Coffee can be categorized in many ways. For example, there is whole bean coffee and ground coffee, regular coffee and decaf coffee, drip coffee or espresso. We are often asked what differentiates drip coffee from espresso. More specifically, people want to know the differences between a drip coffee bean and an espresso bean.
Also referred to as drip brew or filtered coffee, drip coffee is a method that involves pouring hot water over ground coffee in a filter and then letting gravity pull the hot water through the coffee grounds. Drip coffee is the most widely used coffee in the US with many models and manufactures producing drip coffee makers.
Espresso, on the other hand, is brewed by using pressure. Usually a pump pushes water through the ground coffee to extract espresso.
The answer about the bean used for espresso or drip coffee is actually not complicated at all. There isn’t a specific bean only used exclusively for espresso or drip coffee.
Espresso is not a specific bean or even a specific roast level; it is simply the method of how your coffee is made. Unlike drip coffee, a good shot of espresso will have a thicker more concentrated consistency and a layer of crema foam.
Drip coffee is usually lighter in body and without coffee sediments. Because of the nature and speed of the extraction, espresso has a finer grind than that of coffee ground for drip coffee.
When labeling a bean as espresso, most roasters will take in to consideration the consistency, flavor, and crema produced when the bean is brewed as espresso. Because a bean may be labeled as drip coffee, this does not necessarily mean that it is an inferior bean. It simply means the composition of the bean, or most likely blend of beans, works best when dripped brewed. This concept is also subject to the user’s palate. For instance, one of my favorite drip coffees, Illy Dark Roast Ground Espresso, is actually labeled as an espresso roast by the manufacturer.