The magic word for any coffee enthusiast or lover is more often than not “espresso”. So, it’s only fair that all of us start to wonder if espresso beans (beans prepared especially for making espresso) might make normal coffee taste even better. After all, it does have all the magical ingredients it needs to transform us from a groggy zombie to a ball of pure energy.
But, the question prevails:
Can you use espresso beans for normal coffee?
Well, technically, the answer is yes. Any coffee bean can be used to make coffee, regardless of whether it contains magic or not. But, is it the best coffee you’ll ever taste? Will it completely change your life?
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is a lot more to learn about espresso beans before we can find out if we are potentially in for a life-altering experience. So, let’s get right to it!
What Makes Espresso Beans Different?
I am sure you are already aware of this, but just in case you were wondering: yes, espresso beans are very different from normal coffee beans. Essentially, all types of coffee beans are broadly either Robusta or Arabica. But, there are slight differences that make espresso beans a little bit more magical.
From the roast to the caffeine content, let’s look at some of the main differences between the two.
Are Espresso Beans Roasted Differently?
Espresso beans are roasted darker – usually past the second crack, so it has a toasted and deeper flavor than the beans (light, medium, or medium-dark) used for drip coffee.
The beans are also roasted for longer, so it removes a lot of the acidity while releasing more oiliness. This creates a heavier, fuller feeling in the mouth when the beans are made into coffee shots or coffee.
Are Espresso Beans Oilier?
You will find that espresso beans are often much oilier than regular beans (now you know what that glistening look is that calls out to you every time). This is because as coffee beans roast, they begin to release oils.
The darker the roast, the more surface oil the bean will have.
Therefore, espresso beans that are roasted darker and for much longer tend to be extremely oily.
How Are Espresso Beans Typically Ground?
An espresso grind is typically much finer than other types of coffee grinds. This is because the process of making espresso requires hot water being pushed through tightly packed grounds.
The coffee grounds need to be very fine, like the texture of sand, because the water comes into contact with them for a shorter period of time.
Is There a Difference in Taste?
Since espresso is roasted, ground, and brewed differently, it has a unique flavor compared to drip coffee. It usually has a bolder, less acidic taste, with a well-rounded and full-bodied finish.
It tastes “stronger,” meaning that it has a rich coffee flavor.
The roasting process especially brings out more oils in the beans, so it often has a heavier feel.
Espresso Beans vs. Coffee Beans Caffeine Content
Most people believe that espresso beans have more caffeine than normal beans. That is, in fact, a myth! Not to burst your magical bubble about espresso beans, but in reality, the average cup of drip coffee has slightly more caffeine than espresso.
Nonetheless, espresso has a high concentration of caffeine per ounce.
Basically, one shot of espresso (1 ounce) has a similar caffeine content as one cup of drip coffee (8-10 ounces). If you were to drink 8 ounces of espresso, you’d be way overloaded on your daily dose of caffeine though!
Therefore, while espresso (the drink) is completely deserving of that spot on the pedestal, espresso beans, not so much. You would generally speak, be better off using regular coffee beans for a normal cuppa.
However, this is not to say that espresso beans are bad or cannot be used for normal coffee. They totally can be, but don’t expect any fireworks!
That being said…
I am sure you have encountered chocolate-covered espresso beans at your local supermarket or general store. And if you are anything like me, you probably already have a bag of these lying at home. And, just in case you were curious –
Do Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans Have Caffeine?
Yes, chocolate-covered espresso beans contain caffeine. A single chocolate-covered espresso bean has between 6 and 13 milligrams of caffeine. The coffee bean has about 6 milligrams, and the rest comes from the chocolate coating.
The range of caffeine content is quite wide though because ultimately it depends on how much and what kind of chocolate is used to coat your espresso beans.
If it’s white chocolate, you’ll probably need more than one cup to wake you up. But if it’s dark chocolate, expect to be jumping up and down, at least figuratively.
Can You Put Espresso Beans in a Coffee Maker?
The answer to this question depends on the kind of coffee maker you have at home and whether you are using pre-ground espresso beans or grinding them yourself.
For most automatic coffee makers, any kind of grind usually works. However, some may not work as well as you’d expect with pre-ground espresso beans which are a much finer grind than regular beans.
Have a look at the instruction manual or packaging of your coffee maker. Does it specify a particular type of grind? If yes, and it’s a grind that is coarser, do you have access to a coffee bean grinder? Can you buy the espresso beans and grind them yourself to the required consistency?
Once you get all of those things sorted, you can go on and try your hand at making regular coffee with not-so-regular beans. Make sure that you tamp your coffee so even if the grind is too fine, it doesn’t escape into your cup.
How To Use Espresso Beans in Your Automatic Coffee Maker
Step 1: Check the requirement for coffee bean grind that your appliance has – finer, medium, or coarse.
Step 2: Prepare your pre-ground coffee beans, if the fine grind is an option. Or alternatively, grind your own espresso beans to the required grind size.
Step 3: Add the water to your coffee maker. Use room temperature water, or as required by your appliance.
Step 4: Pour the grounds in the coffee grounds basket and tamp properly. Make sure that the grounds are tightly packed, so as to not allow them to escape into your beverage.
Step 5: Put together all the parts and let your automatic coffee maker do its magic.
Step 6: Enjoy your amazing cuppa!
Can You Use Espresso Beans for Drip Coffee?
A drip coffee maker is a system through which the water automatically drips into a heating tube. Once the water is heated, it is poured on the ground coffee, going through a filter and coming out as a hot cup of coffee.
For a drip coffee maker to be successful at its task, the grind used must either be fine or medium. Hence, espresso beans whether pre-ground or freshly ground could be used in a drip coffee maker quite easily.
As I said, technically, any kind of coffee bean can be used to make regular. You just have to comply with the requirement of your chosen coffee maker.
Do take note that some drip coffee makers specify exactly the type of grind that is required. This is due to the filters used – some may not be able to work very well with coarser grinds and may need very fine consistency.
Regardless, using any type of espresso beans should not be a problem as long as you stick to the rules dictated by your machine.
How to Use Espresso Beans for Drip Coffee
Step 1: Check the requirement for coffee bean grind that your appliance has.
Step 2: Prepare your pre-ground coffee beans. Or alternatively, grind your own espresso beans to the required grind size. This would usually be fine or medium – but make sure to check the kind of filter you are using, especially if you are using your own.
Step 3: Add the water to your drip coffee maker.
Step 4: Pour the grounds into the filter and let your appliance get to work. You will soon hear the refreshing trickling sound.
Step 5: Enjoy your fantastic cup of drip coffee!
Can You Use Espresso Beans for Pour Over?
A pour-over coffee maker, as compared to a drip coffee machine, provides more flexibility in customizing your coffee. With a pour-over, you can choose the type of filter to use in accordance with the grind size that you have available.
You can also control the temperature of the water as well as the speed at which water is poured onto the grounds since both of these are manual activities. While the latter two benefits of a pour-over don’t quite impact our purpose here, the first advantage of flexibility with filters is a big one.
If you intend to start using espresso beans for regular coffee, the pour-over method is probably the easiest one to adapt to your new choice of beans. All you have to do is switch out the filter and use one that can handle finer grind (do note that typically a pour-over uses a medium-coarse grind).
Of course, this is only valid if you are using pre-ground espresso beans. If you have access to a grinder, whole espresso beans, and a variety of filters, the possibilities are countless.
I would recommend starting with a coarse or medium-coarse grind (close to the consistency of sea salt) and working your way up or down.
How to Use Espresso Beans for Pour Over
Step 1: Boil water, at least one and a half cups for one cup of coffee, Double or triple the amount for more cups, but do make sure your pour-over coffee maker is big enough to hold it.
Otherwise, you may have to do this in batches. The ideal water temperature for pour-over coffee is somewhere between 195F and 205F.
Step 2: Prepare your pre-ground coffee beans. Or alternatively, grind your own espresso beans to the required grind size.
This would usually be medium-coarse but make sure to check the kind of filter you are using, especially if you are using your own.
Step 3: Rinse your paper filter to ensure that your coffee doesn’t have any paper taste. Place the filter in the dripper over your cup or carafe, and then for about five seconds, carefully pour hot water all over the filter in a circular motion to pre-wet it.
Step 4: Pour the grounds into the filter and gently tap it to make sure that the grounds settle evenly.
Step 5: Make the coffee bloom (add just enough of the hot water to ensure that all of the grounds get wet) with the first contact with water.
This process of blooming the coffee releases carbon dioxide while making the grounds swell and expand. This also releases the beans’ wonderful smell and flavor, priming you for the delicious cup ahead.
Step 6: Make the subsequent pours slowly and in a circular motion. Leave gaps of at least 20 to 40 seconds between pours to make sure all the water travels through.
Step 7: Let wall the water drip through the grounds into your cup or container.
Step 8: Enjoy the brilliant taste of an espresso pour over!
Can You Use Espresso Beans in a French Press?
Like every other appliance we have talked about, it is possible to use espresso beans in a French Press, but only and only if you have your own grinder. If you buy your espresso beans pre-ground from the store, I would recommend that you skip this section completely and move on to the next.
A French Press uses a very coarse grind and therefore, pre-ground espresso beans just won’t work.
If you have your own coffee bean grinder, it is a completely different matter.
You could always get whole espresso beans and then grind them to the coarsest setting to ensure that they work with your French Press. And then you get the golden smooth texture of a French Press with the bold taste and aroma of espresso.
How to Use Espresso Beans for a French Press
Step 1: Grind your espresso beans on the coarsest setting in your grinder.
Step 2: Put the water to boil, but remove it from the stove just before it starts to boil.
Step 3: Pour the coffee grounds into the French Press. Use 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 1 cup of water.
If you are afraid the espresso beans might make your coffee too bold, you can use slightly less coffee.
And on the other hand, if you just can’t get enough of the bold taste, go ahead and add another half a tablespoon or even a full one.
Step 4: Pour the water and stir the grounds in gently.
Step 5: Cover your French Press and let the coffee steep for 4 minutes exactly, not less and never more.
Step 6: Press down on the plunger evenly and slowly. Make sure that the coffee grounds do not escape into your beverage. Note that if you see a lot of coffee grounds in your final cup, you are probably using the wrong grind and your grounds are not coarse enough.
Step 7: Gently pour the coffee from your French Press into your cup.
Step 8: Enjoy the fruits of your labor and the delicious taste of espresso beans!
Can You Use Espresso Beans Twice?
No, I would generally never recommend that you use any coffee beans twice, let alone espresso beans. Whether dark or light, Robusta or Arabica, or espresso or regular, you are guaranteed to get a much weaker beverage the second time around.
However, you make your coffee, the process of doing it the first time would have squeezed out most of the flavor and the caffeine from the beans right away, leaving you with the few leftover drops of flavor that are not good for anything.
With espresso beans especially, the second espresso shot will not even be good enough to be called a cup of coffee, provided you used the beans in an espresso machine.
You can almost definitely forget about getting an actual coffee shot. If you are using espresso beans to make regular coffee, the second round might be slightly stronger than what comes out of an espresso machine, but it won’t be satisfying at all.
The disappointment, the wasted effort, and the pointless trial are the reason I stay very far away from reusing coffee beans. However, if you must reuse them, try putting them to good use for other things like face packs, cleaning supplies, and fertilizer.
So, there you have it – all you need to know about espresso beans and more. While I know that you must be disappointed to hear that espresso beans have less caffeine content than regular beans, don’t let that discourage you from trying them out for regular coffee.
Let the taste – which I can guarantee will be better and bolder – determine your judgment.
Additionally, when it comes to coffee, experimentation is key. If you don’t try, how will you ever know if you will like it or not? Or if it’s going to be the one beverage that will transform your life.
Whether it satisfies the caffeine content requirement or not, it is definitely going to satiate your thirst for a great – or even legendary – cup of coffee.
What are you waiting for then? Go on and get yourself a bag of espresso beans and get experimenting! Don’t forget to share your experience with me. Was the taste better, or was it the same? Did you discover a great new recipe? Have a clever little hack you’d like to share with everyone? Tell us everything!