What The Heck Is Coffee?!

Welcome to the beginning of our new "What the Heck?!" series. When we asked what you wanted us to write about, a lot of people wanted to know more about the world of coffee and how to order it without sounding like an idiot. We figured that the best place to start is with the basics so we can work our way up to the more nuanced details. 

This post is all about the basics: 

-What is coffee?

-What is espresso?

-What makes the different roasts different?


Let's start with the coffee. We always think coffee is a good place to start!

Brewed coffee - there are many ways to brew coffee. No matter what method you prefer, you always need to start with grinding your coffee beans. Different brewing methods require different grinds. Your average home-brew coffee machine requires a medium grind where the coffee is still gritty but not too coarse. If you like french press coffee, your beans should be a coarser grind. Other methods like aeropress will want a finer grind resembling table salt. Once you’ve got your ground coffee, all you have to do is add hot water! A regular coffee machine is great because you can get all your stuff in there and walk away while it makes your magic bean juice for you. If you’re using a french press you add the water and wait a few minutes and then press the press. Making coffee can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can even make “cowboy coffee” by throwing some ground coffee and water in a pot and boil it until you think it looks ready if you’re desperate. What we do at SaraBella’s is the drip brew method which is the same as most home coffee makers, ours is just a lot bigger!

Espresso - espresso is similar to coffee because you still take your coffee beans and add water, but the process is a bit more complicated. Brewing espresso, also referred to as “pulling a shot,” requires very finely ground coffee that gets tamped in a portafilter and then hot, pressurized water gets forced through the grounds, resulting in a rich, creamy, strong shot of espresso. Espresso is the base of our fancier coffee drinks like lattes, mochas, americanos and cappuccinos. If you really need a jolt of energy, you can just drink the espresso without adding anything! (Warning: this may result in the coffee jitters)

So what’s the difference between a light roast and an espresso roast?


Light Roast - this one gets roasted for the least amount of time so the beans are actually lighter in colour. Light roast has less body and more acidity, but tends to have a more varied flavour profile. The lighter the roast, the more caffeine is present, so light roast is going to pack the most punch if you’re just looking for caffeine.

Medium Roast - this one gets roasted for a bit longer than the light roast resulting in a fuller bodied flavour and lower acidity. Medium roast has a more compressed flavour compared to the light roast, and a more pronounced bitterness. There is less caffeine in a medium roast than a light roast, but still more than a dark roast.

Dark Roast - this one gets roasted even longer which means you will taste more of a roasty flavour. Dark roast has a fuller body and a thicker, more oily taste. They also have less caffeine than the light and medium roasts, less acidity, and a more pronounced bitterness.

Espresso - this one gets roasted for the longest time so it has a toasted and deeper flavour. It gets a little confusing here. Espresso roast is darker so it has less caffeine per bean than all the others, but because of the way it is prepared and the ratio of beans to water it is more concentrated and you end up with about 6-10 times more caffeine in your drink. Espresso has a lot of body and

when prepared correctly it has the least amount of acidity.


We hope that this helps explain the differences between all the roasts and the methods of preparation. Now that you’re an expert on coffee vs. espresso you can follow along with our next few posts as we get into more detail about what makes all the different drinks different. Until then, feel free to ask us questions when you come in to order, we are happy to help you choose the perfect drink for your taste preferences!

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