Espresso vs. Drip coffee - Are they the same?

For many, a cup of coffee is a vital part of their morning routine. This is true whether you have your drip machine set to start at six in the morning or enjoy the process of pulling a shot of espresso yourself. For many folks, it’s hard to imagine getting the day going without a hot drink that awakens your senses and opens up your mind to the necessary to-dos and possibilities. Without having tasted both kinds as a comparison, you might not know the difference between espresso or drip coffee taste. Both use coffee beans and hot water to achieve their unique taste, but their methods and beans tend to differ. Let’s explore the two so that the next time you’re looking to change up your coffee game, you can give each a try.

What is Espresso?

When you hear the word espresso, what comes to mind? To many of us, it’s an intense shot of rich coffee that leaves you with a serious energy boost to kick start the day. Though this is true, many myths surround this aromatic espresso.

First and foremost, the term espresso does not refer to the name of the drink but rather the actual method of brewing. This process involves super-fine coffee grounds that are brewed using hot water and an immense amount of pressure. Espresso is made with the help of a dedicated espresso machine that can provide the necessary water temperature and pressure.

The end result – if done right – is a well-balanced shot of coffee with a fine, frothy layer of crema on top. The crema plays an important role, indicating the freshness of the beans used and the strength of the espresso. The darker the crema, the stronger the espresso.

Due to the extremely fine grounds, the flavour you get is also more intense when using the espresso method. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s only suitable for hardened palettes and caffeine addicts. A good shot of espresso can be as delightful and more flavourful compared to regular drip coffee, combining sweet aromas, low tones, and a creamy, rich body.

Beyond the simple shot of espresso, this brewing method can also be used for other iconic Italian coffee beverages. These are often consumed in the form of lattes, cappuccinos, and americanos, where steamed milk or hot water is added to dilute the intensity.

What is Drip Coffee?

Compared to a shot of espresso, drip coffee has a simpler profile and is well-rounded since it’s more watered down. This makes it cleaner and easier to drink. It is a popular method in many countries, originating in France and gaining  popularity throughout the 19th century. This process offers a more accessible way to enjoy the hot drink that so many coffee enthusiasts love. 

To brew a standard size of drip coffee, it takes a certain amount of coffee beans, depending on your machine, for a standard mug. But for espresso, typically more grams of coffee are used to pull a shot, which is in a much smaller cup. So, for those who have never tried espresso before, it would be like taking your mug of drip coffee and increasing the flavour substantially.

Caffeine Content

Though many believe drip coffee has less caffeine, it actually contains more on average compared to espresso. Naturally, it would make sense to assume the caffeine content of espresso is higher – after all, isn’t that the whole point of it? 

This is a myth. Drip coffee has more caffeine due to the increased volume of water that goes through the coffee grounds. The more water that passes through, the more caffeine that enters your cup. With espresso, less water is passing through, delivering a smaller dosage of caffeine to your beverage. It is as simple as that!

Brewing Methods

It doesn’t matter whether it’s drip or espresso, all coffee comes from the Coffea genus of plants. The difference boils down to the way the coffee is processed and brewed. Espresso requires a proper espresso machine because of the method of extraction and high pressure that is needed. This makes the brewing process much faster as the water and pressure combine with the grounds for approximately 20-30 seconds to pull a shot.

Alternatively, drip coffee can be brewed using a variety of methods, whether it is a French press, standard coffee machine, stovetop, or otherwise. The grounds are also more coarse, and the brewing process takes longer with more contact needed between the beans and water. This leaves you with a lighter intensity.


Coffee beans cannot be used immediately once harvested. They first must undergo a roasting process in order to be transformed into an iconic drink. Robusta and arabica are popular choices, and both have unique flavour profiles. Some believe that one is better than the other when it comes to brewing certain coffee beverages, although they may be combined during the blending process so that a rich and balanced flavour can be achieved. 

Contrary to what some might think, the caffeine content is never affected by roasting. As coffee beans are quite dense, a light roast will deliver an acidic taste since the density of the beans is harder to be penetrated by water. Dark roast, on the other hand, is roasted for longer, and the cells of the coffee beans spread, gaining volume and losing density. 

A dark roast cup of coffee is known to have more of a toasted or burnt taste due to the lengthy roasting process. The duration brings out a full-body flavour while lowering the level of acidity. This is also done to help the beans handle the high pressure during the brewing process. If you are newer to coffee drinking and aren’t sure what roast will suit your palate, a medium roast is your best bet, regardless of whether you are drinking espresso or regular coffee.

Can You Make Drip Coffee with Espresso Beans?

Despite the label names on the bags you see available in stores, you can certainly use espresso beans for drip coffee if you would like. As we have learned, the real difference in these drinks comes from the methods used to create the final product. 

Espresso beans are generally a dark roast and should be very finely ground compared to drip coffee, which tends to be a medium roast with a coarser texture. The finer grain of espresso allows the hot water to saturate fully, creating a unique flavour and a noticeable crema. Each bag of coffee beans is labelled to ensure the drinker knows how they should be treated to achieve the best flavours, but doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be used in other methods.

The drip process is simple and, although it can include more steps, some coffee drinkers prefer the taste it creates. If you would like to use espresso beans to make drip coffee, there are a few steps you’ll need to know before brewing. One process is the pour-over coffee method. You will need a coffee grinder, a kitchen scale, and a kettle (electric would be best). Oh, and don’t forget your favourite cup!

For this method to work effectively, ensure you are using considerably more water than coffee, just as would be used in a normal drip process. A general rule of thumb indicates using 18 grams of water to one gram of coffee. Being precise means your drink will be the best it can be at the end. 

Let’s get started:

  • Using your kitchen scale, weigh the beans out. The more coffee you use here, the stronger the end flavour will be. 
  • Take out your coffee grinder and granulate the beans to your liking, keeping in mind that stronger flavours come from finer grounds.
  • Place your filter into the brewer and rinse it by pouring warm water over it. This will help to eliminate any paper taste.
  • Take your fresh grounds and place them into the damp filter.
  • Using your kettle, heat your water to between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is where an electric kettle comes in handy as, once it fully boils, it will be within that temperature, no thermometer needed.
  • Let it sit for 30 seconds. While waiting, place your cup on the scale and set it to zero. 
  • Pour the water over the grounds slowly and saturate them, allowing the hot liquid to create aromatic steam as it touches the grounds. Patience is key, so wait another 30 seconds to a minute before continuing to pour.
  • After the mixture has sufficiently bloomed, pour your water in a circular motion over the grounds. Exercise control and refrain from pouring too quickly. This final step is why this method is known as the pour-over.
  • Pick up your cup and give it a taste. You should experience a depth of flavour and be able to notice the crema foaming on the top. Keep it black or add sugar and milk as you see fit.

Experience Superior Quality

Whether you’re looking for that perfect shot of espresso or a well-rounded bean for your morning brew, ORO Caffè offers the highest-quality Italian beans to give you a unique, decadent, and aromatic experience with every sip. All of our blends undergo a rigorous process to produce a rich, well-balanced cup.

We’re dedicated and passionate about coffee, which is why you’ll find everything you need to produce the perfect cup available right in our online store. Choose from our range of capsules, whole beans and espresso, equipment and machines, and much more. Make your morning cup more luxurious than ever with the help of ORO Caffè. Contact us for more details or for help with your order!