Coffee Q&A: The Deal with Espresso

What’s the deal with espresso?

So, my first week of accepting coffee questions has drawn to a close, and I have an excellent question to answer for you this week.
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
The first question comes from my sister (hi, Erin!). We were not raised as coffee drinkers, so she is only now discovering the addiction that fuels most of the adult world. Her question is:

What is the difference between coffee beans and espresso beans?

Well, dear sister and the rest of you reading this, this is a tough one. To answer it really, really, really simply….. there isn’t a difference. You can use any type of coffee in any brewing method. Which means you can use plain ol’ coffee beans when making espresso.
I know! Crazy, right?

But, I’m confused. When I shop for coffee beans in your store, there’s a bag that says “Espresso Blend”! Are you misleading me?

The labels on the bag are not meant to be misleading! They’re actually there to help you! The Espresso Blends are the Roaster’s Recommendation for what would be best tasting as espresso.

Back in the days of instant coffee, we roasted coffee to taste a certain way. Now, there are so many brewing methods, and each one creates a coffee that tastes different than the next.

So if you buy a bag of our coffee, say the Celebration Blend, and you devoted an entire afternoon to brewing that coffee on each and every brewing method you could find. You might notice that it tastes different in each cup. (If you don’t have the time or resources to do that than you can just take my word).

Focusing on the espresso; espresso machines tend to make coffee that is very strong and very bold. While something like a V60 pour over method will make coffee that is more nuanced and a little lighter. Flavors that are really good in the V60 might not come out as nice in the espresso. Coffees that have a really pleasant, earthy taste in the V60 might come across tasting muddy in espresso.

Why would that happen? Well, the basic answer is that espresso is much more concentrated than your typical cup of coffee. So subtle, light, lemony flavors in your pour over could come across more concentrated in an espresso. So that, nice, bright lemon you tasted once now could taste as sour as biting right into a lemon slice.

But, if that’s what you like, then go for it! Again, you can brew whatever coffee you want as espresso; it comes down to your taste preference. So if you have a home espresso machine, I recommend trying out as many coffees as you can to determine what you like the most!

Make sense? Which of our coffees do you like best as espresso? Drop a comment and let me know! And if you have a question feel free to leave it in the comments or DM us on Facebook or Instagram @black_river_roasters.

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