Wait, isn't Espresso coffee?
Yes! Because coffee is the liquid extracted from the bean, not the method of preparation, it is technically considered coffee. The main difference between espresso and coffee is not the bean, but rather the grinding and brewing processes, so all espresso is coffee, but not all coffee is espresso.
Every Big Difference Between Coffee and Espresso
1. Brewing Method
What’s the difference between espresso and coffee? When it comes down to it, espresso’s brewing method is what really sets it apart. Other methods of brewing take time because they rely on the slow filtering of hot water through your coffee grounds. This means several minutes stand between you and fresh coffee.
Espresso machines pressurize and shoot near-boiling water through finely-ground coffee beans packed into cakes. This method of making espresso gives you a complex, aromatic, and caffeine-packed shot of coffee in under thirty seconds.
Despite differences in pressure between brewing methods for coffee and espresso, they share one very important similarity: brewing temperature. The ideal brewing temperature for any coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your next question is probably “does espresso taste different than coffee?”, and to that, we say it’s worth noting that espresso and coffee actually do taste a bit different.
A shot of espresso tends to boast a bolder flavor than a mug of drip brew. This is probably because it’s not made with a filter, so none of the flavor-filled oils are lost. Drip coffee, on the other hand, is less intense.
The lever of an espresso machine is the switch for pure coffee magic. High pressure is not just the cornerstone of quick brewing, it also helps develop the crema and disperse rich coffee oils into the final espresso shot.
Filtered coffee relies on gravity to drive the water through the ground coffee to make your java. If you’re using a Moka pot or even a French press, the actual pressure applied on the water and coffee is negligible when you measure in atmospheric bars.
Many espresso machines default to nine bars, which is roughly equivalent to 130 pounds per square inch (PSI). To put that figure in perspective, you would need to dive nearly 300 feet deep in the ocean to experience optimal espresso pressure.
Outin Nano portable coffee machine is industry-leading 20 Bar pressure pump brews coffee with unbelievable crema that is comparable to any countertop machines, delivering a silky smooth-tasting espresso, just like having a barista with you at all times.
It’s a ton of pressure and explains why espresso brews so strongly so quickly.
4. Ground Coffee VS Ground Espresso
After pressure, the size of the coffee grounds is paramount. We generally recommend fresh, medium-ground beans when brewing your coffee with a drip filter or percolator.
When making coffee in a French press, setting your grinder to make coarse grounds will strike a balance between releasing delicious coffee flavors without wasting or dissolving the particles — too much saturation in the grind makes coffee more bitter.
But espresso is different. The properties of the coffee cake, also called the coffee bed, determine how well the espresso is extracted. The smaller grind exposes more surface area of the beans to water. This means more efficient brewing through the short infusion process.
Of course, grounds that are too fine can clog or slow the brew. That’s because the coffee bed swells when it’s exposed to water, thanks to pressure and insoluble sugar-based carbohydrates developed during the roast.
So it’s a fine balance between small and medium grounds when you’re brewing espresso.
5. Serving Size
Another difference between espresso and coffee shows up in the serving size. The average size of a cup of coffee is 8 ounces, but a typical espresso shot is only one ounce. This is because espresso is thicker and more concentrated than regular brewed coffee, so with such a bold taste, less is definitely more.
6. Anatomy of an Espresso Shot
If you’re Italian or have spent time at an espresso bar (yes, they exist!), you know what an espresso shot looks like.
Traditionally, this dark brew is served in an unassuming China cup that can fit barely 50 milliliters (about 1.6 ounces). Properly prepared, it’s topped with a thick layer of brown, bubbly crema, or the holy grail of coffee foam.
7. the Crema
This delightful foam is the primary visual indicator of a well-extracted shot of espresso. When pressurized water is forced into the coffee cake, several reactions are thought to happen:
More delicate coffee oils blend with the hot water.
The exposure to pressure degasses the bean, which means carbon dioxide trapped from the roasting process escapes.
Bicarbonate ions in the water undergo a chemical reaction from the sudden exposure to an evolving pH of the coffee cake.
The sudden change from a high-pressure environment (the machine) to a low-pressure environment (the cup) allows the carbon dioxide to break through the espresso cell walls and bubble.
All these forces come together to create the top layer of the espresso shot. Generally, the crema can hang around for about 40 minutes — assuming your shot lasts that long. After all, espresso is Italian for expressed, as in this espresso was made for the express purpose of you drinking it immediately after brewing.