The Difference Between Ordinary Coffee and Espresso

Most people know that coffee and espresso are two different beverages, but they may not know the main difference between them. Espresso is black coffee with no dairy. Unlike ordinary coffee, the brewing method for espresso is quite intricate. To brew espresso, you need to force steam through finely-ground coffee. You can use any variety of coffee beans, but a blend brings out the optimal flavors of coffee. Ordinary drip coffee, on the other hand, is easy to make as all you need to do is pour water over coarsely-ground coffee.


What is the Difference in Brewing Method?

Making ordinary coffee starts with the grinding of the beans. The ground coffee brews best in a home coffeemaker. In most cases, the coffee is ground to medium coarseness. Hot water drips through the ground coffee to extract the essence, after which you discard the grounds. You can also boil the coffee or place it in a percolator to brew. Some of the brewing methods do not filter out the coffee through paper but instead brew the coffee, so it still has much of its body.

To make espresso, hit water passed through fine-ground coffee in between 20 and 30 seconds. This results in a thick coffee. Besides the thicker-than-normal coffee, froth forms on the surface of the coffee. This froth results from the emulsification of the oil in coffee. The froth should be dark mahogany in color and should bubble as you brew the coffee. If the coffee does not froth, it means the coffee might have lost its sugar and fat during processing, or the brewing was poorly done. 


Serving Size

The standard espresso serving is only one ounce, while that of ordinary coffee is 8 ounces. It is common to add shots of espresso into ordinary coffee, sometimes up to four shots. Espresso comes in handy as the base for other flavors of coffee such as Americanos, cappuccinos, lattes, and mocha cafes. You can drink espresso without missing it with ordinary coffee or other beverages.

Starbucks offers its drip in five sizes; 8 ounces, 12 ounces, 16 ounces, 20 ounces, and 31 ounces. In contrast, espresso is available in 1 ounce and 2-ounce sizes.


Caffeine Content and Flavor

Espresso contains more caffeine per ounce than ordinary coffee. Every ounce of espresso provides up to 50mg, while an ounce of regular coffee contains up to 15mg of caffeine. However, a single serving of ordinary coffee contains more caffeine seeing that a single serving is 8 ounces compared to the one or two ounces from a shot of espresso.

Espresso comes as a blend of different varieties of coffee beans to deliver subdued acidity and a heavy body with less bitterness. Drip coffee lacks oils and flavors present in coffee beans since the filter paper removes natural oils. Again, the longer brewing time might lead to the formation of acids which further mask the natural flavor of coffee beans. Note that, if you over-extract the espresso or use over-roasted beans, the espresso will be bitter.



Drip coffee has a light body while espresso has a fuller body thanks to the presence of essential oils. If either drip or espresso coffee smells burnt, this is an indication of poorly prepared beverages. Both drip and espresso coffees have magnesium, potassium, calcium with espresso having more magnesium that drips coffee and drips coffee offering more calcium and potassium.