Espresso Vs Coffee Taste - Which Is Better And Why!

Espresso Vs Coffee Taste – Which Is Better And Why!

Last updated on January 22nd, 2024 at 13:13

One thing the vast majority of the world do when they wake up in the morning is brew up a Cuppa Joe and often debated and questioned is the Espresso Vs Coffee taste which is better and what the differences are.

This is exactly what I will go into in this article. By the time you have finished reading this article, you will know all about Espresso and the relationship to regular coffee and how they differ, and which is better and why.

What Is Espresso?

An Espresso is a short shot of intense coffee that has its origins in Italy after the invention of the espresso machine by Angel Moriondo in 1884 where his invention uses 9 to 10 bars of pressure to force almost boiling water of 92C to 96C (195F to 205F) through very finely ground coffee beans that are dark roasted.

The result is a shot of espresso coffee with a rich light reddish brown crema on top. The crema is a product of the air bubbles combining with the finely ground coffee grounds soluble oils.

This crema is distinctive of an espresso or a ristretto, a focused slightly stronger espresso shot and cannot be replicated without a high-powered espresso machine. You can try to replicate it but without the water pressure you can’t.

What Is Espresso
An Espresso.

Read: How to dry oily coffee beans

Are Espresso Beans And Regular Coffee Beans The Same?


well, sort of. I’ll explain, there are only 4 different types of coffee beans with the majority some 90% are Arabica (60%) and Robusta (30%). The remaining 2 that make up the remaining 10% are Excelsa and Liberica.

Espresso and other regular coffee beans are by the majority Arabica or Robusta beans, with Espresso a blend with some Robusta added to increase the caffeine content. In this aspect, both espresso beans and other regular coffee beans are the same.

This is something that holds true with literally all types of coffee, unless you happen upon Excelsa or Liberica beans, which are difficult to both find and source due to their rarity.

The difference between all coffee beans, other than specialty beans and one of single origin is the roast level. An espresso is not a particular coffee bean; it’s a roast, a level of dark roast. Any coffee bean can become an espresso through the roasting process.

Espresso Vs Coffee Taste
Espresso Beans And Regular Coffee Beans Are Not The Same

Read: How to choose espresso machine

Can You Make An Espresso With Regular Coffee Beans?


again, this is one of those “yes, but sort of” answers. You can certainly grind to a fine powder and use them to make an espresso in your special espresso machine, or a machine for espresso extraction like an aeropress (which does only a reasonable job at espresso extraction) you will end up with a shot of espresso that is rather sour, tart and off tasting.

A true espresso with a full-bodied taste and rich crema will work only with a dark roast as you need the coffee oils to be more present to get that crema.

Note: You can get an espresso from a blonde roast; however it takes a bit of a variation to the brewing process and a bit of practice to get it spot on. It tastes great, but here in this article we are focusing on an espresso in the traditional sense.

What Is The Difference Between Espresso And Regular Coffee?

To be very specific, the difference between espresso and regular coffee is related to how the cup of coffee is prepared and the roast of the beans must be an espresso roast. These are the important aspects of what makes the distinctive concentrated coffee that Italians love.

Let’s talk about how Espresso Vs. Coffee compares how they match up and differ.

Coffee Vs Espresso – The Grind

The required grind size for an espresso is markedly much finer and very powder like than other brewing processes, methods and types of coffee such as drip brewed coffee, French press, cold brew and so on.

Very few coffees, other than an espresso and Turkish coffee, use a fine grind.

The reason for such a fine grind is due to the short contact time between the hot water and the coffee grounds. The typical contact time is typically 25 seconds.

Regular coffee will require various grind sizes but does not require a fine grind. A French press and cold brew, for example, need a coarse ground size.

The Roast Level

Espresso beans are darker roasted as they are roasted at a slightly higher temperature and for longer than coffee beans that are medium roast and medium-dark roast, which are the typical roast levels for drip coffee, black coffee (Aka Caffe Americano), or other normal coffee drinks.

Espresso beans are roasted longer and darker than the beans used for drip coffee.

The Brewing Methods & Brewing Time

This is one of the bigger variations you can get when comparing two types of coffee as no two brew methods are similar and the taste of coffee produced is very different when using the same beans, the same water and all other variables being the same.

For a regular or normal cup of coffee you can brew with a chemex, a siphon coffee machine, a French press, a moka pot. Each one, each brewing method and type of brewing process produces different results and a slightly different coffee.

To brew up an espresso or an espresso-based drink like a latte, a cortado, a flat white, you will need an espresso machine. An Aeropress is a good close second but does not quite hit the spot.

A regular coffee pot cannot brew an espresso, neither can a moka pot nor French press and so on, does not produce the pressure required for the proper extraction process to produce the crema.

The Taste Of An Espresso Vs Coffee

When your coffee grounds are in contact with the water, the coffee oils and flavonoids and other compounds that affect and contribute to the flavor profile of the coffee.

The different compounds within the beans get extracted at different pressures, temperatures, and different brewing times.

Hence, the different brewing times, temperatures and, in the case of an espresso, the water pressures.

The earthy compounds are extracted quicker and before the bitter compounds, which take longer. This is where brew times and the effect they have on the taste of a coffee. Longer extraction times result in a more bitter coffee, especially when over brewed and over extracted.

The different brewing methods, techniques and their different contact times and brewing times make a cup of coffee that tastes very different when the same exact coffee beans are used. The reason for this is due to how the compounds are extracted and which ones.

If this is something you question, then try brewing a coffee with a French press, a drip brew, cold brew and an espresso shot.

After trying this combination of coffee brewing techniques, you will note just how different they taste.

An espresso has a distinct a taste. It is smooth and sweet on your tongue with no bitter, sour or ash-like tastes. The taste will linger on your palate in a pleasant fashion. Its texture is notably thicker than drip coffee.

The Taste Of An Espresso Vs Coffee
A French Press Makes A Tasty Coffee

Espresso Vs Coffee Caffeine Content

It is often thought, believed and stated that an espresso is much stronger than regular coffee. This is only partially true.

A regular coffee by most brewing methods has more caffeine than a shot of espresso. A French press coffee for example, has 150 mg per 12 ounces (360ml) cup where as an espresso has around 60 mg of caffeine.

However, on a per ounce or per milliliter basis, an espresso has more caffeine.

Does Espresso Taste Like Black Coffee?

No, not at all.

An espresso, especially a double shot, might give you the impression that it will taste like a black coffee. An espresso has a more intense flavor and ratio of those flavor compounds.

If you were able to make a double espresso with the same beans and same brewing technique and process as you would make a black coffee and add more hot water you will still not get the same taste. It will just taste like a weak and watery espresso.

Does Espresso Taste Like Black Coffee
An Espresso Tastes Nothing Like Black Coffee

Do You Drink Espresso Straight?


an espresso, be it a double shot or my own favorite, a double ristretto is supposed to be drunk straight. You can have it with a mini dark chocolate.

Why Is Espresso So Small?

An espresso is brewed by means of pressure; water pressurizes the coffee grounds, which produces a crema layer at the top. For this crema to be produced, it needs a small cup. If a larger cup and more coffee is used, the crema layer spreads out and gets dissipated over the larger area.

Frequently Asked Questions About Espresso Vs Coffee Taste

Which tastes better is subjective and varies from person to person. If you are the type of coffee drinker or coffee lover that enjoys a bolder tasting brew and cup of coffee then an espresso will be the better coffee for you. If you want to sip and enjoy a casual drinking experience, a regular coffee will be more suited for you.

Everyone’s taste is different and there are many reasons why some people prefer an espresso over a regular coffee. Some people enjoy a bolder tasting brew of strong dark roasted coffee bean and a shot of espresso that this type of coffee has.

Is Espresso Bitter Than Coffee?

Yes, espresso has a more pronounced bitter taste than a cup of drip coffee, French press coffee and many other types of coffee drinks. It is a strong, focused and highly caffeinated shot of coffee.

What Is So Special About Espresso?

An espresso is special due to the way in which it is brewed, the grind size and the flavor that it extracts from the very finely ground coffee. It’s bolder, stronger than a cup of drip coffee and be used as the base for many more coffee beverages.

Yes, if you add a dash of milk to a shot of espresso it becomes an Italian classic, a macchiato. Add more milk, twice as much as there is espresso and a fine cap of foam and the drink becomes a latte. Yes, you can add steamed milk to espresso.

Is Espresso Or Coffee Harder On Your Stomach?

Yes, a shot of espresso is much easier on your stomach than other coffee drinks due to being less acidic. This is due to most espresso shots being brewed with dark roast coffee beans

Frappé-Ing It All Up – Espresso Vs Coffee Taste

After reading this there is no question about the Espresso vs Coffee Taste and how they are very different. My own preference for which is the best is of course, subjective, is an espresso. It is very distinct, unique and is the base for many of the milk based coffee drinks for a reason.

With that said, I am also a fan of regular coffee and when I brew a regular coffee, a non-espresso, I am a sucker for using a French press. With a French press, you have full control of all the variables and can, and will brew up a delicious cup of coffee.

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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