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What is the difference between espresso vs coffee? If you love your morning cup of coffee or espresso but don’t know what sets them apart, you’ve come to the right place. 

We’ll take you through the difference between espresso and coffee. You can make the two coffee beverages at home or in your office with a coffee and espresso maker. 

If you prefer buying coffee, you will have confidence when placing your order. Let’s get started.

What Is Espresso  

espresso vs coffee
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A pressurized espresso machine is best for espresso brewing. The espresso machine applies high pressure to push hot water through the ground coffee. 

This machine uses a portafilter to hold the ground coffee. You need to tamp the ground coffee before you lock the portafilter on the espresso machine. 

Brewing water should be at the right temperature for maximum flavor extraction. Also, your espresso machine should have at least 9 bars of pressure. 

You can use espresso coffee beans or regular coffee for espresso brewing. An espresso machine can make double shots of espresso simultaneously.

What Is Coffee

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Coffee is a popular beverage. Most coffee lovers prefer drinking coffee in the morning as an energy boost from caffeine. You do not need barista skills to make coffee with an automatic coffee maker.

You can also use instant coffee. To make coffee with a coffee maker, you need a reusable or paper filter. 

With coffee, you can use medium or coarse ground coffee. But that will depend on the coffee maker that you intend to use. You can use a Moka pot, pour-over, AeroPress, or a drip coffee maker.

How Is Espresso Different Than Coffee?

The main difference between the two is the brewing method. From the definitions, you can tell that espresso vs coffee brewing is not the same. 

But the brewing method is not the only difference. Let’s find out more. 

Brewing method

An espresso machine has a minimum of 9 bars of pressure that push hot water through ground coffee for optimal flavor extraction. Espresso has a crema and is thicker than coffee. 

Since coffee brewing does not require applying pressure, it takes longer to brew. You can wait 3-5 minutes before the brewing is complete.

The brew time for espresso is about 25-30 seconds. High pressure pushes very hot water through the ground coffee, resulting in a perfect shot of espresso.  

The slow brewing process in coffee is a result of the filter paper. The process involves soaking the ground coffee with water and pushing coffee through the filter. 

You can use any coffee maker to make coffee, but that’s not the case with espresso. Coffee brewing relies on gravity, while espresso uses pressure. 

Espresso vs Coffee Beans

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Green coffee beans from the coffee cherries cannot brew espresso or coffee. They are roasted at different intervals, resulting in a light, medium, or dark roast

The difference between espresso vs coffee beans is the roast level. Dark roast coffee beans are preferred for espresso, while light, dark, and medium roast are for regular coffee. 

Light roast coffee has more acidity than dark roast coffee. A dark roast is best for milk-based coffee. When buying coffee, you can select from single-origin or blended coffee.

Coffee blends mix Robusta and Arabica coffee from different areas, resulting in coffee that is rich in flavor. A drawback to using coffee blends is that brands may use low-quality coffee. You can also use your preferred coffee beans to make espresso

Amount of Caffeine In Coffee Vs Espresso

There are two types of caffeine concentration in coffee – caffeinated coffee and decaf coffee. The amount of caffeine in espresso vs. coffee differs. 

Espresso is served in small-sized cups, approximately 1.5 ounces. The caffeine in espresso is about 60-80 mg. If you’re to drink coffee in an 8-ounce cup of coffee, you will have 70-140 mg of caffeine. 

Espresso has a higher caffeine concentration. With a single shot of espresso, you take less caffeine than in an 8-ounce cup of coffee. 

So, if you’re to drink an equal amount of coffee and espresso, you will have more caffeine in the espresso. But if you drink coffee from an 8-ounce cup, you will have more caffeine than in a single espresso cup. 

The amount of caffeine is affected by roasting, the origin of the coffee bean, the brewing method, and the extraction time. 

Espresso Vs Сoffee Taste

Espresso and coffee have different taste profiles. Espresso has a bold taste than coffee. If you prefer decaf, espresso can be strong, while drip coffee is less intense.

Finely ground coffee makes a bold shot of espresso, while medium and coarse coffee grounds make a less intense cup of coffee. 

Espresso Vs Coffee Roast Type

coffee roasting
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The roasting level for espresso vs coffee is different. A dark roast is best for espresso, and a medium roast for regular coffee. Dark roast coffee has a burnt flavor since the coffee beans roast for longer. 

During coffee roasting, medium roast coffee beans turn color to medium brown and rarely have an oily surface. They retain most of the flavors and have a balanced taste. 

Coffee beans with a dark roast have less caffeine, dark color, and an oily surface. They are roasted to a second crack and have low acidity. 

Grind Level

ground coffee in the portafilter
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After coffee roasting, the next step is to grind coffee for espresso and regular coffee. Espresso uses finely ground, while coffee uses coarse and medium size grounds.

An espresso machine does not use paper or reusable filters. It uses a portafilter, which is attached to the front part of the espresso maker. Also, you do not use extra-fine grounds for espresso.

Using extra-fine coffee leads to over-extraction and bitter espresso. This type of coffee is used for brewing Turkish coffee

A coffee maker uses a filter to hold the ground coffee for brewing. The coarse grind size setting is suitable for pour-over

Cup Size

The espresso cup is smaller than a coffee cup. It is best for serving espresso as it has more caffeine concentration. 

The comparison table below summarizes the difference between espresso vs coffee.

Brewing methodPressurized espresso machineDoes not use pressure to brew. It relies on gravity.
Grind sizeFinely ground coffeeMedium or coarse
Roast leveldarkLight, medium and dark
Brewing time25-30 secondsCouple of minutes
TasteboldLess intense

Espresso vs Coffee Brewing Methods

The brewing method for espresso is different from regular coffee. So, how do you brew coffee with a coffee maker and espresso with an espresso maker? 

Espresso brewing

Espresso machines are either semi-automatic, manual, or super-automatic. You can select one from brands like De’Longhi, Breville, Jura, or Mr. Coffee

Espresso machines make a single or double shot of espresso with a touch of a button. High-end espresso machines come with a coffee grinder. If you have a cheaper espresso maker, you need a coffee grinder for grinding the espresso beans

To start the brewing process, add coffee beans into a coffee grinder, select the fine grind settings, and begin grinding. Add the fine ground coffee to a portafilter, tamp and lock it in the espresso maker. 

Since the espresso maker has a bar pressure, it pushes hot water through the ground coffee in the portafilter. The brewing process takes about 25-30 seconds, and espresso is served in an espresso cup. 

Coffee Brewing

You can use your preferred coffee maker to make coffee at home, office, or during outdoor activities. The price of a coffee maker ranges from cheap to high-end. 

When buying a coffee maker, you must consider the size, price, and number of people to serve. Let’s look at how to make coffee with a pour-over coffee maker. 

A Chemex is an example of a pour-over. It uses medium-coarse ground coffee. Rinse the Chemex paper filter with hot water before you start brewing to remove the paper’s taste. 

Rinsing also helps to maintain a consistent brewing temperature. Add about 52 grams of medium-coarse ground coffee into the paper filter. 

Add 2 ounces of hot water into the ground coffee and leave it steep for a few seconds. When you’re making coffee with a Chemex, you add hot water in intervals. The brewing process takes several minutes. 

The method of brewing remains the main difference between coffee and espresso. Coffee brewing uses a filter, and it relies on gravity to brew, while espresso uses pressure.  

You can make cold brew coffee using cold water and ground coffee. For espresso, water must be at the right temperature for maximum extraction. 

Is Espresso Coffee The Same as Regular Coffee?

You do not need espresso beans for espresso brewing. You can finely grind your favorite coffee beans and use them to make espresso. The difference between espresso vs coffee beans is that espresso uses dark roast coffee

Would you want to try espresso beans or coffee beans? Here’s a list of the best choices to use.

Espresso beans

Starbucks Espresso Roast

Last update on 2023-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The espresso beans from Starbucks have a dark roast, are caffeinated, and are 100% Arabica. The taste notes of the coffee beans are caramel and rich molasses. 

Starbucks sources coffee beans from multiple regions. The recommended brewing methods are Moka pot, drip, coffee press, and pour-over. 

Lavazza Super Crema Coffee Beans

Last update on 2023-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Lavazza espresso beans are a blend of 60% Arabica and 40% Robusta coffee. They have an aromatic taste profile and are roasted to a medium-light roast level. 

The tasting notes for the coffee beans are brown sugar and roasted hazelnut. Lavazza recommends using the super crema whole beans with an espresso machine. 

Peet’s Coffee – Espresso Forte

Peet's Coffee, Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee - Espresso Forte 32 Ounce Bag

Last update on 2023-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The coffee beans are most suitable for espresso brewing. However, you can also use them for pour-over, cold brew, and french press. They are 100% Arabica coffee and have a dark roast. 

If you love espresso with a rich flavor and perfect crema, you may consider buying espresso beans from Peet’s Coffee. They have the taste of hazelnut, chocolate, and smooth crema. 

Coffee Beans

Illy Classico Whole Bean Coffee

Last update on 2023-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Illy coffee beans have a medium roast. They have delicate notes of caramel, jasmine, orange blossom, and lingering sweetness. The 100% Arabica coffee beans are packed in pressurized packaging to preserve flavor and aroma and retain optimal freshness. 

San Francisco Bay Whole Coffee Bean

Last update on 2023-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

San Francisco Bay coffee beans are Kosher certified and 100% Arabica. The coffee beans are hand-picked and grown at a high altitude. 

Coffee lovers have multiple flavors to select from, including decaf. The brand blends dark and medium roast coffee beans. San Francisco Bay coffee beans are naturally caffeinated.

Kicking Horse Coffee – Three Sisters

Last update on 2023-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Three Sisters coffee beans are certified by FairTrade and USDA organic. They are sourced from Indonesia, Central, and South America. 

The recommended brewing methods for the medium roast coffee beans are french press, drip, pour-over, and cold brew. They have a complex and well-rounded taste with notes of cocoa and stone fruit. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How is espresso different than coffee?

Coffee and espresso brewing methods are different. Espresso uses a pressurized espresso maker, while coffee does not. There are multiple methods of coffee brewing, including cold brew. 

Another difference is the amount of caffeine in coffee vs. espresso. Espresso has more caffeine than coffee. The taste also differs as espresso has a bold taste while coffee is less intense. 

Can you use regular coffee beans for espresso brewing?

Yes. The best coffee to use for espresso is dark roast coffee. 

Does the grind size for espresso and coffee differ?

Yes. Espresso coffee uses finely ground coffee, while medium and coarse grind size is best for coffee. However, espresso extracts faster than coffee. 

An espresso machine applies high pressure to push hot water through the finely ground coffee. 

Final Thoughts

The method of brewing remains the main difference between coffee and espresso. Espresso takes a shorter time to extract, while coffee takes more time. 

The difference in brewing time is because espresso machines apply pressure. Coffee relies on gravity to make a cup of joe, hence taking longer to brew. 

You can explore different coffee brewing methods to make your coffee. If you prefer espresso, you should invest in an espresso machine with a minimum of 9 bars of pressure. 

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