Have you ever looked at the coffee aisle and seen the bags labeled as espresso? You may have wondered: are coffee beans and espresso beans actually different, or is it just a marketing thing?

Well, yes and no. Coffee beans and espresso beans are technically the same thing because they originate from the same place. But the “espresso” label is more than just a marketing gimmick.

The main difference is the brewing method. These two differ based on the ways they’re roasted and eventually prepared. While coffee beans are available in a variety of roasts to make different coffees, espresso beans in particular are a darker roast specifically made for a hot cup of espresso.

To avoid getting the wrong beans, keep on reading as I break down their differences for you.

Main Differences Between Espresso Beans vs Coffee Beans

The main differences between espresso beans vs coffee beans are:

Espresso Beans vs Coffee Beans: Product Comparisons

Espresso Beans:

1. Starbucks Espresso Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee

Starbucks Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee — Espresso — 100% Arabica — 1 bag (18 oz)

If you like a no-frills dark roast, these Starbucks espresso beans are perfect.

Key Features:
  • Caffeinated
  • Dark roast
  • Caramelly flavor

These espresso beans yield a strong-tasting coffee that somehow does not taste bitter. It does have notes of that caramel sweetness that help to salvage it from the bitter end of the spectrum.

However, it might be too bold for some people.

  • Strong, robust flavor
  • Easily available
  • Low shelf life
  • Might be too expensive for some

If you love a strong, robust coffee that retains the notes of sweetness to it, these espresso beans give you just that!

Overall Rating: 4.7/5

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2. Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend, Medium Espresso Roast

Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend, light-Medium Espresso Roast, 2.2 Pound (Pack of 1) ,Premium Quality, Aromatic, Mild and creamy

These espresso beans produce a mild and creamy espresso flavor with hints of hazelnut and brown sugar flavors.

Key Features:

When it comes to flavor and aroma, this product will hit all the right notes for any espresso lover! The combination of Arabica and Robusta combines the sugary notes of Arabica perfectly well with the bitterness of Robusta.

However, it might be a little mild for the OG espresso lovers.

  • Good flavor profile
  • Velvety texture
  • Not very strong
  • Not very smooth

All in all, it’s a great choice for espresso lovers who do not necessarily want a bitter-tasting coffee but can appreciate a strong cuppa when they taste it.

Overall rating: 4.6/5

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3. Lavazza Espresso Barista Gran Crema

Lavazza Espresso Barista Gran Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend, Medium Espresso Roast, Oz Bag (Packaging May Vary) - 2.2 LB, 35.2 Ounce
Key Features:
  • Medium roast
  • Caffeinated
  • Manufactured in Italy

For those that love a smoky and earthy flavor in their espresso, these espresso beans are perfect. They are also very smooth-tasting and well-rounded.

However, it’s a medium roast, so it won’t give you the more toasty notes of a dark roast.

  • Great flavor profile
  • Very aromatic
  • The flavor might be too mild for some
  • Nothing too impressive taste-wise

If you want to go for an espresso bean bag that gives you a basic, more mild shot, then this is a perfect choice!

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

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Coffee Beans:

1. Starbucks Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee — Breakfast Blend

Starbucks Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee — Breakfast Blend — 1 bag (20 oz.)

Start your mornings right with these well-balanced, energizing coffee beans.

Key Features:
  • Medium roast
  • Made with 100% Arabica beans
  • Highly caffeinated

These beans produce coffee that tastes great on its own without any additions. It’s great for anyone who wants good taste without it being too overwhelming. Plus, the aroma is bound to wake you up every morning!

However, the caffeine content is quite high and might not be for everyone.

  • A go-to, accessible flavor
  • Great value
  • Might make you jittery

Overall Rating: 4.7/5

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2. Eight O’Clock Coffee the Original

Eight O'Clock Coffee The Original, 21 Ounce, Medium Roast Ground Coffee 100% Arabica, Sweet, Fruity & Well Balanced
Key Features:
  • Medium roast
  • Caffeinated
  • Kosher

This coffee tastes pretty smooth with no hint of bitterness. It’s great for coffee drinkers that aren’t a fan of the burnt, more bitter taste of other types of coffee.

Sadly, some consumers may notice issues with quality control.

  • Full-bodied, strong flavor
  • No bitterness
  • Affordable
  • Might taste too bland for some

For beginners or occasional coffee drinkers who want an aromatic, mild cup of joe, these coffee beans are ideal.

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

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3. Real Good Coffee Co Whole Bean Coffee

Real Good Coffee Company - Whole Bean Coffee - Donut Shop Medium Roast Coffee Beans - 2 Pound Bag - 100% Whole Arabica Beans - Grind at Home, Brew How You Like

Sourced from South America, these coffee beans bring you the classic tasting coffee with hints of sweetness and the smoothness you crave.

Key Features:
  • Medium roast
  • Caffeinated
  • Kosher certified

The company holds true to its name by giving you really good coffee with each brew. This product has that dark, robust flavor a lot of coffee-drinkers love without any unpleasant bitterness.

However, the beans are a little oily and might be difficult to grind.

  • Perfect flavor
  • Affordable
  • Might taste too bitter to some
  • Oily, hard-to-grind beans

If you’re a daily coffee drinker and need good-tasting coffee at an affordable price, look no further than the Real Good Coffee Co. This also makes it our top choice!

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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What are the most important details to look for when buying beans?

Some things to consider before you pick your beans are:

  • Level of roast
  • Whether it’s caffeinated or not
  • Flavor notes
  • Type of beans
  • Crema

Are espresso beans and coffee beans the same?

In theory, yes, they’re both coffee beans. However, espresso beans are roasted and brewed differently for that strong espresso flavor.

Do espresso beans have more caffeine?

Not necessarily. The difference lies in how they’re processed before they’re packaged and to us.

Do you always need espresso beans to make espresso?

No, you don’t. You can use regular coffee beans for espresso, especially dark roasted coffee beans that are ground to the perfect size.


The main difference between espresso beans and coffee beans lies not in the content of the beans or where they originate but in the way they’re roasted and ground before being brewed.

That being said, getting the perfect taste is not something we as coffee lovers can compromise on, am I right? While taste is subjective, you need to experiment with different types of grind, beans, and other variables to make sure you get the best cup of joe. Making the perfect cup of coffee goes beyond the type of beans you get.

However, getting the right type of beans is imperative to make sure you’re not getting something that’s too bold or too mild. Don’t be afraid of testing out a variety of beans to find what you like best.

Happy Brewing!