The Difference between Espresso and Drip Coffee
Generally, there are two main differences between espresso and automatic drip coffee. These two differences are the fineness of the grind and the brewing time. Some people can become confused about the topic, because there are some coffee companies that sell a roasted bean called “Espresso.” In this case, this is a bean that is roasted with the intent of making espresso out of it, but you can still grind it more coarsely for a regular drip coffee if you like. Similarly, if you purchase French Roast and want to make the whole beans into espresso, that’s totally fine.
In the United States, when you see the name “coffee” on a restaurant menu, it usually refers to automatic drip coffee. Espresso will be indicated by its name to differentiate it from other types of coffee. Note that in other countries, espresso may be regarded as “American style coffee,” and automatic drip coffee as “coffee.”
Automatic drip coffee is the type that is more commonly seen among regular households. It requires an automatic drip coffee maker. These vary in price from only $10 dollars to over $500 dollars. Drip coffeemakers are normally far cheaper than their espresso machine counterparts. They use the same ingredients: water and ground coffee beans. In addition, the amount of time used in a drip brewing system depends on the machine, but it always much longer than the time required to pull a shot of espresso.
Drip coffee is brewed by automatic drip coffee makers, but espressos are made by espresso machines. Espresso machines are specially designed to force water through the very finely ground coffee very quickly. If everything goes as designed, you will get a cup of dark, thick liquid with a small amount of crema on top. If your espresso machine is equipped with a frothing wand, you can also use the brewed espresso to create espresso-based drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, or macchiatos.
Coffee beans used to brew espressos are more finely ground. They also have to endure a higher level of pressure than regular drip coffees. Espressos are more concentrated, thicker, darker, and have a stronger flavor. As a result they are usually served as single shots, not in the king-size travel mug you may use when it comes to drip coffees. Espressos are served in a small (“demitasse”) cup that ranges from 1 ounce to 1.5 ounces. A straight espresso doesn’t contain any additives like sugars, syrups, or cream. It is best when consumed immediately after brewing.
Compared with drip coffeemakers that are more affordable, espresso machines have more various styles, and they are far more likely to cost you an arm and a leg. When buying an espresso machine, people have to think carefully, and make a choice between budget, convenience, and taste. You may only be able to meet two of these three criteria; in some cases, you’ll meet only one.
Price Range for Different Types of Espresso Machines:
- Manual espresso machine – hard to use, but can produce espressos of the best quality ($300 – $1500)
- Semi-automatic espresso machine – requires some learning to master, delivers espresso of good quality ($100-$1000)
- Super-automatic espresso machine – very convenient, very consistent, but the quality is average ($500-$3000)
To sum up, drip coffees are coffees brewed at lower temperature and pressure, they use more water and require longer brewing time, and the beans used to brew drip coffees are more coarsely ground. Espressos on the other hand use finely ground coffee beans, and are brewed by nearly boiling water under high pressure. The former is more common, convenient, and price effective, while the latter is more expensive, more complicated, and sometimes more fun.