Espresso Roasting Guide – 6 Pro Tips

This article explores what is coffee roasting and provides some tips and tricks to get started.

To understand espresso roasting, you must first understand the basics of espresso coffee bean roasting.

Espresso coffee beans, like all types of beans, are grown and harvested. They start green and are not ready for use in making coffee until they’ve been through the process of espresso roasting.

Roasting changes their physical and chemical properties and gets them to the point they need to be for us to enjoy the type of coffee we’ve come to expect.

Coffee roasting is considered an art, and there are numerous variables involved. That’s why an espresso bean has different roast levels, like a light roast, medium roast, dark roast, or even an Italian roast.

The roast flavor will change depending on the brewing method. It isn’t easy to recreate the same process over and over. Roasting is a process that turns green coffee beans into dark brown beans that you can turn into ground coffee.

The coffee roast blend has that aroma and flavor we love.

What is Coffee Roasting
You can't beat freshly roasted and ground coffee

Different Types of Roasting

One of the most important variables in the beans’ roast profile is the length of time the beans are kept on the heat.

A lighter roast tends to be exposed to heat for the shortest period of time, as you’d expect. Dark roasts have longer exposure in the roasting process. Medium and medium-dark roasts fall somewhere in between.

In addition to these four basics roasts, you might also find:

  • City roast
  • Breakfast roast
  • Cinnamon roast
  • New England roast
  • American roast
  • Italian Roast

What is an Espresso Roast?

There is no specific level of roasting known as an espresso roast. Generally, people consider lighter roasts better for filtered coffee and darker roasts better for espresso. So a dark roast coffee might also be called an espresso roast.

But within dark roasts are several options, including Italian and French and Vienna. It isn’t as simple as just choosing a dark roast – or in some cases, it is. It all depends on our personal preference.

Additionally, espresso roast, or coffees considered ideal for making espresso, are roasted at a significantly lower temperature than filter roasted coffee. This makes for a more sour taste, which is why it’s so important to use a dark roast for espresso.

One of the other more significant issues when it comes to making espresso is the grind. You want a dark roast, but you also need to grind the beans much more finely than you would for other types of coffee.

Espresso machines use pressurized water, so the water and grounds are in contact for just a short time. Too fine of a grind makes the coffee bitter, and too coarse means you’ll get weak coffee.

How Do You Know a Good Espresso When You Taste It?

Knowing the difference between espresso roast and other roasts is one thing, but to really understand what’s going on, you need to know how to taste coffee. This gives you the ability to separate quality from less-than-quality coffees and also consider your own personal preferences.

How Do You Taste Coffee?

How Do You Taste Coffee
What do you taste in your coffee?

It seems simple enough – take a drink and see how it tastes to you. But it’s also important to be able to understand and describe what you are tasting. Is the coffee bitter? Fruity? Mild?

Think of coffee tasting similar to how you’d think of wine tasting. It can be as simple as “I like this, it tastes good,” but it can also be complex. The more you understand the coffee’s profile, the easier it will be to identify your likes and dislikes. It can also help you improve your coffee making technique.

It’s also important to know what you’re dealing with when it comes to brewing and extracting. You might have bought a high-quality espresso roasted bean, but if you don’t understand what you’re doing with it, you aren’t going to enjoy it as much as you could.

Knowing how to work with different types of roasts ensures you can determine what’s wrong if the coffee doesn’t turn out as you’d like, and it helps you make better choices about the coffee-making process from beginning to end.

Is High-Tech the Way to Go?

Maybe. But maybe not. There are plenty of expensive espresso machines on the market, and if you are the type who loves gadgets, investing in one can get you a great cup of coffee.

It would be best if you still made smart choices about the beans and roast, but a quality espresso machine can be the final step in creating a great product. Machines also make it easier to get a consistent cup of coffee, so you don’t need to worry about whether it will be possible to repeat your results in the future if you perfect your cup.

But a high-tech machine isn’t necessary. You can get a great cup of espresso without all of the bells and whistles.

If you’re more of a purist or don’t have a few hundred dollars to spend on a high-end machine, it’s easy enough to get a great result without it. But only if you make careful decisions up to the final point.

You need good beans, the right roast, and the right grind to get a final espresso product you love. It’s also important to consider the coffee maker you will use if you aren’t using an espresso machine because you have plenty of options. And not all of them are going to work with the fine ground of an espresso.

This is especially true for a French Press, which tends to do better with coarser grounds.

What Should You Know About Espresso Roasting?

An espresso roast is darker and tends to be less acidic. It has a more pronounced “burnt” flavor because it was exposed to heat longer. It has less caffeine and very little body. This means it might not have the same flavor level, but many people love the result of an espresso roast and how it tastes.

The Final Word on Espresso Roasting

When should you use an espresso roast?

Any time you want to make espresso.

If you plan to serve single servings of espressos in tiny one or two-ounce cups, choose an espresso roast. If you are making fancy coffee beverages, such as a latte or cappuccino or macchiato, you’ll also want an espresso roast.

And if you like a smooth cup of coffee in the morning to start your day, an espresso roast works just fine for this, too.

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