Espresso vs Drip Coffee: Which Brewing Method Is Best For …

By James Kilpatrick


Some coffee lovers swore to their coffee mugs that a shot of strong espresso is the only way to drink coffee. Other drinkers believe that a cup of drip coffee is the best way to savor the moment.

It depends on personal preference, but it does not hurt to try something new. Let us find out the difference between Espresso vs. Drip Coffee and put an end to his ongoing debate once and for all.

What is the difference between coffee and espresso?


An espresso is small in size but extremely strong and bitter in flavor. This is because of how it is prepared and brewed. It is done by forcing hot water through your preferred finely ground coffee beans at high pressure and speed, which requires you to use a special machine to achieve it.

On the other hand, making drip coffee follows a simpler brewing method. It does not require you to use some fancy machine and will only take water and your go-to coffee grounds to make a cup of Joe.

The methods between how these two are prepared are what make all the difference. Avid coffee drinkers say a shot of espresso is the purest form of coffee, while others believe it is a self-inflicted bitter torment and prefer the easy-drinking quality drip coffee offers.



You need to ground the whole coffee beans before you can make coffee. Most of these are intended for brewing in a coffee machine. When it comes to automatic drip coffee, medium coarseness is ideal.

In a coffee drip system, hot water drips onto your preferred ground coffee and extracts the coffee’s essence through the filter. After extraction, the grounds are thrown away.

You can also brew the coffee by putting it in a coffee maker for brewing, there are dozens of other brewing methods you can use, such as the single-serve systems.

However, making espresso is different. Hot water at high pressure is forced through the finely-ground coffee for about twenty to thirty seconds. As a result, it gives you coffee that is thicker than the regular cup of Joe.

Moreover, there is froth at the top of the drink, which is called crema. This is the outcome of mixing the oils of the drink into a colloid. The crema is a dark mahogany wash that has bubbles of gas, which is an indicator of a good espresso shot.

On the other hand, if there is no crema, it is considered as a poorly-brewed shot. This also could mean the coffee beans have lost their natural sugar and fat during the brewing process.



One of the common misconnections in the Espresso vs. Drip Coffee argument is the caffeine content per serving. You are likely to believe that a shot of espresso has more caffeine than a cup of regular brewed coffee because of its strong and bitter taste.

The standard size of a cup of coffee is eight ounces and this has a few grams more caffeine than an ounce shot of espresso.

The precise number varies depending on the type of beans used, brewing method, water temperature, and many more. On average, a cup of coffee is between 80-100mg of caffeine. Meanwhile, a shot of espresso has only 60mg of caffeine, 20mg lower than a cup of brewed coffee.



The espresso beans are heated until they are dark in color. This is because it raises the beans’ capacity to endure high pressure when they undergo the brewing process. Also, a dark roast delivers a full body with a low acid level, making it suitable to pair it with milk. Coffee beans roasted lighter are ideal for pour-overs, bringing out brighter and fruitier tastes of coffee.


A shot of espresso is a mixture of a variety of coffee beans, so what does espresso taste like? The subdued acidity gives you the sought-after sweet balance to bitter savors.

On the other hand, regular drip coffee does not offer the full range of flavors of the coffee beans because the filter paper retains the natural oils. The lengthier brewing time hinders the coffee from developing its full flavors.



The smell of coffee is a strong sign of how it would taste like. Both drip coffee and espresso may give you a whiff of smoky, herbal, and nutty & fruity aroma, depending on the coffee beans used. However, you should note that they should not smell burnt as it dictates your coffee is incorrectly prepared.



What makes coffee desirable is the tang of bitterness tasted at the back of your mouth, this is especially the case for espresso. If you are looking for a well-balanced taste for your espresso shot, you may choose Arabica coffee beans (1) because Robusta coffee beans come off as stronger and bitterer. This gives you a full flavor shot of espresso.

Acidity and pH Level


A normal cup of coffee normally has a level 5 pH level, which means it has less acidity than drinking tomato juice. Coffee is also more acidic than milk (2) as cow’s milk is anywhere between 6.4-6.8.

Phytic and tannic acids are naturally present in coffee beans and they are responsible for the bitter taste in the mouth, which is often referred to as acidity.

The acidity level of your coffee is highly dependent on the coffee bean used as well as the brewing method. The darker you roast, the less acidic the brew in both flavor and pH level. The length of the extraction process affects the phytic and tannic acids in your cup.

If your coffee has a shorter extraction time, it hampers acids from leaking into your serving. This is an indicator to see if these acids have seeped into your espresso is when the dark color of the crema becomes lighter.



A cup of brewed coffee and a shot of espresso have magnesium, calcium, and potassium, but espresso has 3X more magnesium in an ounce of a shot than a regular 8oz of brewed coffee. The average drip coffee offers higher calcium and potassium levels.

You can have up to 5 espresso shots in one day (3) as stated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and experience no health complications. Drinking 400 milligrams of caffeine is perfectly okay for healthy individuals.

In other words, you can drink 4 cups of the standard coffee size (4) as an eight-ounce of coffee contains approximately 100 milligrams of caffeine.

Serving Size


As mentioned earlier, the standard size of a cup of coffee is eight ounces while the serving size of the espresso is an ounce. In some beverages, espresso is added to coffee. There are drinks where you can add 3 shots of espresso to your cup of coffee, such as the Dead Eye.

Espresso is the base for many drinks, including lattes and mocha cafes. If you prefer to drink espresso without mixing it with milk or other components, then you can drink as is for that instant kick.

Espresso vs Coffee: Summary

In the heated debate between Espresso vs. Drip Coffee, there is no definite winner and still boils down to personal preference. If you want to savor the moment and drink the coffee in a calm and relaxing fashion, a cup of regular drip coffee is best.

However, if you are running late on time and you need a quick, perk-me-up drink, gulping down a shot of espresso never fails to wake you up. Both drip coffee and espresso are ideal for different situations and various environmental settings.

Learn more from the best drip coffee maker reviews!


James Kilpatrick

Article By:

James Kilpatrick

I’m James, a self-professed coffee enthusiast in pursuit of finding the perfect daily brew and likes to live by the motto ‘Just brew it”. may earn commissions when you purchase items through links to external source such as Amazon. Read our affiliate disclosure here.