Coffee vs espresso, though similar, feature different qualities. While most coffee fans are aware that these beverages are different, few know what makes them so.
If you’re a lover of java looking for something a little bit different to add to your routine, you’ll want to take a look at espresso. Developed in Italy, this hyper potent and flavorful beverage takes java to the next level. But what exactly is it, and how does it compare to the coffee that you are used to?
In this article, espresso vs coffee, we take an in-depth look at that exact question to help you better understand the difference between coffee and espresso, the most popular drinks in the world.
The 4 Main Differences Between Espresso and Coffee
There are four main differences to look out for espresso vs coffee
Typically, espresso beans are a very dark roast. This means that they have been roasted for slightly longer than a medium roast bean. Ironically, dark roast beans traditionally have a marginally lower caffeine count than the lighter alternative (as some caffeine is lost in the cooking process).
However, espresso maintains it’s caffeine edge through potent beans and a brewing process that is conducive to extremely strong coffee.
Granted, this is all just a rule of thumb more than it is a law from the heavens. Regular coffee can still be a dark roast, and espresso can be made from lighter roasted beans as well.
To prepare espresso beans for their very unique brew, the beans are typically ground to be extremely fine. Comparatively, beans that have been set aside for a drip brew process tend to be ground a little bit coarser. Think of espresso consistency as being like sand, and drip brew consistency being a little more like gravel.
This is where the difference between drip brew and espresso really comes to light. We all more or less know how the drip brew system works. Grounds go in the filter, water is heated up in the reservoir, and dispersed through a drip head, where it rains down on the beans and comes at the other end as coffee.
Brewing espresso is a little different. Espresso machines work by forcing highly pressurized water that has been heated to the point of boiling through a “puck” of coffee grounds. The ensuing result is a thick, deliciously potent beverage.
And of course, the taste. Needless to say, there are almost endless variations of what traditional coffee and espresso can taste like. However, in general, you can count on espresso being extremely bold, thick, and strong.
By comparison, most drip-brew coffees tend to be a little bit thin and certainly significantly milder.
Espresso Vs Coffee Showdown
Which has more caffeine?
In terms of pure caffeine, espresso has an overwhelming edge over coffee. However, this may not be apparent at first glance. Indeed, with a little bit of research, you may find that a serving of coffee has 94 mg of caffeine, while a serving of espresso has just 54.
Dig a little deeper, though, and you realize that a serving of regular coffee is eight times the size of a serving of espresso. This makes all the difference. Pour enough espresso to fill your regular coffee cup, and you can expect to have the energy for days.
Is espresso stronger than coffee?
Espresso is definitely significantly stronger than coffee. Bear in mind that just one ounce of espresso has a caffeine content comparable to that of a full cup of coffee. Where someone to ingest a similar quantity of espresso, their heart would probably beat right out of their chest.
For safety’s sake, it is best that you strive for moderation and stick to those tiny little cups common to any espresso starter kit.
Why is espresso so much more expensive than regular coffee?
First, it may not be right to say that espresso is necessarily more expensive than regular coffee. As enthusiasts know, regular coffee can become very expensive, with even small quantities of beans costing hundreds of dollars (see kopi luwak).
However, it is accurate to say that entry-level espresso will cost more on average than entry-level coffee, especially when evaluated on a per ounce basis. Why the disparity?
For one thing, the manufacturing process for espresso tends to be more time consuming and labor-intensive than for regular coffee.
It’s also simply a specialty product. There is less espresso to go around, which means you may need to pay a little bit extra to get it.
Now You Know:
So, there you have it. It is not and has never been a matter of espresso vs. coffee. The two products are companions, cut from the same cloth, but intended to satisfy unique situations or tastes. The truth of the matter is that most people who love coffee will probably enjoy espresso from time to time, and of course, the reverse is true as well.
Indeed, the two beverages are often even combined in chest-bursting concoctions like the “red-eye.” For a truly satisfying experience, consider selecting your caffeinated beverage based on the situation you find yourself in. For example, coffee is an excellent way to wake up because it requires very little effort to brew and can be prepared the night before.
Espresso, on the other hand, is a little bit more effort-intensive but can serve as an elegant and enjoyable way to conclude a great meal, especially when taken with an outstanding dessert.
Ultimately though, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Drink the beverage of your choice when you want and how you want for the best possible results.