Espresso vs Regular Coffee

When it was first introduced to the people in the United States, espresso became an entirely new coffee experience. It has a distinctive preparation method, and it has revolutionized the coffee industry with its espresso-based drinks. So, how is espresso actually different from regular coffee? Below, we will help you understand the differences between espresso vs regular coffee.

Continue reading below to find out about:
– How to make espresso and regular coffee,
– The distinctive features of espresso vs regular coffee,
– The flavor profiles of the two drinks, and
– The drink variants of espresso and regular coffee.

How to Make Espresso
Before we proceed further, it is important to point out that espresso and regular coffee may use similar types of coffee beans. The terms “espresso” and “regular coffee” simply indicate the preparation methods. They may use any coffee bean, although some coffee beans are more preferred for making espresso. In many cases, espresso and regular coffee are made from blends of different coffee beans. See also: Espresso vs Americano.

Now, let’s see the preparation method of espresso. It is quite different from making regular coffee, and it uses a particular espresso machine. Typically, to make espresso, you need to grind the coffee beans down to be much finer that what is used for regular coffee. After that, place the ground coffee in the basket and tamp them with 30 – 40 pounds pressure. This is to prevent the water from making a hole through them.

Very hot water is forced through the ground coffee for about 15 – 20 seconds. It extracts the coffee into a much thicker liquid than regular coffee. There is some froth produced on the top, called the crema. Espresso is served in a shot, using a small 1-oz or 2-oz cup.

Espresso’s Flavor Profile
A fresh espresso shot usually consists of three main parts. The first part is the heart, which is the darkest part in the bottom of the espresso shot. The second part is the body, which is the light brown center layer where the darkest part and the lighter part mix together. The third part is the crema, which is the creamy top layer of the espresso shot.

Espresso has a very limited time to be enjoyed. The three distinct layers start to vanish after only 10 seconds, and this gradually changes the taste. Waiting for a little while is okay, but waiting too long is not recommended as the taste will become so bad. That’s why people who order espresso usually drink it almost right away.

The flavor of espresso is typically richer and stronger. It has such a punch, but it is actually well-balanced between sweet and bitter. However, if you wait too long to drink your espresso, the flavor may become bitter and acidic.

As a matter of fact, espresso actually has more caffeine amount per volume than regular coffee. It is indeed richer and stronger. However, since it is usually served in a small shot, the actual total amount of caffeine may be lower than regular coffee.

Drinks that Use Espresso
Espresso is often served alone, but it is also used as a base for various coffee drinks. All those popular coffee drinks such as cappuccino, latte, macchiato, flat white, Americano, cortado, piccolo, and galao are all based on espresso. According to The Spruce, many simple variations of such drinks begin with one or two espresso shots.

How to Make Regular Coffee
There are several methods that you can use to make regular coffee. You can use a traditional pour-over method, a drip coffee maker, or a French press. The underlying principle of these methods is the same.

To make regular coffee, you use medium ground coffee that is placed into a paper filter. Put it on a cup, and pour some hot water through it. The temperature should be around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterwards, gravity will handle the rest. The water is pulled down by gravity, passing through the coffee while extracting the oils and flavors, and finally goes into the cup. The used ground coffee remains in the filter and won’t disrupt your drinking experience.

Regular coffee is more flexible with its brewing sizes. It is usually served in a larger cup or glass. It may be as much as 8 oz, 12 oz, 16 oz, or even 20 oz.

Regular Coffee’s Flavor Profile
Unlike espresso, regular coffee has a relatively more stable flavor profile. It can be enjoyed after several hours since the brewing, as long as it is kept at the right temperature. That’s why many people love to make regular coffee in the morning for later enjoyment. You can make a pot of regular coffee in the morning, take one cup, and save the rest for the lunch.

Regular coffee usually has a soothing flavor. If brewed well, it tastes great. However, it does not have the rich flavor of espresso. This is because the filter prevents some flavors from getting extracted. While espresso can have a complex flavor profile, regular coffee is weaker and less intense.

Regular coffee actually has less caffeine per volume. However, due to the much larger serving size, regular coffee may contain more caffeine than espresso.

Drink Variants of Regular Coffee
There are many variants of regular coffee. These drink variants may be made using different brewing methods or with additional ingredients. For example, decaf coffee is made using decaffeinated ground coffee, suitable for people who need to reduce their caffeine consumption. There are also drip coffee, plunger coffee, and instant coffee.

In the end, espresso vs regular coffee both offer different things to enjoy. Choosing what to drink may depend on the current situation. When going to a café, you may want to enjoy the rich, full-bodied flavor of espresso. Espresso is a nice choice if you like to sip your coffee. However, when making coffee at home, regular coffee may be more practical. Regular coffee may be better if you want something that you can enjoy for several minutes.

Espresso vs Regular Coffee

EspressoRegular Coffee
- Uses finer ground coffee- May use medium ground coffee
- Forces hot water through tamped coffee- Passes hot water through coffee by the help of a filter and gravity
- Can’t be kept for long, better if consumed quickly after brewing- Can be kept for several hours at the right temperature
- Stronger, richer flavor with balanced sweetness and bitterness- Relatively weaker flavor
- Served in small 1-oz or 2-oz shots- Served in 8 oz, 12 oz, 16 oz, or 20 oz cup or glass

Espresso vs regular coffee use different brewing methods, hence they offer different flavors. Espresso is made using finer ground coffee, and the process involves forcing some hot water through the tamped coffee. Espresso has a stronger and richer flavor but can’t wait for long. Meanwhile, regular coffee may be made from medium ground coffee. Regular coffee has a less intense flavor, and can be kept for several hours at the right temperature.