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The Difference between Coffee and Espresso

Posted on September 17, 2021

Have you ever sat down with a cup of coffee and thought about the different types of coffee drinks there are? Or worse. You wanted an espresso, however ordered & got a normal coffee instead? Anything seems to be just called coffee: Espresso, latte, cappuccino but what makes them different from each other?

In this case we are specifically interested in solving the question: what is the difference between an espresso and a coffee? They essentially boil down to the same thing – caffeine. Both are sourced from the magnificent coffee bean; however, the difference lies in 1) How it is prepared, and 2) How it is served.

What is an espresso?

An espresso is a coffee made by forcing steam or boiling water through ground coffee beans for about 20 to 30 seconds, making a shot of +- 30ml pure dark coffee.

An espresso can be prepared with both espresso machines and coffee capsule machines; where boiling water is forced through the coffee capsule and the coffee inside it, brewing a delicious cuppa.

Espressos can also be prepared with “instruments” like a moka pot, or French press, but they are traditionally prepared with the mighty espresso machine.

So, what’s the difference between an espresso and a coffee?

All espresso is basically coffee, however, not all coffee is espresso. Majority of speciality coffees, such as the latte and cappuccino use an espresso as a “base” for the drink, with additional elements being added to make it a “speciality” coffee.

In the end, without overthinking things, it all comes down to using the correct termination for your coffee. If you want an espresso, do not ask for a coffee! Rather be specific in using the speciality drink terms instead to avoid confusion. This will ensure you get to enjoy your "coffee" just the way you like it!