Coffee is a way of life for a lot of people. It’s the thing that gets you up and gets you going in the morning, helps you recover from the mid-afternoon crash, and can keep your energy up during long days at the office.
But, coffee aficionados will attest to how different the different kinds of coffee can be. There are a lot of small things that can make coffee taste and smell different, and different preparations can even impact the caffeine and micronutrient content.
What about espresso? What, other than the smaller serving size, makes espresso different?
Here’s what you need to know about these different kinds of coffee, what makes them different, how to prepare them, and more!
|Caffeine Per Oz (average)||60mg||11mg|
|Serving Size||1 oz||6 oz|
|Typical Prep||Highly concentrated coffee grounds, boiling water poured over||Loose coffee grounds, boiling water poured over.|
What is Coffee
Coffee is where both of these dishes started, and is both the older and in some ways, the more traditional of the two drinks.
Modern coffee is thought to have been created in Ethiopia. It’s actually thought that the caffeine in coffee was discovered by shepherds noticing their goats getting a lot more hyper after eating certain berries.
Over time, the modern fermentation and roasting process for coffee beans has been standardized so that we can produce very specific results from every harvest.
Modern coffee, beans, or grounds, are the result of a multistep process from planting to harvest and processing. From there, people can customize their finished drink using different kinds of prep and additional ingredients.
Different Types of Coffee
There are literally hundreds of different ways to make coffee and to turn prepared coffee into different drinks.
While some people genuinely prefer their coffee black, most people do add cream, sugar, or some other flavoring and sweetening ingredients to their finished drink.
We’re not going to focus on those in this section though. Instead, let’s look at the different kinds of coffee itself. A lot of people don’t know the main differences or have misconceptions about the level of caffeine in different preparations.
- Light Roast: Light roast is the caffeine king, despite popular conceptions saying the opposite. This kind of coffee has more caffeine, tends to be a little sweeter and grassier than other roasts, and gives the most room for other flavors in a coffee drink.
- Medium Roast: Medium roasts are very common for home coffee makers because they nicely balance the flavor and caffeine content in the finished drink. Slightly more coffee flavor, less grassy flavors, and some chocolate notes are all common in medium roasts. A good all-purpose option.
- Dark Roast: Dark roasts are one of the most popular roasts, common both at home and in coffee shops, this coffee actually has the least caffeine, but the strongest coffee flavor. Smokey and chocolatey notes are common with this roast, but it does also tend to be bitter and need more sweetening compared with other roasts.
There are other kinds of coffee aside from these roasts, but these are the basics that will help you get started.
How Do You Make Coffee?
Making coffee is a bit of a different story. Here, technique and added ingredients make a huge difference in the finished drink. Even your water temperature makes a big difference.
Most people use a drip coffee maker at home unless they have an espresso maker. Even then though, the process is very similar.
However, you can also use a French press, or even a simple pot of water and a filter to make your coffee. Some people even drink coffee with the grounds still in the drink!
There are some tips we want to pass on here though. First, your water temperature matters. The hotter the water the faster your brewing time, but the more bitter the drink is likely to be. When you add sugar or flavoring also matters. To bring out chocolatey or caramel flavors in your coffee, you may actually want to add sugar during the brewing process instead of after the coffee is finished.
Delicious Coffee Ingredients To Try
There are a ton of ingredients you could add to coffee. Popular ones include sugar and milk or cream, but honey, artificial sweeteners, and flavored syrups are all almost as common.
Spices and fruit or fruit syrups can also add interesting flavors to your coffee.
If you prefer nut milks or other milk alternatives like coconut milk, it might be worth experimenting with different options to find the right milk for your tastes.
Great Coffee Recipes You Should Try
For our coffee recipes today we're going to be learning from All Recipes since they offer a wide variety of different options.
What Is Espresso?
Now that we know a bit more about coffee, let’s talk about espresso.
Espresso is a much more concentrated form of coffee, which often requires specialized preparation since loose coffee grounds just don’t produce the level of concentration required for espresso.
The trick is to really pack finely ground coffee beans into a small filter before running water through the coffee.
Espresso is almost always made with very hot water as well, which increases the speed of infusion, but it does actually slightly reduce the caffeine content.
Not that that reduction makes a big difference though, since a single oz of coffee has roughly the same amount of caffeine as six oz of regular coffee.
Different Styles Of Espresso
There are literally a TON of different kinds of espresso and espresso-based drinks. Cappuccino, macchiatos, latte, americano, mochas, and flat whites are all often made with espresso.
However, they aren’t mostly espresso. Instead, these drinks are typically made with 1-2 shots of espresso. Some drinks, like a red eye, can go as high as 4-6 shots of espresso, but most don’t use more than two.
Instead, the majority of those other drinks are steamed milk, cream, sweetener, ice, or other flavorings.
That said, some people do drink espresso on its own or with only a small amount of cream and sugar. The tiny 2-3 oz mugs are made specifically for espresso, and people who enjoy drinking their espresso this way often say that it’s the best way to really taste and appreciate the flavor of the coffee.
Espresso can be made with any roast of coffee, but dark roasts are the most common.
How Do You Make Espresso At Home?
Generally, if you're going to make espresso at home you'll need an espresso maker. You can increase the amount of grounds in your coffee machine to get close to espresso, but both the concentration of the coffee and the speed of brewing are critical for espresso.
Basically, without the right tools to make your espresso, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to make a true cup of espresso, and most people prefer to use the automatic machines that do most of the work for you.
Espresso Ingredients and Toppings To Experiment With
Espresso often works really well with chocolate and can be a good combination with spices as well. It's important to make sure you're using high-quality additional ingredients if you want to get the best flavor.
Some people also prefer brown sugar to white sugar in espresso, since it helps cut the bitterness, but adds its own caramel flavors that complement the flavor of the coffee itself. Whipped cream or steamed milk are also both used to help thicken the drink, which cuts the bitterness and improves the flavor.
Top Espresso Recipes You’re Sure To Love
If you're looking to learn to make top-quality espresso from the comfort of your own home, these recipes can help!
A Couple of Cooks has a good recipe for making espresso at home, with a variety of different tools to make espresso as accessible as possible. Once you’ve got good espresso to work with, you can use the Spruce Eats recipe for a flat white made to impress.
Wrapping Up: What are the key differences between Espresso and Coffee?
The biggest differences between coffee and espresso are in how these drinks are brewed. Espresso uses more coffee grounds and packs the grounds into a small space to help improve the concentration of the drink.
Coffee uses fewer grounds and only packs them loosely, resulting in a milder and less caffeinated drink.
That’s really it!
There are other details about the preparation or other ingredients in each drink, but it’s all about the grounds when it comes to telling between the two.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: Which is healthier, coffee or espresso?
Neither of these drinks is inherently worse that the other, though espresso can be more dehydrating because of its high concentration. Usually, the biggest nutritional and caloric differences come from other ingredients in the coffee. So, whichever you can drink with less cream and sugar will probably be better for you.
Q2: Is an espresso just a shot of coffee?
No. Espresso is highly concentrated coffee brewed very quickly and at a high temperature, which results in higher concentrations of coffee, caffeine, and other micronutrients per oz.
Q3: Why does coffee hurt my stomach, but espresso doesn’t?
This is down to brewing time. The less brewing time, the better for your stomach. Since espresso is brewed under pressure, it brews faster and is easier on your stomach.
Q4: Is espresso inflammatory?
No. Actually, both coffee and espresso have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.