How is Espresso Roasted?
For most of us we have all been in a coffee shop and heard someone order an espresso. The employee took the order and an espresso shot was extracted from an espresso machine and given to the customer. That would scenario would certainly describe a drink we call an espresso.
What coffee was used to make the espresso drink? You guessed it, an espresso bean. Although, I must admit, I have seen on more than one occasion a coffee that in noway resembles an espresso bean being used to extract shoots. Considering espresso in the base for lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, and most blended drinks, I thought it might be worthwhile to discuss what an espresso bean really is.
Is the espresso bean a special type of coffee? No, an espresso bean really describes the roast more than the actual coffee bean used. Any coffee bean can be roasted on a espresso profile and be called an espresso. An espresso profile typically calls for a coffee bean to be roasted to a very high finished temperature. Some roasters will roast espresso as high as 460F to 470F. For most roasters, the profiles used for their other coffees finish at a much lower temperature than their espresso roast. An espresso is usually the longest and darkest roast most coffee roasters have on their profile list.
Why such a dark roast. When coffee beans are roasted on this type of profile, the cellular structure of the coffee bean is largely degraded, the bean will begin to omit small drops of oil, which for most many roasters would be a signal that the roast in complete. However, roast profiles are calling for earlier roasts and lighter finish temperatures, so this traditional approach to roasting espresso, might be more of an exception that it is a rule.
Roasting in this fashion produces a coffee bean that is very bold, can be bitter or have an slight edge, and a perhaps a smokey undertone. When properly extracted on a espresso machine, the espresso can have very heavy chocolate notes. For some, an espresso can be very enjoyable to drink as extracted just as espresso shots.
However, for most people, espresso is best enjoyed as the base for a mocha or a latte or perhaps that blended coffee drink they enjoy sipping on a hot day. And one last interesting fact about espresso, despite all its bold flavor, espresso actual has less caffeine then light roasted coffee beans.