What is the Difference Between Coffee and Espresso?

For most people who are lovers of caffeine, the line between coffee and espresso can be a bit fuzzy. Both are tasty, both have caffeine and both come from beans that smell delicious. But what makes them different? Let Port City Java help clarify this burning question!

The main difference between espresso and drip coffee is the preparation method used. There is no plant that grows espresso beans or roasting style that makes espresso beans. The beans that are used to make espresso can be a blend of different coffees or one specific type of coffee bean.

In general, espresso is prepared using a much finer grind than what would be used to prepare drip coffee. These grinds are then tamped with 30-40 pounds of pressure into a portafilter basket so they are very compact. This prevents the water from blowing a hole into the grinds and making a poorly pulled shot. The time it takes for the hot water (nearly 200 degrees!) to run through the grinds should take around 15-20 seconds every time a single or double shot is pulled. Any longer or shorter amount of time will affect the way the shot looks and tastes.

There are three main parts to the espresso shot: The heart, which is the dark part at the bottom, the body, which is the middle part and the crema, which is the frothy top layer. After about 10 seconds, the shot will die and lose the distinct three parts. Not to mention it will taste so bad you’ll forget you need the caffeine in the first place.


Drip coffee, on the other hand, is a bit easier and more common to understand. Whether you’re brewing coffee at home or at coffee shop, the premise is basically the same. Medium ground coffee (like beach sand) is measured out according to the brew pot size. The grounds are then placed in a paper filter and into a brew basket. Hot water (200 degrees!) is pulsated over the grounds to extract the flavor of the beans and gravity takes care of the rest. Instead of the 10 second life that espresso shots have, coffee will stay hot and delicious for up to two hours if stored correctly. Some may argue that it tastes great even after that, but at Port City Java we don’t take any chances. After two hours, a fresh pot of coffee is under the brewer and ready to go.

Coffee Gif

Keep an eye out for our follow-up blog post that will discuss the difference in caffeine content for espresso and drip coffee!

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