Espresso vs Coffee; It’s all about brewing

The history of coffee depicts a unique pattern on the world map, and the evolution of the coffee-making process shows an interesting perspective on our habits and ever-changing preferences.

With the introduction of the espresso machine, the coffee brewing method was brought to a whole new level. In 1948. Achille Gaggia, the Milanese coffee shop owner, invented the lever-driven machine, an invention that paved the way for the modern-day espresso coffee. 

Unlike the well-known recipe where hot water is simply poured over coffee grounds, espresso requires a slightly different method of preparation and this is the reason why the invention of the machine played such a crucial role in the whole process.

Machinery is important in the making of an Espresso

Its debut on the coffee market brought forward a unique generation of coffee drinks that brings something new to the table—literally speaking.

Espresso vs. drip coffee

There are two equally popular questions many want answered:

  • What is the difference between espresso and coffee?
  • Which one has more caffeine?

To answer the first question, one thing needs to be clarified first. The word coffee in the phrase usually refers to the term drip coffee or brewed coffee, or in other words, to the method where hot water is poured over coffee beans. Basically, both espresso and drip coffee are coffee beverages, they are just prepared with a different brewing technique.

Unlike the popular misconception that espresso also refers to a special kind of coffee beans, both drinks actually come from the same origin, commercially grown Arabica or Robusta beans.

It is the way they are grounded and treated that is different. In the case of drip coffee, water seeps through the coffee grounds and extracts both the flavour as well as chemicals such as caffeine. The process also requires the use of various filters to prevent grounds from accumulating in the cup.

While drip coffee doesn’t require any special machinery, it can be easily prepared manually or by using a coffee maker, espresso is a different case. Considering pressure is the most important aspect of the preparation, the espresso machine is a necessary piece of the chain.

Hot water is forced through extremely fine coffee grounds under the 8-10 bars of pressure, and the ordeal doesn’t last more than 35 seconds. The result is a more concentrated coffee shot that has a distinctive layer of crema on top and a well balanced, intensive taste. 

The answer to our second question is well explained by crunching some numbers, but to put it simply: drip coffee, or a brewed coffee, has more caffeine in a single cup.

Usually, an 8 oz cup contains around 85-185 mg of caffeine while a 1 oz espresso shot contains anywhere from 40 to 75 mg of caffeine. Although espresso coffee is a more concentrated beverage with a higher volume of caffeine, it is consumed in smaller amounts, so we still get more caffeine from drip coffee. 

When espresso coffee first appeared, it made a strong impression due to its intensive, rather bold flavour. Considering it is usually prepared with a blend of different beans, espresso is a well-balanced drink where sweetness slightly neutralizes acidity and bitterness. This is one of the reasons why espresso coffee is so versatile—it can be consumed as a single shot without any other ingredients while at the same time it can also serve as the basis for some creative coffee drinks like Ristretto, Cappuccino, Flat White, Caffe Latte, or Americano, to just name a few. They are all modern beverages that have quickly gained faithful followers all around the world.

Unlike espresso, drip coffee has a slightly milder aroma due to the different preparation method and many argue that filters, like paper ones, for example, remove a certain quantity of natural oils. Also, brewing takes around 8 minutes which may build up more tannic and phytic acids resulting in a slightly different flavour.

Still, drip coffee is an excellent alternative to a more intense espresso and it doesn’t require as much equipment for the preparation. 

In case you want to dig deeper into the world of cool coffee flavours, check out this chart that can lead you to a better understanding of what a cup of coffee has to offer. Prepare your favourite coffee drink, spin the wheel, and see what happens!

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