Espresso Vs Coffee: The Difference

Espresso Vs Coffee

Last Updated on February 19, 2023 by Timothy Byron Smith

Ever since espresso has become a popular beverage amongst the people, the coffee community has taken sides. Many have taken the tough call to select and stick to one: espresso vs coffee. But what’s the difference? Aren’t they both caffeinated drinks?

If you are a coffee enthusiast, you must know there is a considerable difference between these two. From the cup size to the aroma, from the brewing process to the type of roast, coffee and espresso stand poles apart. Which one’s better you ask?

Before we claim any one as the winner, we will walk you through the distinct qualities of each beverage and what would be the perfect choice for you. We have made sure to outline the difference between the both and how you can choose one.

Espresso Vs Coffee

Before we can get to the real showdown, you should know what an espresso actually is and how it differs from an original coffee. Before we get to the real hard facts, we will let you in on a fun fact. Coffee originated in Arabia while Espresso is an Italian-originated beverage.

What is Espresso?

First originated in Italy, espresso is a strong caffeinated beverage with a bitter yet less acidic flavor. With its distinct crema formed on the surface, the espresso is typically served and drank in a demitasse.

It is made by initially roasting beans and finely grinding them. Then, hot water is forced through the finely ground espresso to give concentrated coffee, commonly known as a shot.

The Difference Between Espresso & Coffee

The espresso, although considered a branch of coffee, is different in many ways. The process of brewing espresso, to the caffeine quantity and flavor, is unique from that of coffee.

Difference Between Espresso And Coffee

Brewing Method

The espresso vs coffee beans are the same so we know we are starting off from the same origin. But it is the brewing method that is the significant difference between both the caffeinated beverages.


Both coffee and espresso beans are roasted before they can be brewed. The coffee beans are roasted lightly for a shorter period of time. This makes the coffee best suited for the pour-over method and also gives a lighter flavor.

But when it comes to an espresso, the beans are dark roasted giving it a bolder and less acidic flavor. This roasting method allows the espresso to be brewed at a high speed and pressure.


This part is where science is involved. For an espresso, precision and consistency matter greatly. Since the espresso is brewed at high pressure, it is imperative for the coffee grind to be very fine but also not too fine that it becomes way too bitter. It is basically an art that one perfects with trial and error.

For coffee, the grind needs to be coarse which works best for the pour-over method.


To pull an espresso shot, hot water is pressurized and forced through finely ground espresso at a high speed. That is why a single espresso shot is pulled in 15-20 seconds. Since a high-pressure and finely ground coffee is what’s necessary for the perfect espresso shot from an espresso machine, it is best made in a semi-automatic or super-automatic espresso machine.

On the other hand, coffee is easy to brew either with the pour-over method or by using a drip machine. The flavor will ultimately be the same.

Caffeine Quantity

To answer this, we will dive down to some numbers. A cup of coffee, let’s say a standard 12-ounce drink, has around 120 milligrams of caffeine. Since the espresso is usually served as a shot (1 ounce) it has around 64 milligrams of caffeine. This means if you have a cup of casual coffee, you would take in more caffeine.

But if you compare ounce to ounce, a single ounce of coffee has 16 milligrams of coffee. So technically espresso has a greater caffeine concentration.

Flavor And Aroma

This is where it all comes down to; the flavor! Coffee is preferred worldwide for its fruitier and a bit acidic flavor. It is sweeter in taste and has a chocolatey aroma. Whereas an espresso is bolder, bitter and less acidic.

Since the brewing method of the espresso is so careful so as to preserve the natural oils, it is safe to say that the espresso has a shinier look.

Espresso Vs Coffee: FAQs

Is an espresso just a shot of coffee?

No, espresso is significantly different from coffee. The espresso is served as a concentrated form of coffee in a little amount, known as a shot. From the roasting method to the brewing, espresso and coffee are different.

Is espresso stronger than coffee?

In a single espresso shot, there is approximately 64 milligrams of caffeine. If you compare it to a single ounce of coffee, which has 16 milligrams of caffeine, espresso is stronger than coffee.

Is espresso better for your stomach than coffee?

If it takes a short time to brew, then it will be easy on the stomach. This is why the regular espresso, brewed in 15-20 seconds, is better for your stomach than a pour-over coffee.

Why Is Espresso More Expensive Than Drip Coffee?

Drip coffee can be easily made by having hot water poured over ground coffee. However, an espresso requires an espresso machine with all the necessary features that can gauge the time, pressure, and temperature for the perfect espresso shot. The time, energy, and skills required to make espresso are the reasons it costs more.

The Bottom Line

So that puts an end to the espresso vs coffee debate. There is no winner. Both stand unique and glorious in their own ways. The Italian espresso depends on the precision and skill that will give a concentrated and bold taste. The ancient coffee, on the other hand, is easy to make but gives a fruitier less bitter taste.

If you ask us, we would say knock yourselves out and enjoy both!

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