Espresso vs. Coffee: What’s the Difference?

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Espresso and coffee are two popular caffeinated drinks with key differences. Read on to learn what sets them apart.

Photo of espresso on top and photo of coffee on the bottom.

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Espresso vs. Coffee

Whether you like espresso or coffee, there’s nothing better than starting the day with a fresh cup of your favorite caffeinated drink. Espresso and coffee are both tasty and energizing beverages, but there are key differences that set them apart.

Brewing Method

Espresso: Espresso is made using a high-pressure method that forces hot water through finely ground coffee. The pressure in an espresso machine creates flavor compounds that you can’t get with brewed coffee. It also creates a crema, the light brown froth that sits on top of an espresso. You never need a paper filter to brew espresso.

Coffee: Coffee is brewed using the gravity filter method where water flows through coffee slowly. It can take 3-5 minutes.

While brewed coffee is much lighter than espresso, you can make a stronger, espresso-style coffee by using a French press, Moka pot, or Aeropress. The French press uses the immersion brewing method and the Moka pot uses the percolation method. An Aeropress uses the pressure method, but not enough pressure to call the drink an espresso.

Beans

Espresso: Espresso beans are the same as coffee beans. There are different roast options for espresso beans, from decaf to blonde to extra dark roast. The beans must be finely ground to make espresso.

Coffee: Coffee beans can be any roast (light, medium, or dark). Coffee is made with medium-coarse grounds instead of the finely ground coffee used for espresso.

Consistency and Flavor

Espresso: Espresso is a highly-concentrated coffee drink that is creamy, syrupy, and intense in flavor.

Coffee: Coffee is much milder than espresso because it has a higher water content. The drink is usually enjoyed in larger quantities than espresso, like an 8 oz cup.

Caffeine Content

Espresso: 1 oz of espresso, or 1 espresso shot, usually contains about 63 mg. It has much more caffeine per ounce than regular coffee.

Coffee: 1 oz of coffee contains about 12 to 16 mg of caffeine, which means a regular 8 oz cup can contain 96 to 128 mg of caffeine.

What Is Espresso?

Espresso is a method of making concentrated coffee. An espresso machine forces hot water through finely ground coffee using pressure (around 9 bars, which is considered an optimal amount of pressure). More pressure than 9 bars can pull out unfavorable flavors in the coffee.

The espresso coffee drink that’s produced is called an espresso shot and the process of making the drink is called “pulling a shot.”

Some folks, especially in Italy, might not even say “espresso” but simply order a solo or doppio. This refers to a single or a double shot of espresso.

Here are a few of the most popular espresso drink recipes:

What Is Coffee?

Coffee is a popular caffeinated beverage brewed from roasted and ground coffee beans. Grabbing a cup of coffee from a local café or brewing a cup at home using a coffee machine is a relaxing daily ritual.

Coffee is brewed by pouring nearly boiling water over ground coffee beans and a paper filter. It is served hot or iced. You can have coffee black or customize it with your favorite milk, homemade syrups, and toppings.

Here are delicious and easy coffee recipes to make at home:

Questions You May Have

Can you make espresso from regular coffee?

You cannot make espresso from regular brewed coffee, but you can make espresso from regular coffee beans. To make espresso, you need to brew finely ground beans in an espresso machine.

How do you store espresso?

Brewed espresso is best enjoyed fresh. To store espresso beans, keep in min that whole espresso-roasted one will stay fresh longer than ground beans. Place them in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place to protect them from air, moisture, and sunlight.

Is espresso the same as black coffee?

Espresso is not the same as black coffee, but it can be considered a type of black coffee because it is brewed from coffee beans. Black coffee cannot be called espresso unless it is brewed by forcing hot water at high pressure through finely ground coffee beans.

Is espresso stronger than coffee?

It depends on how much of either beverage you drink. An ounce of espresso can contain 63 mg of caffeine, while a cup of coffee (8 oz) can contain up to 128 mg of caffeine.

Is espresso healthier than coffee?

While both drinks are rich in antioxidants, espresso is not necessarily healthier than coffee. You can make espresso or coffee healthier if you drink it black, without creams and sugars. Both drinks should be enjoyed in moderation because of the high caffeine content.

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