Most people know that coffee and espresso are two different things, but do you really know how they differ from one another? This article highlights 4 key differences between espresso and coffee… two of the world’s most popular coffee beverages.


1. Origin

Ironically, the difference between coffee and espresso begins with their key similarity.

It is often mistaken that the difference between coffee and espresso is in the bean. This is incorrect.

Many mistake espresso as being a different bean due to the difference in texture, taste, and caffeination of the beverage, but the difference lies in the process by which an espresso is made. More on that in the next section.

Coffee and espresso come from the same origin: the coffee bean.Robusta Coffee Bean_Coffee And Espresso Difference

There are 2 kinds of coffee beans that are grown commercially: Robusta and Arabica. Robusta coffee beans are said to have a nuttier flavor when roasted; their taste is often compared to oatmeal. Un-roasted Robusta beans have a more “peanut-y” scent.

The Arabica bean’s palate is harder to identify. Depending on its variety, an Arabica bean’s flavor can range from sweet to tangy. When roasted, Arabica beans have a sweeter and more floral flavor than Robusta—giving off more fruit and sugar tones; un-roasted, Arabica has a sweet blueberry scent.

“Espresso” does not refer to the type of bean used to make the drink; it is simply the name of the drink itself. An espresso is made from a Robusta or Arabica bean (often a dark and bold flavor).

For more information about all of the different classifications of coffee, check out this guide.

Or if you want to check out the different types of coffee drinks you can make – this guide is awesome.


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2. Process

Most of us are probably familiar with the process of making coffee. There are more than a few ways to do it: French Press, Percolated, or good ol’ fashioned drip coffee, just to name a few. All of which can be made in the comfort of your own home with simple contraptions.

Making homemade espresso used to be a different story—you didn’t do it at all because of the prohibitive cost of the machine—but at-home espresso machines are becoming more and more affordable these days. This machine is imperative to making espresso at home (with a few exceptions, see How to Make Espresso Without an Espresso Maker)—true espresso cannot be made in a regular coffee pot or French Press because of the high pressure needed to heat the water. Further, these machines usually have their own grinder built into them as regular coffee grinders cannot achieve the particularly fine grind needed to make espresso. (Again, there are some notable exceptions—check out our picks for the Top 3 Coffee Grinders for Espresso-Lovers)

3. Caffeine Amount

Espresso is often assumed to having more caffeine than coffee. Well, it really depends on how much you have…

Difference Between Espresso and Coffee_Atlas Coffee ClubAn average cup of drip coffee is going to have more caffeine than a shot of espresso. Typically, an 8oz cup of coffee contains anywhere from 85-185 mg of caffeine and a shot (~1 oz) of espresso contains between 40-75.

While it is true that espresso has a higher concentration of caffeine per ounce—which is where the confusion likely stems from—you still get less caffeine drinking one shot of espresso vs. one cup of coffee. Obviously, this changes if you’re an espresso junkie and have more than the average recommended shots per day (which is 5, by the way).

4. Taste

Most people claim that the main difference between espresso and coffee can be sampled upon drinking each beverage.

Espresso has a well-rounded, roasty, full-bodied flavor that many consider much bolder than the taste of coffee. Some espresso-lovers insist that the paper filter used for brewing regular drip coffee saps some of the flavor from the coffee grounds and therefore is the cause of this evident difference in taste.

Now You Know!

This should help you make the decision as to which type to go with. If you like a darker, bolder tasting brew, go with espresso. If you want a wider variety in taste—with the option to go light or dark—and more casual drinking experience, go with coffee.

All in all, it’s really up to you based on your preferences. We say “Why not have both?”. Here’s a hint: Add espresso to your coffee. One of the best coffee drinks (especially in the Winter) is a Hot Chocolate Mocha with a shot of espresso in it…mmmmm.

Thanks for learning with us—now when a friend asks you’ll be able to give a good answer to the difference between espresso and coffee.



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