What Is Espresso Roast [2023]: Unveiling All Of Its Secrets

An espresso roast is another simple way of roasting coffee beans that’ll taste very good when brewed as an espresso.

And no, there are no different beans known as “espresso beans”.

Espresso roast is neither a stronger nor a different type of green bean. They’re just roasted with minor tweaks here and there to optimize their espresso-making potential.

Espresso roast is one of the sub-categories of roasts among the crucial 4 types of roasting levels.

Speaking in general, it falls into a medium-dark to dark roasted category that’s suitable for making espresso with. Dark roasting goes past the 2nd crack of the green beans and brings out their oils, reduces acidity, and adds a smoky flavor – just what you like to have in your cup of espresso.

Why Do We Need Espresso Roast?

So the question we need to start with is “Why do we need an espresso roast?”

Below we’ve enlisted all the key reasons behind the need for espresso roasts in the world of coffee.

The first and foremost reason is that everyone wanted an optimized roasted coffee bean that would easily bring out all the desirable characteristics of the espresso once brewed.

There is also the espresso-making procedure itself. It’s a very delicate brewing method and goes wrong pretty easily. So, baristas around the world wanted an optimized roast, dedicated to espresso, which would be more foolproof.

Another major reason why espresso brewing is difficult is the chance of under-extraction (less soluble coffee). Generally, for ideal espresso extraction, grinds need to dissolve (19–22%) well and easily into hot water. So, baristas wanted an easy roast that could meet such demand.

The last one is also linked with solubility. Good espresso made out of well-soluble coffee grinds is NOT strong in acidity. Thus, industry experts wanted to make a roast that had the intensity of espresso as well as easy solubility and acidity.

What’s An Ideal Espresso Roast?

With an espresso roast, one has to retain the natural flavors of the beans while achieving an easy-to-use and delicious-tasting espresso bean.

As we’ve mentioned, the key lies in the more soluble and lower acidity roast types.

Furthermore, espresso packs a dark, chocolatey, and intense punch. These characteristics can only be achieved with darker roasted profiles.

That’s why the roasters have to lean towards medium-dark roasts to dark-roast types to find their own espresso roasts.

Beans Ideal To Use For Espresso Roasts…

Technically, roasters can use any type of coffee bean for an espresso roast. It’s more down to how the roasting will be performed.

Arabica coffee beans from Brazil are a very traditional choice in this case. They’re inherently lower in acidity but offer more body.

But roasters have become more sophisticated. Espresso roasts should not be single-origin roasts. Espresso roasts are made with both Arabica and Robusta beans to optimize the exquisite outcome of espresso in the final cup.

It’s important to note that the roasters mix 85–90% Arabica beans with 10–15% Robusta beans. The Robusta guarantees strength and body, whereas the Arabica takes care of the flavor, aroma, and texture.

You can find different mixes of Arabica beans in espresso roasts as well. For example, 75% Brazil, 25% Guatemala, or a Colombia-Ethiopian blend of 50% and 50%.

Espresso Roast VS. Dark Roast

It’s one of the most misunderstood and confusing subjects in the coffee world. But if you’ve read our article this far, it’s not a problem for you anymore.

But let’s summarize the comparison now once and for all.

Espresso roast is simply another name for dark-roasted coffee beans. It’s ideal for… you’ve guessed it! Making espresso. Yes, there are a few tweaks along the way for an espresso roast from a traditional dark roast. But their fundamentals are the same.

On the other hand, a dark roast is one of the major categories of coffee bean roasting. Darkly roasted beans have an oily sheen and low acidity due to their prolonged roasting. That’s why the flavor is smoky but still delicious for making strong coffee drinks.

In conclusion, almost all types of espresso roasts are dark roasted, but not all dark roasts are espresso roasts.

Espresso Roast VS. Filter Roast

Just like the espresso roast, the filter roast is also a popular choice among coffee lovers around the world. Moreover, filter roast is also made to optimize filter brewing—one of the healthiest ways to brew coffee.

Espresso roasting has a longer roasting period, whereas filter roasting has a shorter roasting period.

This is exactly why filter roasts fall into the light to medium roast categories. Espresso roasts are way darker than any of the filter roasts.

Espresso-roasted beans carry less caffeine and acidity when compared to filter-roasted coffee beans.

You can use espresso-roasted beans for your filter coffee, but filter-roasted beans don’t make a good espresso shot.

Filter roast is famous for preserving the original characteristics of the beans, but the same cannot be said about espresso roast.

An espresso roast offers an intense body with a caramel-like sweetness, whereas coffee brewed from filter-roasted beans offers floral light notes with fruity sourness.

How Different Roasts Affect Espresso

Light Roasts

Having roasts for a shorter period of time means they end up appearing the palest shade of brown of all roasts.

They’re the driest beans, with little to no visible oil on their surface. They have an earthier flavor, are highly acidic, and pack the most caffeine punch.

While any roast can be used for any brewing method (which includes espresso), using light-roasted beans, in this case, will produce a disappointing result.

The coffee will be flat and lack the richness and velvety finish associated with traditional espresso.

Medium Roasts

Medium-roasted beans are heated until they reach their “second cracks”.

They’re a little bit darker brown in color and offer a little more robustness than lighter roasts.

The beans also won’t have any visible oil on their surface.

When compared to light roasts, medium roasts offer a more balanced taste and slightly less caffeine.

A medium roast is perfect for a lot of experimenting and is suited for all types of taste palates.

Medium-roasted beans are capable of making a decent shot of espresso.

Medium-Dark Roasts

The beans go just a little longer than their “second crack”. It darkens and richens the color of the beans, leaving some oil on the surface.

Medium-dark roasted beans have flavor profiles ranging from bittersweet to spicy, chocolatey, or caramel-tasting depending on the age and origin of the beans.

Medium-dark roasts have a well-developed body, roundness, richness, and density.

Because of these characteristics, European (especially Italian) baristas love to use medium-dark roasts for their perfect shots of espresso.

Dark Roasts

Dark roasted beans go well beyond the 2nd crack and have the darkest color. They also have an oily and shiny exterior.

Their flavors can be smokier, fuller, and burnt.

The beans do achieve a chocolatey caramel sweetness, a low-acidity level, and a low-caffeine count.

The most sought-after roasting is required for brewing the best-quality espressos.


What’s the difference between regular (medium) roast and espresso roast?

Espresso-roasted beans have an oily surface. Regular roasted beans don’t have an oily bean surface.

Does Espresso Roast have more caffeine?

Espresso roast is intense but low in caffeine when compared to light-roasted beans.

Does Starbucks use espresso roast?

Yes, Starbucks does have its own espresso-roasted beans.

Can any coffee be used for espresso?

All types of coffee (like Arabica and Robusta) can be used for making espresso.

Is espresso roast stronger than a dark roast?

The espresso roast can be stronger if one uses multi-origin beans. Dark and espresso roasts are generally similar in caffeine but slightly different in their flavor profiles.


For a perfect cup of coffee, the roast level is only a starting point. Grinding the beans, brewing method, brewing machine, and water quality are also massive factors behind a successful brew. Additional factors like milk, milk froth, and sweeteners are the key final touches to perfection.

But even after all of these, you might not even end up with a desirable cup of coffee. Do you know why? Your ability to act. It’s the sole reason why coffee brewing is one of the most sophisticated acts. If you don’t have enough practice in a brewing method, no tools and beans can save you.

So, in the end, your best bet is to trust yourself! Keep learning and experimenting.

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