Coffee vs. Espresso

During a typical day at work I get questions from customers about the taste of different coffees, or suggestions on something new to try. I am always happy to help make a new discovery for each person. They get excited to try something new that they enjoy, and I am happy to have been part of their day. One common question that is difficult to answer is about the differences between espresso, and regular coffee.


Drip coffee is brewed in a machine, typically. There are other forms of making coffee. French pressing, cold brewing and pour overs are just a few ways of making your daily dose. Ground coffee beans are placed in the paper filter of the machine, then it starts to pour hot water through. The water picks up the flavors and caffeine from the grounds as it drips through the grounds. It takes a few minutes for the brewing to finish. Once your coffee is brewed it will be good for up to a few hours. Some may argue that the flavors start to change after an hour, so it is best to make a new batch if it has been sitting out for that long. The average serving size of a cup of coffee can vary, but it is usually 8 ounces.

Photo By: Porsche Brosseau (Drip Coffee)

Espresso is made much differently. It is tightly compressed and more finely ground. The machine compacts the grounds tightly, so the water will not create a hole in the middle of the grounds as it pours through. It takes about 15 to 20 seconds for a shot of espresso to pull through. The espresso machine typically produces one to two shots at a time. The espresso shots can be served alone if desired. Usually the shots are the base for espresso drinks like lattes and mochas. Unlike drip coffee, espresso shots must be consumed or mixed quickly. The espresso shot has three parts. The first is the heart; it is the darkest, and at the bottom of the shot glass. Above the heart, is the body, which is the biggest part. Finally, the top frothy part, is the crema. After 10 seconds the three distinct parts turn black and the shot dies. This is where the taste of a drink will be determined. If the shots of a latte sit too long, then the drink will taste terrible.

Photo By: Catie Rhodes (Espresso Shots)

Compared to a serving size of coffee, a serving size of espresso contains more caffeine per ounce. One ounce of espresso, which also equals one serving size, contains 30 to 50 milligrams of caffeine. An ounce of coffee only contains 8 to 15 milligrams of caffeine. Both contain magnesium, calcium and potassium which is why they give us an energy boost. Either drink will wake you up in the morning and help you accomplish your daily tasks. The only way to know which is better, is to try them and be the judge yourself. As for myself, I love to start the day with drip coffee and treat myself with an espresso drink when I want to relax.


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