Espresso Shots

Can You Use Regular Coffee in an Espresso Machine

A lot of people that use an espresso machine would like to know if they are able to use coffee beans that have been brewed in a regular coffee maker. The answer is: yes, you can!

But the right question to ask is : Will it brew a great tasing espresso?

You will be disappointed and probably frustrated if you use regular coffee beans that have not been roasted for espresso. So, its okay to use regular coffee beans in an espresso machine, once in a while, but for getting the best espresso shot get your coffee beans from a roaster that specializes in good quality coffee for making espresso

Let me explain in detail why regular coffee is not great for brewing a good shot of express

The Beans: Regular Coffee vs Espresso Coffee

Is espresso coffee the same as regular coffee?

Regular Coffee and Espresso Coffee have different composition of Arabica and Robusta Beans. Coffee beans that are produced for making regular coffee have a higher percentage of Robusta Beans than Arabica. The reason is for making a regular cup of coffee you need a strong, full bodied taste and robusta beans are used to achieve this.

So if you use regular beans in your espresso machine, it will be too strong and will not produce the right flavour profile when making an espresso shot.

The Chemistry Of Espresso Beans Vs Regular Coffee Beans

In a regular coffee maker, water is mixed with fresh ground coffee beans and the mixture is used to make a cup of coffee. In an espresso machine, water is pumped under high pressure, through an array of small holes called the “puck” or portafilter into the basket containing the fresh ground coffee beans.

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The water then forces all of the small particles in the espresso maker (coffee grounds) to be forced through these holes by increasing pressure from your pump. The tiny particles then hit the bottom of the conical metal filter at the bottom of your espresso maker and will pass through into your cup.

The pressure in a regular coffee maker is normally around 9 bars. Its okay to make coffee with regular coffee beans, but you wont get a true tasting espresso shot like what you get from a machine that has been specially designed for making great tasting espresso shots.

The Roasting: Espresso Coffee vs Regular Coffee

Is Espresso Roast coffee the same as espresso?

The chemistry of regular beans and espresso beans is totally different. Espresso beans are roasted for longer periods at higher temperatures compared to regular coffee beans which means they have a higher level of carbon dioxide and a lower percentage of water when brewing your espresso shot.

The longer you roast your espresso beans, the less moisture it will have. By having a low percentage of water content in the espresso coffee bean, will help the coffee oils to be released from the bean quicker when under pressure from your pump.

This is why espresso beans are made to have fewer of the water solubles as when brewing coffee in a regular coffee maker.

So, if you decide to use regular coffee in your espresso machine, you will not get a good tasting shot. The problem is that

The Grind: Drip Coffee vs Espresso Coffee

Regular Coffee is generally ground much coarser than Espresso Coffee. As a result, it will make an Espresso shot taste too watery and not have the right balance of flavours. The reason for this is that an espresso shot has lower water content than regular coffee. So you cant use the same grind size and roast time to get good tasting espresso shots in your machine as you would for making regular coffee

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Espresso Beans are ground generally in the range of 400 microns whereas regular coffee beans are ground in the range of 800-900 microns. Coarser grind means less flavour, more water and less body in the espresso shot.

One reason people might be tempted to use regular coffee beans is because it is cheaper to buy them from a regular coffee shop than to buy espresso beans specially for making great tasting shots. This is true but if you are serious about making espresso shots, it really is not worth settling for something that will taste “okay” because of the cheap price you paid.

What's the difference between drip grind and espresso grind?

Final Words

When using Regular Coffee for brewing espresso, you might get lucky and get an okay tasting shot once in a while. But if you are serious about making great tasting espresso shots, do yourself a favor and invest in getting the right beans for your espresso machine.

Did you try using regular coffee in espresso machine? What was your experience share in comments below

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