There is a lot of confusion when it comes to what coffee drink you should have and how they differ.

Espresso and coffee are two drinks that you can easily drink, but how do they differ?

Quick Answer: What is the difference between espresso and coffee?

The main difference between espresso and coffee is that espresso is brewed under high pressure using finely ground beans – creating a concentrated shot of liquid gold, while coffee is typically brewed through a drip or pour-over method.

Espresso vs. Coffee: Get To Know All the Differences

I’ll go over the difference in taste, the brewing method, which is stronger, the caffeine difference, and which coffee is right for you.

Are you ready to learn all about it? Then grab a cup of coffee and start reading away!

Espresso vs. coffee, how do they differ?

Before getting into the details about each drink and how they differ, you can have a look at the overview below:

Flavor notesA smoky, complex, and bittersweet flavorRobust and full-bodied flavor
Milk used?No milk usedNo milk used
Caffeine content68mg of caffeine170 to 220mg of caffeine
Number of caloriesVirtually no caloriesVirtually no calories
Any toppings?Has a nice crema on topServed as is
Add-in used?Sweetener of choiceSweetener of choice

As you can see, these basic coffees have quite a few differences. You can also easily tell them apart when looking at the image below:

Espresso vs. coffee comparison.

Espresso is a concentrated coffee with more caffeine than regular coffee. It’s made by forcing water through finely ground, highly roasted coffee beans.

The result is a rich, dark liquid with a strong flavor that can be served in small quantities or mixed into what you’re already drinking for an extra shot of energy.

On the other hand, coffee starts as coarsely ground beans, which are either brewed with off-the-boil water or infused with hot water using various brewing methods:

How do these coffees differ in brewing methods?

Brewed coffee can be made with different coffee brewers. Some of my favorites include the Hario V60, Chemex, and French press.

You can make coffee anytime and with less expensive coffee brewers, but espresso requires an espresso machine.

Brewing coffee with the Hario V60.

Higher pressure is applied during extraction, allowing more oils and flavor compounds to be extracted than in other brewing methods.

Espresso coffee is brewed within 20 – 30 seconds, while brewed coffee can take anywhere from 4 to up to 6 minutes in some cases.

The more coffee you brew, the longer the brewing time will be, but this is not the case for espresso.

Espresso coffee is always made within the same extraction range for optimal results.

Brewing espresso shots.

Tip: If you want to learn how to brew coffee at home, you can check out my beginner’s guide to brewing coffee.

Is espresso stronger than coffee?

Espresso is stronger than coffee; why? Well, first off, it all comes down to size – literally.

A standard cup of coffee is usually anywhere from 8 to 12 ounces, while an espresso shot is just 1 ounce (though commonly served as a double).

Therefore, you’re essentially consuming more concentrated amounts of caffeine in each sip of an espresso compared to a more diluted version with regular coffee.

Freshly brewed espresso coffee.

But size isn’t the only factor here; it’s also about the brewing method. Espresso is made by forcing hot water under high pressure through finely ground beans, resulting in an intense brew that captures every flavor profile within seconds.

With traditional drip-brewed coffee, water simply passes over coarser grounds at lower pressures, producing a milder flavor profile.

Espresso vs. coffee, the caffeine difference

Espresso is lower in caffeine per serving than regular coffee, coming in at 68 mg and 170-220 mg, respectively.

The caffeine in coffee changes depending on the brewing technique used. Pour over coffee is lower in caffeine, while French press has a much higher caffeine content. (source)

Espresso is served in a smaller size, coming in at just 1 oz (30 ml), while brewed coffee is served in 8 oz (250 ml):

Espresso vs. coffee.
Espresso on the left. Coffee on the right

If you want a quick burst of energy, drinking espresso is the way to go, as it has a lot of caffeine for its size.

What is the difference in taste between an espresso and coffee?

Espresso has a distinctively intense flavor due to its concentrated nature. It boasts rich notes of bitterness and acidity that awaken your senses instantly.

The high pressure used in its extraction process also creates a layer of crema on top, adding depth and complexity to its taste profile.

Espresso crema, as seen from above.

On the contrary, regular brewed coffee tends towards showcasing subtle flavors rather than intense ones like those found in an espresso shot.

The brewing method allows for more variations when it comes to adjusting factors such as water temperature, grind size, or steeping time, which ultimately affects the final outcome – making every cup unique!

This results in a more diverse range of flavors, from light-bodied brews with floral notes to full-bodied ones with nutty undertones.

You can also achieve different flavors by using different coffee beans. Each coffee bean is unique and will change the taste of your espresso or coffee.

Dark roasted coffee beans.

Espresso vs. coffee, which is right for you?

Depending on the flavor you’re looking for, it’s time to decide which of these coffees fits you best.

If you’re not quite sure which you’ll like more, I suggest the following:

  • Go with an espresso if you love a strong, small cup of coffee that you can quickly drink.
  • If you’d instead love a milder flavored coffee that you can enjoy for a long time, regular brewed coffee will be your best choice.

Espresso requires a lot of time and effort, which can be frustrating if you’re in a hurry, while regular coffee can be made in minutes.

It’s a trade-off – coffee has a milder flavor profile versus espresso’s strong taste, but it takes less work, so it’s great for those days when you have limited time for breakfast!

I like to drink coffee in the mornings to enjoy the coffee flavor longer but switch to espresso later in the day because I like the strength.

And don’t forget; you can also try a few variations of these drinks if you’re unsure which is the right for you.

Related coffee comparison articles

Are you wondering how the espresso and hot coffee compare to other coffees?

Great! Check out the articles below for more in-depth coffee comparisons:

And to compare more coffees, visit the coffee comparison hub!


I hope you have a new appreciation for the difference between espresso and coffee.

There’s no need to fear either of them, as they both offer unique flavor profiles that may be perfect for any given moment in time.

Whether it’s your morning pick-me-up or after-dinner treat, remember what makes each different from the other so that you can enjoy them properly!

Do you prefer espresso or regular coffee? Let me know by leaving a comment down below. If you have any other questions regarding coffee, you can also contact me directly by pressing the “Contact Me” button at the top!

Coffee recipes to try

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