We all know espresso. It’s a means of brewing coffee with pressurized hot water and it rivals sliced bread for ‘the best thing ever’. Espresso was invented by clever Italians and has since become a staple of coffee culture around the world. Many of our favourite drinks start with espresso: cappuccino, café latte and the flat white, for starters.

The espresso method, which was originally conceived to give a quick lift to the spirits and the body, is characterized by its speed and efficiency—preparing a cup of espresso can take less than a minute.

Classic 1950's Cafe in Italy - Coast to Coast Coffee

Espresso gave rise to a slew of delicious drinks and a culture of coffee bars. Unlike our own coffee shops, Italian coffee bars are typically fast-paced places where people alight quickly and buzz right back out, no comfy seats or laptop sessions required.

‘Espresso beans’. Is that a thing?
Coffee packages at the grocery store are often marked ‘espresso’ or ‘drip’. Does this mean that there are beans grown specifically for espresso?

No! There is in fact no difference between espresso and other coffee beans. A bean is a bean is a bean. The difference is in the brew method and…marketing! Or rather, suggestions from the roaster. Consider ‘espresso’ or ‘drip’ as a recommendation that you can follow or ignore, as you wish. The roaster may have an idea of how best to bring out the flavour of the beans in question, but you’re the master of your own brew.

Coffee blends can be specifically curated for espresso, to add layers and complexity to the shot, for example our Eh’spresso blend, a medium roast. But single-origin beans can also make amazing espresso as well. It often comes down to personal preferences and tastes. 

Genesis of the espresso taste profile
Ask your average coffee drinker about the quintessential cup of espresso and they might describe a small cup of inky-black, super-concentrated, burnt-tasting liquid. Blech. And back in the dark ages of espresso, that wouldn’t be far off.

Espresso - Coast to Coast Coffee

The term ‘espresso bean’ came about before coffee farms perfected cultivation. Lesser-quality beans were destined for espresso for a very good reason. They weren’t the tastiest of beans. But if you roast a coffee bean enough, initial taste matters less. Dark roasting is a bit of an equalizer, especially for espresso.

A darker roast produces a smoky flavour profile with caramelized sugar notes, as is characteristic of many Italian roasts. It doesn’t pick up on all of the subtly-nuanced flavours that great beans impart. Then, when you put ground beans under pressure to make espresso, the flavour grows much more intense, like the difference between mint tea and a mint essential oil.

Voilà! A super-dark roast will yield an inky, burnt-tasting shot of coffee. Which some people love!

Groping towards the light
These days, specialty roasters procure high-quality beans for their espresso. No need to mask the taste! Roasters are experimenting with lighter roasts for espresso to enhance flavour and add complexity. Try a light-roasted espresso and discover a world of unique flavour notes.

Our Northern Light Espresso is a case in point. As the name suggests, this coffee shines bright. It’s an organic, Fair Trade blend light-roasted to create a flavour carefully positioned between bitter and sweet. You might notice a bright floral note with hints of chocolate and fruit.

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