Well, it depends.
If you are trying to find an inexpensive way to make espresso, then the answer would be yes - you can use regular coffee beans. However, if your goal is a richer tasting espresso using higher quality coffee beans, then no - regular coffee beans will not have the same desired effect. It is because of this reason that baristas or professional chefs opt for high quality Ethiopian beans or Arabica pods instead of milder flavored Robusta beans when making their espresso brews.
For an espresso the coffee beans will need to be ground to a finer grind if they are going into a porta-filter machine designed for espresso, as this type of machine extracts more flavor from the bean than does drip or café-style brewing methods. It's also important that the beans were freshly roasted and ground rather than those which have been sitting on the shelf for months.