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    Reading time: 4 Min

    Espresso vs coffee: what’s the difference?

    Some of the most common questions may feel embarrassing to ask out loud. If you’re a coffee newbie, you’re probably wondering what is the difference between coffee and espresso? Don’t be ashamed! There are plenty of coffee fanatics who don’t actually know, so we’ll delve right in. From brewing methods to how to drink them to the most defining characteristics, once you know the difference between espresso and coffee you can order more confidently and even make your own at home.

    What is the difference between coffee and espresso?

    It all comes down to the preparation. Both coffee and espresso involve beans and hot water. But espresso is brewed with more pressurised water that shoots through the ground coffee beans in under 30 seconds. This is different to making coffee, which relies on the slow filtering of hot water through the grounds.

    To be exact, the pressure to make coffee is simply gravity. But the pressure for an espresso is generally nine bars (130 psi). This is a significant amount, which is what gives espresso such an intense flavour in such a short amount of time. That’s why an espresso machine is ideal for making espresso. While there are various methods that don’t call for a specialised machine, a fully automatic espresso machine can ensure accuracy and overall better-quality espresso.  

    The size of the grounds is another difference between espresso vs coffee. Medium ground beans are the standard recommendation for brewing coffee in a drip filter. For an espresso, the coffee cake relies on a smaller grind to better expose the beans’ surface area to the water. But be sure that the grounds aren’t too fine, as this could clog the brew. In other words, you want to use grounds that are somewhere in between small and medium for an espresso.

    The chemistry of espresso versus coffee

    The anatomy of an espresso differs from a cup of coffee. A good shot of espresso is a dark brew topped with a thick layer of crema. The crema component is a big difference between espresso and coffee, as it is only found in a perfectly extracted espresso shot.

    The crema forms as a result of various reactions throughout the espresso-making process. Some of the factors that help create this delicious top layer include the exposure to pressure mixed with bicarbonate ions in the water, as well as the quick change from high-pressure to low-pressure.


    Coffee and espresso also differ in caffeine content. Despite the intense taste of espresso, one shot only contains about 63mg of caffeine, compared to an approximate 95mg in a 240ml cup of coffee. Of course, we don’t recommend drinking 240ml of espresso, as espresso has more caffeine per volume compared to coffee. But if you prefer a shot of espresso rather than a cup of coffee in the mornings or as a midday boost, you don’t have to fear the amount of caffeine. All things in moderation! [1]

    What you need

    How to drink coffee and espresso

    Any coffee aficionado knows that there is a certain way to drink espresso versus coffee. While there isn’t really a set protocol to drinking a cup of coffee, espresso is a bit different. If you go to any espresso bar or coffee shop, an espresso should be served in a ceramic cup. When your espresso arrives, stir in the crema to create a more balanced shot.

    Consider ordering a glass of water alongside your espresso to cleanse your palette. Otherwise, sip your espresso slowly and enjoy the rich, aromatic taste that this popular beverage boasts.

    Espresso vs coffee: equally delicious!

    Regardless of which drink you prefer, there’s no denying the delicious taste of both coffee and espresso. And once you understand the difference between espresso vs coffee you can decide which one best satisfies your caffeine cravings throughout the day. You can even try making the two at home by becoming your own barista and creating the perfect homemade espresso or perfect cup of coffee.

    Consider ordering a glass of water alongside your espresso to cleanse your palette. Otherwise, sip your espresso slowly and enjoy the rich, aromatic taste that this popular beverage boasts.



    [1] https://www.consumerreports.org/coffee/is-there-more-caffeine-in-espresso-than-in-coffee/

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