So what’s the difference between coffee and espresso??

So what’s the deal with espresso and coffee? Is there a difference between coffee and espresso? The quick answer: there is no difference in the type of bean that makes coffee or espresso. But there are other factors that do make each of them unique. Keep reading to find out!

Major Differences


Coffee beans come in several types of roasts. Classic coffee can be made with any type of roast. Espresso traditionally is made with dark roast. I say traditionally, because more recently coffee shops do make espresso with light roasted coffee beans as well. Dark roast has a very strong and prominent flavor. Most espresso drinks need that flavor because it’s diluted with other liquids. 


A huge factor that separates the two drinks are the preparation methods that each of them go through.


Coffee can be prepared with many different machines, from a: Drip Coffee Maker, French Press, Percolator, Pour Over, etc… Each of these methods does affect the taste of the coffee in some way.

Espresso is made through the use of an Espresso machine. Espresso machines do vary between each brand and model. Some come with grinders, steaming wands, or even tamp your espresso for you.

Grind Size

Coffee has a wide range of machines that it can be made with as before said. Each of those machines use a different grind for the coffee. A Drip Coffee Maker has the standard grind size for coffee, a medium grind. Depending on what machine is being used to make coffee, the grind size can vary from coarse(large) to medium to fine(small).

Espresso has one size for the grind size, fine. A fine sized grind somewhere around the size of table salt. Any bigger and you wouldn’t get the most flavor in your espresso.

The grind size is important for each device. You need the correct grind size for the type of machine you are trying to make coffee or espresso in.

Extraction Method

Extraction method has to do with both the grind size and the type of machine you are using.

Most machines that are used to make coffee have a similar process. They take coffee grounds that are generally medium to large and hot water. The hot water is in contact with the grounds for several minutes. Generally, the machines use gravity to separate the two. We then have a cup of coffee.

The fine grounds used for espresso only comes into contact with the water for 20-30 seconds. Grounds used for espresso are packed together into something that looks like a hockey puck. High amounts of pressure force hot water through the puck to give us espresso shots.

The grounds can’t be too fine or too coarse in an espresso machine. If they’re too coarse, the water does not have enough contact time with the grounds, resulting in a watery tasting shot. If they’re too fine, the water will over-extract. That gives you something bitter and burnt tasting.


Now time for the big question most people have. Does a cup of coffee or a shot of espresso have more caffeine?

An ounce of espresso or 1 shot has about 63mg of caffeine. While an ounce of coffee averages somewhere between 12mg – 16mg of caffeine.

A small coffee is usually 8 ounces, so a cup of coffee can range anywhere from 96mg – 128mg. The caffeine levels in coffee vary depending on the bean, roast, and the way it is brewed. In short, a cup of coffee does contain more caffeine than a shot of espresso.

If you were to take a shot of espresso by itself you’d feel a bigger “jolt” of energy. You would be consuming more caffeine in a shorter amount of time, compared to drinking an 8oz cup of coffee. Unless you were to chug your 8oz cup of coffee, that wouldn’t be enjoyable for most!

Now You Know!

Now you know some of the key differences between coffee and espresso. You know how each of them have different preparations that need to be accounted for. Also how each of them need to be extracted. Tell us which one you prefer!

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