When the craving strikes (and it always does for us), do you opt for coffee or espresso?

If you’re a java fan, you likely know both terms very well. But do you know what makes espresso different from coffee?

Here’s the (coffee) scoop. (We couldn’t resist.)

The Process: Under Pressure

Have you ever heard of “The Tortoise and the Hare?” Well, that story describes this difference perfectly.

In this scenario, Drip Coffee plays the part of the Tortoise. Most of us know how drip brew is made. Hot water slowly sprinkles over coarsely ground coffee beans, and the resulting liquid (coffee) painstakingly passes through a paper filter before landing in the pot. The process can take several minutes, depending on the number of cups you’re brewing.

In contrast, meet Espresso, our Hare. An espresso machine blasts hot water at super-high pressure through finely ground beans. This method creates a somewhat thicker liquid (espresso) sporting a patch of foam, called crema, on top.  Because of the intense pressure, espresso is ready to drink much more quickly (usually within 30 seconds) than its drip counterpart.

Coffee Grounds: Size Matters

Since they brew coffee more slowly, drip machines work best with medium, fairly coarse coffee grounds. Espresso, on the other hand, requires a much finer grind. This allows the quickly passing hot water to grab as much of the coffee flavor as possible in such a short amount of time.

Caffeine: Which Has More?

Espresso’s buzzy reputation would have you believe that it contains far more caffeine, but the answer is a bit more complicated than that.

In terms of serving sizes, a cup of coffee contains more caffeine (about 95mg) than a shot of espresso (about 65mg). But you’re getting about six to eight ounces of coffee per cup, while a shot of espresso is just one ounce.

If you measure caffeine per ounce of liquid, espresso easily claims the caffeine title. It’s unlikely most folks are drinking 8 ounces of espresso at a time. That’s a lot of espresso, even for us!

Flavor: Kickin’ It Bold School

The difference in taste between coffee and espresso is undeniable. Espresso boasts a thicker liquid with a bolder, more concentrated flavor. And its powerful brewing method extracts more of the coffee’s delicious oils, resulting in the crema that floats on top of a fresh shot.

There is no crema atop a cup of regular coffee. The paper filter used in the drip process catches most of the blame for that. But coffee’s milder flavor appeals to those who find espresso to be too strong and bitter. And that’s a lot of people!

So, yes, there are many differences between coffee and espresso. But in the end, they are products of the same bean. And that means we are loyal fans no matter which one you choose.

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