Can You Use Regular Coffee Grounds for Making Espresso

Espresso is a base for many coffee recipes, and people often wonder if regular coffee grounds can be used to make a nice warm cup of espresso.

Let’s find out.

Using Regular Coffee Grounds for Making Espresso

Coffee has a significant ratio of water in it, but the coffee grounds you use give it a pungent aroma and a strong taste.

Using the suitable grounds in the correct coffee-to-water ratio with your preferred machine will result in a great-tasting coffee.

Technically, you can use regular coffee grounds to make espresso, but would it produce tasty coffee? That’s another question.

Coffee grounds come in various types. Typically, espresso requires a darker roast than regular since the brew time is very short, and the machine needs something with a strong flavor.

Using a regular grind might result in any of these three things:

  • You will end up with a sour coffee
  • Coffee will have a bitter taste
  • Coffee will be weak or watery

Let’s explore the difference between regular coffee and Espresso.

Difference between Regular Coffee and Espresso

Firstly, you need to understand how regular coffee is different to know why it can’t be used for espresso:

The Roast

The roasting time is very important to consider because it can majorly affect the taste of your coffee. Regular coffee has a medium roast and is roasted for 10 to 15 minutes.

On the other hand, a darker variant is roasted for anywhere near 18 minutes. Hence, the flavors come through more strongly.

The roast also changes the appearance of the coffee bean. You will observe that a regular roast is a little yellowish to medium brown. Meanwhile, a coffee bean roasted longer is darker in shade. 

The Grind Type

When making regular coffee, the grind you use is usually medium. That said, it does depend on your coffee preparation method and the machine you are using.

When using an espresso machine, you require a fine grind.

This is because the water comes in contact with the coffee for a very short time, and it must extract all the flavor from it, which is impossible otherwise.       

Brewing Time

Regular coffee is made using different methods. The most popular being the drip, pour over, and French Press. Again, brewing can take up to 8 minutes, depending on the technique.

At the same time, an espresso shot is brewed for as little as 30 seconds since a very hot temperature of the water is used.

Brewing Temperature

You can brew regular coffee at 85℃ to 91℃. In comparison, espresso requires a higher brewing temperature since the coffee is only in contact for a few seconds.

Hence, the water needs to be scalding hot, typically at 88℃ to 94℃.

Caffeine Content

Strangely there is also a difference between the caffeine that both types contain. Since stronger coffee is used for espresso, it naturally has more caffeine.

By calculations, 100ml of espresso has 100mg of caffeine while a regular coffee has 80mg per the same 100ml.

At the same time, we must also consider the quantity of both coffees for typical consumption.

A single shot of espresso is only 30ml. On the other hand, a regular coffee cup is about 250ml, making the regular coffee stronger.


With so many differences, it is evident that the two can’t taste the same. Espresso has stronger flavors which display themselves in the drink. It is also richer. Regular coffee may not be light, but it is aromatic and flavorful.

Can You Use Pre-ground Coffee in an Espresso Machine?

Another question a lot of people ask is if pre-ground regular coffee can be used in an espresso machine. 

Since pre-ground coffee is meant to be filtered, it is not as refined as the espresso machine requires. In fact, it is usually more coarse and uneven, which can result in bad-tasting coffee.

Water runs over a specific amount of time in an espresso machine. Not using the proper grind will mean the coffee produced will lack flavor because the water did not pass through smoothly, and there was resistance because of the coarse coffee beans.

Hence, pick the correct variant so the espresso machine can produce a great-tasting cup of Joe.

Can You Grind Your Own Coffee Beans?

The coffee bean used for any type of coffee comes from the same plant. The only different thing is the way it is roasted.

However, it is acceptable to use a lighter roast if that is the taste you prefer or if you have accidentally bought the wrong variant.

That said, what’s important is to check the grind. If it is a fine grind, the roast does not matter as long as you like the taste.

Furthermore, if you have a burr grinder, you can make your own grind and use it for espresso.

Although you must remember that if you are looking for the same taste as espresso, you must use a darker roast. Whether you buy it from the store or grind it at home is your call.

Many people do not like the bitter taste of the darker roast. If you also feel the same way but still want an espresso, grinding a lighter roast at home for using them in an espresso machine is your best bet.

You can also buy packaged coffee beans labeled “espresso” or “espresso roast” and grind them fresh right before you prepare your espresso.

Packaged pre-ground coffee goes stale very quickly once opened. Hence, many coffee enthusiasts like to grind fresh coffee at home before indulging in their Java.   

Remember to grind your beans into a fine powder. The grind should be even; otherwise, your coffee will either end up weak or watery.  

Also, not all grinders will give you the best results for a fine grind. You must choose a suitable machine if you wish to grind your own coffee.

Can You Use Espresso Grind Be Used in a Regular Coffee Maker?

We have the answer to the first question. Now let’s look at the other side of the coin and see if an espresso grind can be used in a regular coffee maker.

The answer is yes, but it is complicated.

Since espresso beans are roasted longer, they release their oils in the process. This is also why they appear shinier than regular coffee grounds.

So the oil and fine grounds might make your coffee taste overly bitter if you use it in a regular coffee machine.

This shows that you can’t use the same ratio you would use with an espresso machine. A few tries will help you find your ratio and the right balance for your morning cup of coffee.

The Final Word

In this article, we helped you discover the what and why of using regular coffee grounds to make espresso.

An espresso is supposed to taste stronger, denser, and rich. High power hot water pressure is used to extract coffee in a short time to secure the flavor profile.

Hence, it requires finer ground of dark roasted coffee to make the perfect cup of coffee. Typically, you can use regular coffee grounds for making espresso.

That said, it is essential to note that it will not taste the same as espresso. So, if you want your espresso to taste lighter, you can use regular coffee grounds as long as they are finely ground.