A Comprehensive Guide to the Difference Between Espresso and Coffee

15 min read NOV 05, 2023

While espresso and coffee use the same beans, their differences lie in the grinding and brewing processes. It means that all espresso is coffee, but not all coffee is espresso. As a coffee lover, you may feel hesitant to ask questions that seem basic. But it's important to understand the meanings behind coffee terms. There's no shame in seeking clarification; they're here to help. So go ahead and ask any coffee-related questions you may have.

You're not alone if you're wondering about the difference between coffee and espresso. It's a question that many people find confusing. But fear not; they're here to provide the answers you seek. The distinction between these two popular beverages is worth exploring, so let's dive right in.


Certainly! Coffee is the liquid extracted from the bean, not defined by the preparation method. It means that, technically speaking, it can be considered coffee. A perfectly good cup of espresso can be obtained using a specific preparation of robusta or arabica coffee beans.

Espresso is not a distinct variety of coffee beans, although roasters may have a unique process for preparing beans specifically for espresso. Interestingly, roasters may utilize high-quality robusta beans to add extra caffeine. Typically, espresso beans are subjected to longer and darker roasting than those intended for drip coffee.

Are you wondering if you can use espresso beans for coffee or make espresso with regular coffee beans? The answer is yes! Ensure you grind the regular coffee beans finely and use a dark roast for optimal flavor. On the other hand, if you have "espresso beans," they will do just fine in your drip coffee maker, even if they are coarsely grounded.



Espresso vs. coffee: what's the difference? It comes down to one thing - the brewing method. Other methods of brewing coffee take time as hot water slowly filters through the grounds. With espresso, it's different. A unique brewing method delivers coffee directly to your cup, eliminating the wait and delivering a fresh, bold taste.

Espresso machines pressurize near-boiling water through final ground coffee beans. This method yields an aromatic, rich, and caffeine packed shot of coffee in less than thirty seconds, a true testament to the art of coffee-making.

While a fancy machine is not a requirement, it does make espresso preparation easier and more precise. However, learning how to make espresso without an espresso machine is still an option. It's important to keep in mind that this requires additional work on your part.

While coffee and espresso brewing methods differ in pressure, they both rely on one crucial factor: the brewing temperature. The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring a delicious cup every time.

If the temperature is too low, the quality of your beverage will suffer, leaving you with a lackluster taste. On the other hand, if the temperature is too high, your coffee or espresso risks being burned - in which case, extraction will be the least of your worries.


You might be wondering if espresso tastes different from coffee. Well, the answer is yes! A shot of espresso has a bolder flavor than a mug of drip brew. It is because espresso is not made with a filter, which means none of the flavor-filled oils are lost. On the other hand, drip coffee is less intense. So, if you want the bold taste or the milder flavor of drip coffee, it's all a matter of personal preference.


The lever of an espresso machine is the key to unlocking pure coffee magic. The high pressure not only ensures fast brewing but also facilitates the development of creamy foam and disperses the rich coffee oils into the final espresso shot, imbuing it with exceptional flavor.

Filtered coffee depends on gravity to extract the flavor from the ground beans. The Moka pot and French press rely on atmospheric pressure alone, which is not enough to bring out the full potential of your coffee.

Most espresso machines are set to default at nine bars, which roughly equal 130 pounds per square inch (PSI). To put this figure into perspective, optimal espresso pressure can be experienced only by diving almost 300 feet deep in the ocean.


The size of the coffee grounds is a crucial factor to consider after applying the right pressure. They recommend using medium, fresh ground beans for brewing coffee with a drip filter or percolator. If you're using a French press, adjusting your grinder to produce coarse grounds is best. It ensures a stability between releasing delicious coffee taste and avoiding wastage or dissolving the particles. When the grind is too fine, it can cause over-saturation and make your coffee bitter.

Espresso is a unique beast. The quality of the coffee cake, or the coffee bed, determines how good the espresso will be. By reducing the grind size, you expose more of the bean's surface area to water, which leads to better extraction. It allows for more efficient brewing during the short infusion process.

If the coffee grounds are too fine, they can obstruct or reduce the brewing rate. It happens because when the coffee bed is immersed in water, it swells due to pressure and the development of insoluble sugar-based carbohydrates that occur during the roast.


Espresso and coffee differ in their serving sizes. While a cup of coffee is typically 8 ounces, an espresso shot is only one ounce. It is because espresso is more concentrated and thicker than regular brewed coffee, producing a bolder taste. In this case, less is certainly more.


If you're Italian or an espresso lover, you're familiar with the classic look of an espresso shot. This rich, dark brew is typically served in a modest China cup that can barely hold 50 milliliters (roughly 1.6 ounces) and is crowned with a luscious layer of velvety crema, the holy grail of coffee foam when prepared correctly.


The sight of a fluffy, creamy foam atop an espresso shot is a telltale sign of an expertly extracted brew. When water is pressurized and forced through coffee grounds, chemical reactions occur, resulting in the hallmark crema.

  • As the hot water flows through the coffee, the delicate oils gracefully combine, creating a harmonious and flavorful blend.
  • When exposed to pressure, the bean degasses, allowing the carbon dioxide trapped during roasting to escape.
  • When coffee cake is introduced to water, bicarbonate ions present in the water undergo a chemical reaction due to the sudden change in pH, resulting in a reaction.
  • The rapid transition from a high-pressure machine to a low-pressure cup causes carbon dioxide to rupture the espresso cell walls and effervesce.

Espresso fans know that the top layer of a shot results from multiple forces working in unison. This layer, known as the crema, is a thing of beauty. Lasting for about 40 minutes, assuming you can resist the temptation to drink it immediately, an espresso shot is meant to be "expressed" and enjoyed without delay.


When prepared correctly, the espresso beneath the crema boasts a distinct and indulgent flavor with a velvety mouthfeel and a fragrant aroma. Due to the short water exposure, this brewing method extracts less acid while retaining 60-70% of the caffeine content, producing a final cup that is both smooth and energizing.

Despite taking only 30 seconds to brew, an espresso machine still yields a significant caffeine content while preserving volatile and aromatic coffee oils absent in regular coffee.


If you're intrigued by everything we've discussed espresso so far, you might be curious about where to find a quality bag of beans that's perfect for making a delicious cup of espresso.


Atlas Coffee Club is a top recommendation for finding what you're looking for. This coffee company offers many options from various countries, perfect for espresso enthusiasts. An extensive bean collection gives you access to a diverse assortment of coffee blends.

Atlas Coffee Club roasts every batch to perfection for espresso. The coffee company also offers a variety of grind options, including espresso, pour-over, French press, cold brew, Aeropress, and drip. With so many options, Atlas Coffee Club is perfect for anyone looking to get the best coffee for their espresso.


Simply put, espresso is not bad for you. Much like black coffee, it has more benefits than drawbacks. At its core, espresso is rich in antioxidants and low in calories, making it a clear winner regarding health advantages.

Drinking espresso has a major perk, despite its alleged drawback: the caffeine. Though caffeine provides a coveted energy boost, it's important to remember that moderation is key. Drinking too much caffeine is not recommended.


Espresso isn't just for making your favorite coffee drinks but also has impressive health benefits. Studies indicate that it can improve long-term memory, concentration, and mood, and it's even been suggested that it may reduce your risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes. So, if you're looking for a delicious and healthy pick-me-up, consider reaching for a cup of espresso.

Moreover, it may surprise you that some people use espresso to enhance their workout performance. It means that the drink, in moderation, is not detrimental to one's health.

Compared to an average cup of drip coffee, some argue that espresso is a healthier option since it requires no filter, allowing it to retain more natural nutrients. However, consuming excessive quantities of these natural oils has been associated with high cholesterol levels. As such, it is advisable to monitor your unfiltered coffee intake.


Espresso enthusiasts, rejoice! Here's some great news: espresso is known for its low acidity. It is due to the longer roasting process of coffee beans, which decomposes the chlorogenic acids. Thus, any coffee bean roasted dark, like the ones used in espresso, will have lower acidity compared to those roasted lightly or medium.


While acidity concerns some coffee enthusiasts, others worry more about caffeine intake. Although a double shot is typically harmless, excessive intake may cause health problems. Caffeine can lead to insomnia, worsen anxiety, and elevate blood pressure. It's important to enjoy coffee in moderation and be mindful of the effects of caffeine on your body.

Looking on the bright side, a single shot of espresso has only 60 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, which is less than a quarter of the recommended daily intake. In comparison, 8 ounces of coffee (most people drink 12 ounces) contains 95 milligrams of caffeine, meaning you'll consume less than the morning drip coffee gang.

Espresso is often touted as having a higher concentration of caffeine, but the reality is that you're only getting a couple of ounces of it. Therefore, the amount of caffeine in espresso is typically lower than a full cup of drip coffee.

While consuming 5-7 shots of espresso in one go might make your heart race, drinking espresso in moderation can do more good than harm. Nevertheless, it's important to be mindful of how your body reacts to caffeine and adjust your intake accordingly.


The number of calories in espresso or coffee depends on your drink quantity. As espresso is more concentrated than coffee, it contains more calories. For instance, an eight-ounce serving of black coffee would have around two calories, while the same serving size of espresso would contain about twenty calories.

Typically, espresso is consumed in shots, with each shot being approximately one ounce or two calories. However, the caloric content of your espresso or coffee will depend on the quantity consumed and any additives.


Though coffee is already high in antioxidants, espresso seems to have a slight edge due to differences in grinding and brewing methods.

Espresso, being more concentrated than regular black coffee, retains more of the oils and minerals in the coffee beans. As a result, a shot of espresso contains more antioxidants than a normal cup of coffee, from which the antioxidants have been filtered out to a greater extent.


Let's begin by ordering an espresso. If you ask for an espresso at your local coffee shop, chances are you'll be served a double shot or doppio by default. However, some shops may ask if you prefer a single or double shot. If it's the only coffee you plan on having today, a double shot is the way to go.

No matter which option you choose, make sure your espresso is served in a ceramic demitasse cup. It should also come with a glass of water to cleanse your palate for the delicious coffee you're about to savor.

Moving on to the crema stage, a couple of options are available. While some prefer to skim off the tan foam for its acidic taste, others simply stir it in before sipping.

When it comes to enjoying your cup, don't forget to stir it. The dense, syrupy parts can settle at the bottom, while the lighter, brighter flavors stay at the top. If you want a well-rounded sip, gently stir to mix it all.

It's time to indulge in a sip of your favorite drink. Remember, it's not a shot of alcohol, so take it slow. Savor every moment as you sip, paying attention to the flavor, aroma, and aftertaste. Immerse yourself in the experience and make the most of it. Above all, allow yourself to enjoy the moment.


Nothing beats a skilled barista to truly appreciate the culture and taste of espresso. The art of brewing espresso is a delicate balance of science and creativity, even with machines that can replicate the perfect pressure and temperature.

While making great espresso at home is possible, nothing beats experiencing a skilled barista's brew. Visit your local coffee shop to better understand what you're aiming for. The difference in taste and quality will be worth it.

In addition to a basic cup of coffee, several coffee styles incorporate espresso as a key ingredient. It is unsurprising, considering that the espresso machine was invented in Italy, the birthplace of most coffee styles.


Baristas throughout the twentieth century developed several other ways to serve brewed espresso, often much more caffeinated than the regular Solo shot.

· Doppio: This espresso-based drink, essentially a double shot, packs a punch with 60 milliliters (or two ounces) of rich, intense flavor.

· Ristretto: This drink isn't a triple shot, contrary to the name. Instead, it's crafted from less than an ounce of concentrated espresso.

· Lungo: Similar to the doppio, this drink consists of two ounces of espresso, but it packs a stronger punch.

· Macchiato: It's not the oversized coffeehouse beverage that comes to mind. The traditional rendition comprises two ounces of brewed espresso topped with a hint of frothed milk.

· Café Noisette: This heavenly double shot is crafted with two ounces of richly brewed espresso and one ounce of frothy steamed milk, resulting in a divine balance of flavor and aroma.

Although chain coffee shops may offer various versions of espresso drinks, the true essence of this delicious coffee lies in these classic ways of preparation.


Indulging in a centuries-old coffee tradition is a unique experience. Understanding the significant difference between espresso and coffee is essential; as it helps you explore the wide variety of this specialty brew. Get ready to immerse yourself in the richness and wonder of coffee like never before.

Discover your local espresso offerings, and maybe you'll find an Italian-style espresso bar nearby. If there's nothing around, it's the perfect opportunity to experiment and find your perfect espresso brewing method.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between espresso and coffee?

The chief difference between espresso and coffee is how they are brewed. It is made by forcing a small amount of near-boiling water through ground coffee beans, while normal coffee is made by slowly pouring hot water over coarsely ground beans. This process results in espresso having a stronger flavor and more concentrated taste than regular coffee. Additionally, espresso usually contains more caffeine than regular coffee.

What is café noisette?

Café Noisette is a double shot of espresso mixed with one ounce of frozen milk. It produces a divine balance of flavor and aroma. It is often found in Italian-style espresso bars and coffee shops. It is also sometimes called a Café Au Lait or Café Latte.

What is the best way to enjoy espresso?

The best way to enjoy espresso is, however you like it. Drink it on its own if you want an intense flavor and concentration of caffeine, or add cream or sugar for a sweeter taste. You can also top your espresso with steamed milk or mix it with other drinks to create specialty coffee beverages like cappuccinos and lattes. Enjoying espresso is all about finding what works best for you.

What types of beans are used to make espresso?

Espresso is usually made with a blend of different types of coffee beans. These blends usually include a combination of darker-roasted and lighter-roasted beans, which can bring out distinct flavors when brewed as espresso. Many specialty coffee shops also offer single-origin espresso, using only one type of bean to create a unique flavor profile for their espresso drinks.

How is espresso different from regular coffee?

The biggest difference between espresso and regular coffee is how it is made. Espresso is created by forcing a small amount of hot water through finely. The result of this process is that espresso has a much stronger flavor and more concentrated taste than regular coffee and higher levels of caffeine. The process of making espresso also creates a crema, a layer of foam atop the espresso shot. This gives espresso its unique look and taste.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Espresso.


Drop a Comment

All comments are moderated before being published