What is espresso? Is it some bitter jolt of caffeine, or something new and trendy?
1) Espresso is a type of bean.
2) Espresso is a type of blend.
3) Espresso is a type of roast.
The finger could be pointed in many directions, inaccurate marketing by coffee chains and grocery stores, or in word of mouth terminology as those ever popular “chocolate covered espresso beans.”
If you ever get the privilege to travel to a coffee farm and experience the beauty of the coffee farming process you’ll quickly discover that the trees look quite similar. Sure, there may be some different varietals on the farm but one thing you will not notice are trees labeled, “drip”, “aeropress”, “syphon pot”, “espresso”… and so on.
This may sound slightly ridiculous. You may think this is obvious information, but it is humorous how many people would rather choose a large cup of coffee rather than an espresso based drink assuming that it is from a different bean and has different chemical composition.
There is some truth in that some companies choose to make some espresso blends. These blends are often used to try to “tame” the coffee and are often easier to work with that single origin espressos (SOE). The problem doesn’t lie in that so much, as in the belief that you can’t use anything than an espresso blend to brew espresso with, or espresso beans.
Espresso roast, this unfortunately would be poor marketing on behalf of coffee companies. I have a strong belief that many coffee companies thrive on keeping the general public uneducated. The less they know, the less they’ll question us. Unfortunately this causes us to dumb down one of the worlds most complex products.
You can use any roast profile you desire to brew espresso with. You might find that you’ll need to adjust your brewing parameters to compensate for the roast, but if you’re using a good coffee, you should be getting a good result. Contrary to popular belief, a dark oily bean is not a good sign. This is a sign that the coffee bean is over roasted or past it’s prime and the cell walls have begun to be compromised and they are starting to release the oils (the aroma and flavor) that you’re trying to get out of it while brewing.
Take away; If you’re fortunate enough to have an espresso machine at home, try to use the same coffee through it as you would use for your drip brewer and think about the differences in taste that each brew method brings to the table.