Those who adore coffee will know that espresso is a separate entity. However, not everyone will know the facts that make the two so different. The following is an overview of the differences between coffee and espresso, including flavour, origin and preparation methods.
What Does Espresso Mean?
Espresso is a recommendation for how coffee beans should be used. Espresso beans are often dark roasted, require a fine grind, and must be prepared using an espresso machine.
Although some of the espresso machines available are expensive, there are just as many affordable options that allow you to prepare barista-style espresso in the comfort of your kitchen.
Espresso is an Italian term that means to force hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. It also refers to a single serving in Italian coffee shops, as it helps separate the beverage from coffee, which is brewed in a pot.
Is There a Difference in Beans?
Given the different texture and taste an espresso offers compared to coffee, some can assume that the origin of coffee and espresso differs, but they may both derive from the coffee bean.
There are two coffee beans used commercially known as Robusta and Arabica. The Robusta coffee bean has a nutty tone when roasted and often contains a high amount of caffeine.
Pinpointing the taste of an Arabica bean can be difficult as it can depend on the coffee bean. In general, Arabica beans tend to have a sweet and floral flavour.
So, although there can be different coffee beans, coffee and espresso originate from the same source.
The Processes Used
There are plenty of ways to prepare a cup of coffee. Some may use the latest technology with coffee pods, whereas others prefer classic methods such as a French Press. Whatever process is used to make a cup of coffee, it will differ from that used to make espressos.
Espresso preparation was often carried out in coffee shops because of the equipment needed to maintain the high pressure required. Fortunately, the cost of espresso machines is now affordable, and many will come complete with a grinder to ensure that the grounds are fine enough to make an espresso.
The pressure of an espresso machine allows for quick brewing and helps develop the crema and introduce rich coffee oils to the shot.
In comparison, filter coffee relies on gravity to make java. A Moka pot or French press will have varying pressure levels, although not comparable to those of espresso machines.
One of the main components of espresso is crema, but those trying espresso for the first time may not know what this is.
What Is Crema?
The crema is the dark tan foam that sits on the surface of an espresso. Although crema does not affect the taste of an espresso, it is often considered a good indication of quality. Therefore, you will come across crema frequently when discussing high-quality espressos.
How Is Crema Made?
Crema is created during the extraction process and occurs when the coffee beans and water emulsify. Although Co2 is released when roasting coffee beans, some can remain. The remaining Co2 is released during grinding and, when mixed with the oils and water, creates a foam layer.
The Amount of Caffeine
Many believe espresso contains more caffeine than coffee, but this is not always the case. An espresso contains between 40 and 70 mg, whereas a cup of coffee can contain between 85 and 185 mg.
The confusion can often be because espresso contains more caffeine per ounce. As such, the amount of caffeine in either instance will depend on the amount consumed.
The Difference in Taste
Given how many different blends are available, there will be times when flavour profiles seem like another. However, the taste of espresso and coffee is often quite different.
Espresso has a bold and full-bolded taste that is more intense than coffee. An example of the taste comparison between espresso and other beverages is as follows.
What Is the Difference Between Espresso and Americano?
The Americano can cause a lot of confusion because the foundation of the beverage is espresso-based. The Americano is a diluted espresso and is prepared by pouring espresso into a mug, then topped with the preferred water ratio.
The taste will be like espresso, only with a diluted profile. This coffee is perfect for those who like the taste of espresso but not the intensity.
What Is the Difference Between Espresso and Cappuccino?
As with the Americano, a cappuccino contains espresso, but the flavour profile is entirely different. One to two shots of espresso is used as the foundation of the cappuccino, which is partnered with hot milk and foam. Cinnamon or chocolate will also be added, which balances out the strong profile of the espresso.
The hot milk also offers a light and subtle taste that allows other flavours to be introduced.
What is the Difference Between Espresso and Moka Pot Coffee
Although Moka pot coffee can offer similar flavours and aromas to es[ressp, drip coffee is less intense than espresso, simply because of the brewing method used. This doesn’t mean Moka pot coffee doesn’t make a delicious beverage, but those who like bold and intense flavours will find espresso is the better fit.
Espresso or Coffee: Which is Best?
Although many will have tried an espresso or coffee in the past, just as many will want to sample one or the other for the first time, many will ask which is better, coffee or espresso? The truth is it depends on what you want to drink.
Those wanting a simple beverage that is bold and full of flavour will find an espresso is perfect. However, coffee is the best choice if you want to experiment with different milk, syrups, and flavourings.
Of course, some enjoy both in equal measures, and in both instances, you can sample a beverage that not only keeps you alert but can have many health benefits in some cases.