Espresso VS Drip Coffee (Which Is Better?)

Espresso and drip coffees both are coffees that are brewed in different ways. Espresso uses pressure to brew coffee while drip uses gravity to make its brew.

Every cup is different when it comes to coffee. Though the ingredients might remain the same, each brewing method impacts the taste, flavor profile, and overall final product that is the coffee.

So, today we’ll be putting espresso and drip coffee neck to neck to understand more about them. You see, as more and more people are getting hooked on coffee or are wanting to brew their own coffee, every brewing method seems intriguing. Today I’ll help you find the best one.

So, let’s begin.

What Is Espresso?

a shot of espresso

Espresso is considered as a method to brew coffee using pressure. The result of this method produces a shot of espresso which is potent and very strong. Since no other coffee is brewed in this way, espresso itself is considered a method of brewing.

If you’re unfamiliar with brewing methods, I have an article that covers the basics of each of them. You can check it out here.

Whenever there is a discussion about coffee you will definitely hear the word espresso. But what is it?

Well, espresso is one of the most powerful and potent forms of coffee. The coffee compounds are the most concentrated in them. It is made by a coffee maker which will have the coffee grounds have heated water pass through them and then they are ground with pressure.

This is done for a short amount of time, but the water absorbs every soluble compound from the coffee grounds. Just because of this, it is used as a base for making other coffees like your lattes and cappuccinos.

The brew that takes place only yields 1 oz shot at a time. And that shot alone can contain up to 65 mg of caffeine. So much for 1 oz, right?

In the words of Specialty Coffee Association of America, it is,Espresso is a 25–35ml (.85–1.2 ounce [×2 for double]) beverage prepared from 7–9 grams (14–18 grams for a double) of coffee through which clean water of 195°–205°F (90.5°–96.1°C) has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds.

While brewing, the flow of espresso will appear to have the viscosity of warm honey and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick, dark golden crema. Espresso should be prepared specifically for and immediately served to its intended consumer.”

Lastly, espresso is only made with hot water. No cold brewing method can be applied to make a shot of Espresso.

What Is Drip Coffee?

Drip coffee is made from water that is poured over the coffee grounds that is in a paper filter. And then, the brewed coffee drips downwards to an empty vessel below. This can be done with hot water or cold water.

Drip coffee as the name defines it is a way of brewing coffee that involves dripping.

In the coffee machine, the prepared coffee drips from the machine into the carafe hence its name. The coffee machine’s filter is filled with ground coffee and loaded up.

The water gets filled in the reservoir. Then, the brewing process starts. The water is heated and pushed upwards through the showerhead and then dripped over the grounds on the filter. Once done, the brewed coffee drips from the basket into the carafe.  

You can watch this video I found about drip coffee.

should watch this

Is Drip Coffee The Same As Espresso?

Drip coffee is not the same as espresso. Espresso is a more concentrated version of drip coffee. Thus, it significantly changes its content.

There are numerous ways to brew coffee. You can use machines or just make it manually, these countless ways give each cup of coffee its own features.

If we talk about drip coffee and espresso, they both are different from each other yet might feel like they’re quite similar. The whole idea of dripping is involved in both categories.

But the time, water quantity, pressure, and ground types are not the same, therefore, producing a different tasting coffee.

two wooden tables each have the espresso tamped. Right side one has a cup of latte with roasted bean on the left side.

Let’s find out the difference between each of them.

Strength

Firstly, espresso is 6 to 8 times stronger than drip coffee. This is because it’s the concentrated form of that same coffee that changes its profile. More coffee compounds are more pronounced in espresso than drip coffee.

Caffeine

Since espresso has more coffee compounds, the most active and potent coffee compound is caffeine is jam-packed in a 1 oz shot. Whereas, drip coffee has lesser caffeine content extracted.

Acidity

The grounds of coffee release their acids first thing in the water. Therefore, espresso will be more acidic when compared with drip coffee. And if a lighter roast is used for making espresso, the acidity levels can increase much more.

Bitterness

The most evident flavor for espresso is its bitterness. As coffee is filled with quinines – compounds responsible for the bitter taste – these compounds are active and are heavily populated in a shot of espresso. And drip coffee has a more balanced flavor profile with hints of sweetness as the quinines are less in it.

Check out this table that I’ve made that summarized the difference between espresso and drip coffee.

ContentDrip Coffee ( 8 oz)Espresso (1 oz)
Caffeine96 mg63 mg
Acidity35% – 50%60% – 70%
Bitterness30% – 40%70% – 85%
Sweetness20%1% – 5%
StrengthModerate Very Strong

Can You Drink Espresso As A Drip Coffee?

Espresso can be consumed as a drip coffee only if other additives are added to it to increase its volume like milk, water, cream, etc. Otherwise, making a dozen shots of espresso to drink would make you suffer caffeine overdose and land you in the hospital.

Till now we’ve understood that drip coffee and espresso are different from each other. Though they are both coffee and can be made from the same coffee beans, the brewing method makes all the difference here. An espresso is a potent form of coffee that should not be consumed excessively.

The caffeine content per ounce is much higher in espresso than in drip coffee. For adults, the U.S Food and Drug Administration has provided guidelines that suggest only 400 mg of consumption in a day.

And if you start drinking espresso in an 8 oz cup you would be drinking 500 mg of caffeine. Which is a shockingly high- number. An average 8 oz cup of drip coffee contains about 96 mg of caffeine.

Moreover, this is the sole reason that espresso is used as a base for other coffees like frappuccino’s, lattes, iced brews, etc. Adding ingredients like water, makes an Americano, adding steamed milk makes cappuccino, adding milk foam makes macchiato, and adding steamed milk and chocolate syrup makes mocha. So, you get the idea.

Plus, coming back to the drinking of espresso in an 8 oz cup-like drip coffee, would give you caffeine overdose.

The excessive caffeine present in your system can cause:

  • Jitteriness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting

And if these are not taken care of immediately, it can lead up to long-term effects that would need instant medical help.

So, if you want to enjoy espresso-like drip coffee, add other additives and sip!

coffee dripping from machine

Is Drip Coffee Better Than Espresso?

Every coffee has its own flavor profile. It all depends on what you’re looking for in your fresh brewed cuppa. Either you want a balanced-tasting drip coffee or a strong and powerful shot of espresso.

Each type of coffee has its own consumer base that drinks it and loves it each day. Comparing the two is not a fair comparison. They both are different and fulfill the demand of not the same people.

Drip coffee is enjoyed by people who love a balanced flavor of coffee with every note clean and crisp. It’s not either very bitter or acidic. It is the sweet spot of everything. In your drip coffee, you can add whatever you like to make it perfect for you. Like milk, cream, coconut oil to make bulletproof coffee and so much more.

Now if we talk about espresso, it’s drunk in small quantities because of its potency. This is a concentrated version of coffee is that’s why used as a base for many coffees.

Plus, people who like straight-up pure coffee in all its glory, enjoy this a lot. The Italians are the perfect example who love their espresso. It has a strong and bitter flavor with a very pronounced aroma that makes the whole house smell like coffee. Therefore, you can add other ingredients to this too and change it up.

So, in conclusion, both of the coffee is good and satisfy a contrasting group of people.

My Two Cents

Espresso and drip coffee both are amazing ways to enjoy coffee. Espresso is a jampacked version of drip coffee that is powerful and wakes you up instantly. While drip coffee is a more balanced and lighter version of coffee. Both are brewed with hot water in a machine and involve a drip mechanism.

But drip coffee is enjoyed in large volume whereas espresso is only consumed in 1 oz shot per serving. These shots are also used to make various coffees like lattes and cappuccino.

Just don’t think about drinking espresso in the same volume as drip coffee as otherwise, you will face negative effects.

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Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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