Espresso VS Filtered Coffee (A Deep Dive)

Espresso and filtered coffee are basically the same. They both involve a filter of some sort, water to pour over coffee grounds, and a vessel to catch the brewed dripping coffee. But the only difference is that in espresso, pressure is used to brew.

Coffee in today’s age is not just a drink. People consume coffee for many reasons. Some for a caffeine fix, some for gaining benefits, and some even for the sake of its taste.

But whatever it might be, the coffee industry is booming for the past decade. With numerous ways of making coffee, you might be familiar with the word espresso and filter coffee. They both are the baseline of coffee making. But to give you a better insight, let’s discuss this more.

In this article, we’ll find out some differences between each of these, and let’s figure out which one is better.

Is Espresso The Same As Filter?

a shot of espresso

Espresso and filtered coffee have the same concept of brewing. But they’re not the same. The difference lies in the fact that pressure is used to brew espresso. Whereas, water is poured freely over the grounds in filtered coffee.

Espresso as the name suggests is an EXPRESS way of drinking coffee. It’s the most potent form of coffee that you can enjoy. This Italian version of coffee is the backbone of making other coffee types like a flat white, lattes, etc. Basically, without espresso, specialty coffee can’t be made. But what is espresso?

Well, it’s very fast and simple. Coffee grounds are loaded into the coffee machine. Then the hot water is dripped onto them with hot steam. This produces a freshly brewed shot of coffee a.k.a espresso.

This whole process is done within 30 seconds. Now, this makes the coffee contains concentrated amounts of soluble coffee compounds. Thus it’s only made in 1 oz shots and is used as a base for other coffees.

Now if we talk about filter, the process is the same but lacks the steaming part. Filter coffee is coffee made by using a filter, water, coffee grounds, and a vessel to hold the dripping cuppa.

On top of the vessel, the filter is placed and the coffee ground according to whatever brew type you prefer is put. Then the water is poured on top of it in a steady stream.  

Again, according to whatever type of brew you’re looking for, the water temperature, quantity, time, etc. is managed and controlled here. The brewed coffee drips in the bottom of the vessel. Thus, making Filter coffee.

Espresso cannot be made like this. There is a set amount of water, coffee ground, and time set for brewing it. If you tweak any of these factors, a drinkable espresso shot won’t be prepared. But in filter coffee, you can tweak and make changes according to your liking.

So, in conclusion, espresso and filter are not the same.

Check out this video to which explains this very swiftly.

Which Is Better Espresso Or Filter?

There is no right answer to this question. Each kind of coffee satisfies a different consumer base. It’s all about preference. If you like a balanced coffee drink filter. If you like potent intense coffee, drink espresso.

As you might see around in coffee shops, an espresso machine is kept in all its glory. Also, you might see a Clevver Dripper – a pour-over filter coffee brewing manual machine.

You might get intimidated by both of these. But don’t worry, it’s not that hard to understand. You see, both of these coffees are made in a different way using different machines. Though their concept remains the same, the brewing method is where the difference lies.

These are;

  • Coffee ground size
  • Water amount
  • Time
  • Machine
a shot of espresso on a table

So, let’s talk about their difference in detail.

Coffee Grounds Size

When making espresso, the finer grind of coffee beans is used. Since it gets in contact with water for a shorter period of time, this allows most of the coffee compounds to get absorbed in the water. And a filter is made with medium to coarser grounds thus making a balanced coffee cup.

Water

For filter, you can use hot or cold water. Each temperature will brew a different tasting coffee, you can read about that here. Plus, the amount of water can also be controlled, again, depending on what kind of brew you’re looking for.

But when brewing espresso, a set temperature of 96 degrees Celsius or 200-degree Fahrenheit is used.

Time

Filter coffee is standardly brewed for 4 minutes. This makes a moderate-strength coffee. But this time can be reduced or extended depending on what final product is desired. Whereas espresso cannot be brewed over 30 seconds, otherwise it will be over-extracted.

Machine

Filter coffee can be made using various manual and electronic devices like Chemex, and Clevver Dripper. But espresso can only be made in a coffee machine. Yes, you can definitely brew a very strong cuppa like espresso, but it won’t be jampacked with coffee compounds.

Now, that this is out of the way. It is very evident that both cater to different masses of people. Espresso is drunk by people who want to consume a very strong shot of coffee instantly. It’s the perfect and quick caffeine fix that is needed.

But keep in mind that it contains about 63 mg of caffeine per shot. And the FDA only suggests 400 mg of caffeine in a single day.

But when it comes to filtered coffee, people who enjoy clean crisp coffee with balanced flavor enjoy it. Plus, it’s not as potent as espresso. Therefore, there isn’t any fair comparison for an espresso and filter. Both are delicious!

Check out this table I’ve made that summarizes the difference between a filter and an espresso.

Filter (8oz)ContentEspresso (1oz)
96 mgCaffeine63 mg
5%- 10%Acidity60% – 70%
18%Bitterness70% – 85%
35%Sweetness1% – 5%
ModerateStrengthVery Strong
a celvver dripper with coffee mug and scale

Is Espresso Stronger Than Filter?

Espresso is much stronger than filtered coffee. Espresso is very potent and intense. But filtered coffee is not as strong and doesn’t have a very intense flavor profile.

Filtered coffee is made by pouring a steady stream of water over coffee grounds. This lets the coffee grounds bloom and saturate with water. But the filter allows the unwanted compounds of coffee not to be absorbed in the water. This makes it a very balanced and clean cup of coffee and gives it a rounded flavor profile overall.

But when it comes to espresso, the pressure that is added, makes the water withdraw almost every soluble compound of coffee. This makes it a strong and potent cuppa with intense flavors. It’s bitter in taste, with lots of acids. Thus, making espresso a stronger and much more concentrated version of coffee than filtered coffee.

Is Espresso Healthier Than Filter?

Filtered coffee is healthier than espresso. This is because filtered coffee eliminates any unwanted oils from getting inside the final brew. While espresso contains everything, even the coffee oils and unwanted compounds.

Around the world, about 1 billion coffee drinkers are there. And let alone in America about 65% of Americans drink coffee every day. That makes more than half of the American population hooked on coffee.

It is also one of the largest sources of antioxidants in the western diet. And we all know that antioxidants are very helpful and much needed for our body to maintain its health. They help our body get rid of toxins that can end up in life-threatening diseases and make our skin glow.

The caffeine from the coffee elevates our energy levels and boosts one’s mood too. Plus, it helps prevent many nervous system disorders like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It prevents premature death, reduces the risk of heart-related diseases, diabetes, and liver cancer.

So does this mean that all coffees are healthy? No.

Espresso is not as healthy as filtered coffee. Because the raw coffee beans contain some compounds like kahweol and diterpenes. The unwanted diterpenes and kahweol raise cholesterol levels which is not good for your body. But filtered coffee doesn’t allow these compounds to pass into the final brew, so it’s much better to drink filter.

But since espresso does contain these its not as good as you might think. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology published a study where they analyzed 508,747 people who drank filter, unfiltered, and combination of both coffees over the course of 20 years of people aged 20 to 79 years.  

And it was observed that people who consumed filtered coffee had a lower risk of heart-related issues. Also, Food Research International also published a review that said cafestol is highest in unfiltered coffee methods.

Moreover, this doesn’t mean that it cannot be consumed. It simply means that you need to restrict your consumption of unfiltered coffee so that you don’t face any damages.

Therefore, espresso is not as healthy as filtered coffee.

Final Thoughts

Espresso and filter are very similar. They both have a basic concept. But there is a difference that makes these taste very different. Espresso uses hot steam pressure therefore it’s very potent and strong.

But filtered coffee is made with water poured slowly and steadily without any hot steam pressure. This makes for a clean and balanced flavored brew. 

Nonetheless, each of these coffees serves various consumers. People who enjoy strong shots with a massive jolt of energy, drink espresso shots. And people who consume filtered coffee, love rounded flavors of coffee that give them the correct taste and aroma. So it is up to you which one you like to drink as a comparison between the two would be unfair.

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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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