Espresso vs. Brewed Coffee

Dec 18, 2013|


Lattes, mochas, cappuccinos- some of my favorite drinks this time of year are espresso based.   It looks like I'm not alone in enjoying an occasional espresso beverage. According to the National Coffee Association, in 2012 14% of US consumers consumed an espresso based beverage a day (1).   Do you prefer brewed coffee, or espresso?  Are you asking, "What is the difference between the two?"

Both brewed coffee and espresso are beverages achieved by extracting flavor from ground, roasted coffee beans using water. However, to achieve the end result they are brewed differently.  

Espresso is brewed by forcing a small amount of hot water under pressure (9-10 atmospheres) through tightly packed, finely ground coffee. This process results in a "shot" of intensely flavored beverage that is topped with rich brown, buttery coffee foam known as crma.  Due to its concentrated nature espresso serves as base for many caf beverages which add steamed or frothed milk. For a list of common caf drinks and what comprise them check out our Coffee Ordering Lingo Cheat Sheet.


Brewed coffee refers to hot water coming into contact with pre-ground beans for at least one minute.  A number of brewing methods exist to achieve brewed coffee including: BUNN brewers, French press, pour-over method, etc.  When brewed properly, the result is a delicious cup of coffee. 



 Factors such as grind size, amount of coffee used  and brew time differ between these two beverages.  Check out the chart below for more information. 


Brewed Coffee


Preparation Method

BUNN brewer, french press, vacuum brewer, drip machines and percolators.

Espresso machine, or a Stovetop espresso pot (Moka Pot).

Amount of Coffee

2 tablespoons to 6 ounces of water.


7- 9 grams per .85 to 1.2 ounces of water. (2)

Grind Size

Fine or Drip Grind

Very Fine --  consistency should be between cornmeal and flour

Brew Time

 Fine Grind- A brewing time of less than 4 minutes


Drip grind- Greater than 4 but less than 6 minutes


20-30 seconds (2)


Caffeine Content

95 mg (8 ounce mug) (3)


64 mg (1 oz) (4)


(1)    2012 National Coffee Drinking Trends, National Coffee Association of U.S.A.

(2)    Introduction to Espresso, Specialty Coffee Association of America

(3)    USDA National Nutrient Database for Brewed Coffee\

(4)    USDA National Nutrient Database for Espresso



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