Regular Drip Coffee vs Espresso: The Differences Explained

Regular Drip Coffee is quick and convenient. It’s what most of us tend to drink in our day-to-day lives, but have you ever wondered how it’s different from other coffee, like espresso? Both methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. However, espresso is something more commonly enjoyed in social areas like cafes, rather than at home first thing in the morning.

Both of these brewing methods are quite different, and no doubt there will likely be some things you didn’t know about them. Gamble Bay Coffee is a company dedicated to providing all sorts of information about coffee to you so you can enjoy every cup to its fullest.

So, with that being said, let’s look at how these two brewing methods are different and why the way you brew really matters.

How are Regular Drip Coffee and Espresso Coffee Different?Espresso Coffee Vs Drip Coffee

Before we go in-depth into each of the processes individually, let’s quickly go over how they are different from one another.

  • Espresso coffee uses a much more finely ground coffee than regular drip coffee. Drip coffee tends to be made either from the beans themselves, or thick ground coffee.
  • Espresso coffee can generally be made much quicker than regular drip coffee because of the way it is brewed. However, home espresso machines are quite expensive compared to the average drip coffee machine, which can make up for the time the drip coffee takes to brew.
  • Drip coffee generally won’t be as thick as espresso. Espresso generally has a more syrup-like consistency which makes the feel of it quite different.
  • Espresso is a coffee designed for a social experience. It’s a coffee to be enjoyed in the company of friends, early in the morning at your local cafe.
  • Espresso requires a special machine and generally some skill to operate. Although it has become more accessible with the introduction of home espresso machines, these machines are rather expensive.

Both of these coffees are in a balancing act. Espresso can be made quickly, but you generally have to go to a cafe to obtain it, while drip coffee can be made right from home. Having an espresso machine, like the Cuisinart EM-200  or the Mr. Coffee ECMP1000, at home can remedy this, but, as I said, these machines are expensive.

Now we’ll take an individual look at these methods.

 Is Espresso Better Than Regular Drip Coffee?Espresso Coffee

The answer to this is an obvious yes. Espresso has many benefits to it that makes it much better than Drip Coffee. For one thing, espresso doesn’t use paper filters like most regular drip coffee machines do. This allows many of the oils and minerals that are naturally present to flow into the coffee and makes espresso much healthier than drip coffee.

Espresso requires no specific roast level or bean blend. Most bean blends taste different, or are roasted in different ways, and everyone has different tastes. You can find our thoughts on some of the best bean blends, here. The Third Wave of Coffee gave us companies like Starbucks and others which have brought about several different takes on the regular Espresso. Nowadays, you can have an espresso made in almost any way you can imagine.

Espresso has become widely popular, and for most people that live near cafes, it is their go-to morning coffee. It takes much less time to go grab a cup of espresso from your local barista than it does to wait for a drip coffee machine to brew; however, some drip machines can offset this in certain ways.

So for many people, the availability of espresso and the health benefits it can provide will be enough to convince them to prefer an espresso on their next morning routine rather than drip coffee.

That said, not everyone may live close enough to a cafe or have the funds to spend on an espresso machine. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there are ways to get great taste and enjoyment out of regular coffee.

Is Drip Coffee Better Than Espresso Coffee?Drip Coffee

Without a doubt, the answer is no. Drip Coffee just doesn’t have the same benefits as Espresso.

Now, most of us do have a drip coffee maker, I do, I use it on occasions where I’d rather stay at home than go to a cafe. Drip coffee can be given personal touches that really improve the taste and the overall experience of it. Some more expensive machines you can find have different filtering methods that get it closer to having the benefits of espressos and things of the like.

One of the bright sides of drip coffee is the machines are generally inexpensive, and among some of the more expensive machines are those that can help you save a lot of time. There are machines that have internal clocks you can set to start brewing coffee in the morning, preventing the hassle of having to wait when you wake up. As soon as you get up you can go enjoy a cup of coffee with little to no hassle.

That is the big benefit to drip coffee. Most of their machines have little conveniences like this that make them more and more tempting. They definitely save a lot of time, if you’re in a pinch.

If you are looking into getting a good drip machine, I would recommend a coffee maker like this BESTEK one, it is inexpensive and has the programmable timer, as I mentioned earlier.

So Which Method is best?Drip Coffee Vs Espresso

Overall, espresso really takes the cake.( I love a slice of cake with my coffee.) Although drip coffee is convenient, and at times useful for those late mornings, nothing can beat having a fresh cup of espresso with foam on top.

At the end of the day, I think we all love our coffee. Espresso, regular coffee or otherwise. It gives us the energy to get through the day. Drip coffee is a common thing in every household and it is typically what most of us will choose.

If you have the funds to drop on a home espresso machine, it would definitely be worth the investment. It can save a lot of time and being able to enjoy espresso in the comfort of your own home can make it all the sweeter. If you have the time in the mornings, I would also recommend checking out a French press, they are cheaper than espresso machines, and, at the cost of some time, you can make a cup of coffee just as good as an espresso, if not better.

But those mornings when you can go sit at the cafe with a friend and enjoy a hot cup of Espresso are what really makes coffee universally enjoyable.

What’s The Difference Between Coffee And Espresso

Difference Between Coffee And EspressoIt might surprise you that the difference between coffee and espresso is the brewing method.

Some people might think that it is the darkness of the roast level or even the origin of the beans. And while they are partially correct, the reality is that any coffee bean can be used for either drip coffee or espresso.

Because the brewing process is different, there are specific requirements for each of the brews that each requires.

We will go through all the differences that can make the coffee bean better suited for one or the other. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.

The Brewing Process

How the coffee is prepared is the essential difference between coffee and espresso.

Coffee is brewed as an immersion, allowing the coffee to mix with the water at about 200 degrees F in the filter before dripping through into the pot, whether it is through an automatic drip machine, a pour over, or even french press.

Espresso uses a higher water temperature, almost boiling, and high pressure to force the water through the coffee in a matter of seconds.

Because of this difference, there are a few variables that make espresso different than brewed or drip coffee.

The Beans

There are two types of coffee beans in the world, Arabica, and Robusta.

Arabica beans have more flavors of origin and less caffeine than Robusta beans.

Robusta beans are stronger tasting and often bitter due to the higher caffeine content as caffeine carries a bitter flavor. One thing that Robusta beans are excellent for though is producing fantastic crema. Crema is the caramel colored foam that sits atop freshly brewed espresso.Coffee Cause Acid Reflux

Often roasters will blend Arabica with Robusta to get a nice blend of both with the ability to produce a good crema. Often the Robusta beans overpower the flavors of the Arabica beans which can lead to a muddled taste.

The roast level is another difference between the two beverages as most espresso beans are roasted darker than most drip blends. However, as coffee knowledge has grown, now even medium or light roasts are used for espresso with astonishing results.

Single origin coffee that would typically be roasted for drip coffee or pour overs can be prepared for espresso. The flavors of origin are much more concentrated in the shot of espresso. Your best chance to get the full flavor profile of the bean is in an espresso shot.

Many roasters label their coffees for espresso or drip because it is their opinion that particular roast’s flavors are accentuated and will shine more with that specific brewing method. Just because the bag is labeled espresso doesn’t mean that you have to have an espresso machine at home to brew it though.

Any espresso blend can be used for brewed coffee, and any bean that is used in drip coffee can be used for espresso.

The Grind

One of the most significant differences in the brewing process is the actual grind requirements of each method.

Drip coffee requires a medium coarse grind so that water can flow freely through the filter and the coffee grounds to not escape the filter and cause sediment to fall into the cup. Drip coffee relies on the amount of time in the infusion to extract the flavors of the coffee.

Espresso beans need to be ground extremely fine so that when they are tightly packed into the filter of the espresso machine, the water can still come through the filter. The beans, when packed correctly actually form their own filter for the coffee, allowing a highly concentrated extract to be the end result.

Grind consistency is a crucial variable to understand even when dealing with various ways to brew coffee. Pour overs demand a finer grind than the French press, and automatic drip machines require a finer grind than pour overs. This article is an excellent resource for grinding your coffee.

The Caffeine Content

The longer the coffee has contact with the water, the more caffeine will make it to the cup. This is why espresso has less caffeine, 40 to 75 mg per shot, and an 8 oz brewed coffee has between 80 and 185 mg per cup.

Espresso will, of course, catch up with coffee if you are doubling up shots in your drink. Espresso is also meant to be drunk quickly while brewed coffee is to be enjoyed over a longer period.

If the espresso beans have more Robusta in them, the caffeine content will be higher than beans made up of primarily Arabica.

Difference in Taste

Espresso will naturally have a fuller flavored taste with a thicker body because it is a highly concentrated extraction. A well-extracted espresso shot should offer a well-balanced taste between sweet and bitter.

The flavors of origin from the natural chemical makeup of the beans are more concentrated in a cup of espresso than in brewed coffee.

Because the flavors originate from these chemicals, they are naturally highlighted with the addition of steamed milk. The fat in the milk blends with these chemical compounds and accentuates and even softens and sweetens the intense flavors.

Brewed coffee is lighter and less concentrated than espresso. The difference can be compared to a fruit tea versus a spoonful of fruit jam. The same flavors are there, just not as concentrated.

Now You Know

Espresso and coffee offer something for everyone to enjoy. It all depends on how you like your coffee. Strong, bold flavor in a little package or a hot cup of coffee to enjoy and savor.

So now when you are in the store looking to buy coffee, you will know that it is not the name on the bag that makes espresso different than a drip blend, it is the process.

Your personal preference and experimentation will determine which kind of coffee is better suited to your own taste and brew methods. Feel free to try different coffees; you may find a new favorite drip coffee with an espresso name on the bag.

In the end, the two drinks are essentially a variation of the same beverage; descended from the same bean, enjoyed in entirely different ways.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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