a large/inconsistent grind!).

  • 2
    Several good references for the roast spectrum; I like this one. Here's another that discusses "espresso roast" as being third in line, less dark than French (darkest) and Italian. "Full City" roast level is common for espresso; more refs here. +1 for sameness of beans, importance of grind, and personal preference of roast.
    – hoc_age
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 16:45

There is no actual difference between "espresso beans" and "coffee beans"; in reality, they are both just "coffee beans". When you see something packaged as "espresso beans" or "espresso roast" it is most likely just a dark roast designed to taste good when ground ultra fine and used to make espresso.

When it comes down to it, the only thing that changes is the grind (espresso is generally ground very fine). The actual roast or bean used is up to your personal preference; one local coffee shop that I enjoy uses a blonde roast for their espresso, while another one right down the street uses a very dark french-italian roast.

As far as the beans themselves are concerned, there are only two types of coffee bean: C. arabica, and C. robusta. Both are suitable for espresso, or drip coffee, or any other preparation method (in fact, you've probably had both many times without even realizing it).

TL;DR — There is no such thing as an "espresso bean"; it's all just coffee.

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