There’s nothing like a nice cup of coffee to start your day off. It tastes great, and that hit of caffeine is a shot to your system that you sometimes need first thing in the morning. Some days it’s hard to get started without your morning fix of strong coffee.
Coffee comes in a few variations and you may have found yourself wondering about the differences between some of them, such as the difference between drip coffee and espresso.
Basically, the main difference between Drip Coffee and Espresso is that while drip coffee is usually brewed in a coffee pot, espresso requires a pressurized espresso machine.
Espresso tends to be more concentrated with a stronger taste and is usually drunk from a shot cup rather than a mug. Here are some answers to a few other questions that you may have about the differences between drip coffee and espresso.
Differences Between Drip Coffee and Espresso
The main differences in how these are brewed are the granularity of the coffee and the amount of pressure used to brew it. Espresso is more finely ground and usually around 9 atmospheres of pressure ( can be higher) to force the hot water through the coffee.
This requires an espresso machine that can generate the right amount of pressure to make a good tasting espresso brew. The coffee strength is different for these two types of coffee too, with espresso having a stronger flavor that many people prefer.
Is Coffee The Same as Espresso?
Espresso is just a different type of coffee. It tends to use different coffee beans and different preparations and brewing practices, but you are still putting coffee into your body when you drink espresso.
The taste and the way you tend to drink espresso are different when compared to regular coffee though. Espresso is stronger and more concentrated and is usually served in a small shot cup, whereas normal coffee is usually drunk out of a coffee mug.
Espresso coffee usually ends up with three layers to it. The bottom layer is called the ‘Heart‘ and is usually a rich dark brown color with a bitter taste. The middle layer is called the ‘Body’ and is normally a caramel brown color.
The top layer is the ‘Crema’ and is a creamy layer that sits on top of the fluid. It usually has a sweet aromatic flavor. If you’ve ever visited a coffee shop where your espresso had some simple artwork on top then this was done by manipulating the crema layer.
In addition to being drunk directly, espresso is often used as the basis for other coffee types, such as cappuccino, macchiato, latte, long black, or ristretto.
The Strength of Espresso and Drip coffee
Espresso has more caffeine than drip coffee when the weight or fluid volume is compared. This isn’t the whole story though. Because of its strong taste, espresso is usually served in small shot cups while drip coffee is generally served in a standard coffee mug.
This means that you end up drinking far more drip coffee in a given serving compared to espresso. Depending on the size of the containers used and the brew of coffee you might find that an average serving of espresso has around eighty milligrams of caffeine compared to eighty to one hundred and twenty milligrams in a mug of coffee.
So if you are going by pure volume then espresso is definitely stronger. Once you factor in how much you actually drink on average then drip coffee will put more caffeine into your day.
Can you make espresso with regular coffee?
Espresso has different requirements compared to drip coffee, but you can generally make espresso with the same beans you use for regular coffee. Traditionally an espresso shot is made using a dark roast of beans that have been roasted for a longer period.
This can vary from region to region though, and many people prefer a different bean roast for their espresso. It really all depends on what you are used to.
The main points in making espresso are to use finely ground beans and force steam through the grind under pressure to release the full flavor of the espresso coffee. Achieving this can be an art and science that takes time to master though.
The Grind Size Of Espresso and Drip Coffee
Drip coffee is generally ground to a course size as the grindings are allowed to soak in hot water for several minutes, which breaks them up and lets the coffee brew drip through.
Espresso coffee uses much more finely ground coffee beans when compared to drip coffee. The beans are generally ground down to around the consistency of sugar or sand, which allows the pressure applied to them in an espresso machine to saturate them and filter out the espresso brew.
Without using a fine grind size you will probably end up extracting watery, sour, and imbalanced shots of espresso. This finer grind requires a higher pressure to properly extract the full flavor of the espresso brew in around half a minute.
Usually, the only coffee beans ground down finer than that used with espresso are the ones used for Turkish coffee. This is likely due to the need to extract a stronger and thicker brew of coffee.
Pressure for Brewing Espresso and Drip Coffee
Regular drip coffee is basically made using the same brewing pressure as the air that you breathe in on a regular basis. It doesn’t require any pressure vessel and the pot used to make the coffee is usually open to the outer atmosphere.
Because regular coffee is brewed at standard pressure it needs to brew for longer in order for the hot water to filter through the coffee beans and separate out the parts that go into making a good cup of coffee.
Espresso coffee requires an espresso machine to brew it. This machine forces the hot water through the coffee grindings with up to fifteen atmospheres of brewing pressure, which quickly separates out the coffee that you will drink and results in a much stronger brew in the process.
Generally, you need to let regular coffee brew for several minutes, but an espresso machine can make a cup of espresso in around half a minute.
Brewing Time of Espresso and Drip Coffee
It usually takes several minutes to brew a good cup of drip coffee. The coffee beans need time to soak in the hot water and separate the coffee brew. If you don’t give the coffee the right brewing time or don’t use the right water temperature then the resulting coffee can end up tasting watery, or sour and bitter.
Espresso coffee brews much faster due to the extreme pressure applied during the brewing process. Generally, you can brew your espresso in an espresso machine in around half a minute. This can be handy if you need a quick fix of caffeine. It also results in a stronger shot of coffee which can be great if you need a stronger taste to wake you up.
The Amount of Coffee Used in Espresso and Drip Coffee
Espresso and drip coffee use a similar amount of coffee beans. Espresso tends to create a more concentrated coffee which is normally drunk in smaller quantities, so you may go through fewer beans if you tend to savor the coffee rather than drinking large quantities of it.
Difference in Taste of Espresso and Drip Coffee
Normal coffee tends to be less caramelized than espresso coffee and is sweeter as a result. Espresso tends to have a more concentrated and intense flavor that is best savored slowly.
The taste you get from your espresso coffee can vary a lot depending on how it is prepared and what type of bean roast is used. Different regions will have differences in how they produce an espresso, so if you travel around a bit you may find a variety of different types of flavor produced by the locals.
The taste of espresso coffee can be fairly divisive with many people finding it too strong for their liking. You can find many opinions on whether espresso is better than regular coffee, but the only opinion that really matters is your own. If you like a higher coffee strength then espresso may be the right choice for you.
Espresso and Your health
Too much caffeine can be bad for your health, particularly if it interferes with your sleeping habits. Espresso coffee drunk in moderation can be beneficial however, as it contains anti-oxidants and is relatively low in calories. It is also believed to benefit long-term memory, mood, and concentration.
As with many things in life, drinking espresso coffee is fine as long as you don’t overdo it (like most things in life).
Over the years many different flavors of coffee have emerged and people have found a variety of ways to prepare and serve it. You can find a huge number of coffee brands that produce different types of coffee bean mixes, and coffee shops that serve all sorts of tasty brews.
You can also find many offshoots of espresso coffee that use it as a base to build on. Coffee plays a big role in modern life and helps power us through our days. So enjoy that delicious shot of espresso coffee while you think about all the things that go into making it taste as good as it does.