The word “coffee” comes from the Arabic word, “kaweh”. It means strength and vigor. We are all aware that coffee is very popular worldwide. Many of you reading this are probably either holding a coffee or there is a cup nearby. You can’t pass a local café anywhere without inhaling the intoxicating coffee aromas.
Next to oil, coffee is the #1 most popular commodity on the planet. People drink coffee in many creative ways…but there is another drink that is perhaps just as alluring, if not more so. Tea? Bah! Do not mention tea to me. I am talking of course about espresso, the more potent sibling to coffee. In fact, the same coffee scent that draws you in through the doors of your local café may in fact be espresso mingled with coffee.
This article aims to distinguish these two beverages, and talk about why they are the same, and yet not the same at all.
Drip coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia, Africa, in the 9th century AD.
It is almost black in color and its texture is light and watery (it is made up mostly of water). It is usually poured from a simple drip coffee maker easily and quickly, into an 8 ounce cup.
The tools you will need to make great drip coffee, whether its for home or work, include:
- Good tasting water
- A burr coffee grinder
These tools are the bare minimum you will need in terms of making great-tasting coffee. There are, of course, more. This video will demonstrate why you need more than just a coffee maker and a bag of pre-ground coffee to make the good stuff.
When drinking coffee, many people will use ceramic cups or mugs, which will keep the coffee hot longer than a porcelain or paper cup, but of course you can drink coffee out of anything, including the pot itself if you’re desperate!
Your typical coffee cup is only 8 ounces, so it won’t take long to drink it if you’ve added some cream and sugar. Being the perfect temperature for drinking with just a smidgeon of cream, just few slurps and its gone. That said, if you’re drinking the good stuff and you’re drinking it black you might want to sip away slowly and enjoy every drop.
Guzzling cup after cup of coffee is easy, but you don’t want too much caffeine in your system as it can make some people a bit edgy. There are 40 mg of caffeine in every 100 g of coffee. That said, many people drink coffee for the caffeine, to stay alert, motivated, and ready to do kung fu at any given moment.
The grinds for making coffee are medium coarse and measured according to brew pot size.
Paper filters are common and placed in a brew basket, or some other type of coffee dripper.
Be careful because your average coffee maker can eliminate some essential flavors if you don’t make it properly (eg. grinding the beans yourself, using water that tastes bad, using stale coffee, etc.)
The water temperature for brewing coffee is around 200 degrees F. and the force of gravity facilitates the dripping.
The coffee can stay hot for hours in the pot if it is well insulated. Some pots were designed for just such a purpose.
A cup of drip coffee has no calories or fats on its own, but each cup contains 2 mg of sodium.
The 49 mg of potassium in this drip coffee cup should help you with your electrolyte count, meaning that it helps to conduct electrical charges in the body. When we work out at the gym, they say to drink Gatorade just for this same reason, because it replenishes electrolytes and keeps you from passing out on the stair master.
The eight ounce cup of coffee also has 3 mg of magnesium for you, which is required for energy production in your body.
Popular methods for making a cup of coffee include pour over, Aeropress, drip brew, and more.
Espresso is a type of coffee to be sure, but it is sufficiently different from coffee to warrant being referred to as a totally different drink. The defining factor here for espresso is in the method of preparation. With espresso, “shots” are “pulled”, and within this process is what makes espresso different from coffee.
How Espresso Is Prepared
The preparation of espresso is more of an involved process than coffee. Like coffee, very hot water between 195°F to 205°F is used to make the espresso. The best espresso machines will let you control the water temperature very accurately, and temperature control is imperative for great espresso. For the best results, coffee / espresso beans should be ground up fresh using a coffee grinder that has the ability to grind finely enough. Like coffee, when the water flows through the ground coffee, it extracts flavor and from the ground coffee beans to produce the resultant liquid known as espresso. All this is very similar to coffee making.
The Difference Between Coffee And Espresso
The difference between coffee and espresso is in the way the water flows through the grinds. With coffee, the grinds are loose, whereas with espresso, the grinds are packed tightly into a portafilter (preferably a bottomless portafilter) using a tamper and 40 pounds of pressure. With coffee, the grinds are much larger than the finer grinds used for espresso, and not compacted at all.
To clarify something often asked, no, there is no difference between a coffee bean and an espresso bean. Technically, an espresso bean is a coffee bean. When they’re called espresso beans, its just because those types of coffee beans tend to make better espresso, and so makers of these beans try to distinguish them because they do result in better-tasting espresso, although any ground coffee bean can go through the espresso-making process.
To clarify further, there are coffee plants which grow coffee cherries, such as the coffea arabica plant, but there is no “espresso plant”.
With drip coffee, we talk about coffee input and water output. This is because the grinds go in the basket, we add the water, and a certain amount of coffee (which is 98.75% water and the rest soluble plant matter) is the result. This may seem like a high percentage of water in a cup of coffee but its actually the perfect amount.
With espresso, the ratio between coffee grinds (or you could call them espresso grinds too – same thing) and water is different. It gets a little complicated, depending on the type of espresso you’re making. (See the chart below for more details)
Basically, the above chart is referring to the fact that espresso is definitely a thicker, richer coffee experience than your average cup of joe, and so you don’t get so much “coffee”, which is mostly water, you get something altogether different – thicker and more potent, like a syrup. The espresso making process here involves the hot water penetrating the tightly packed coffee grinds to create this liquid, almost like squeezing a fruit to get juice from it.
The resulting liquid called “espresso” then goes into a small shot glass, and from there you can do with it as you please – latte, americano, ristretto, flat white, and so forth. One shot of espresso is equal to one fluid ounce, and your average espresso glass being somewhere between 2-3 fluid ounces. Some folks just want the espresso as is, rather than using it to create a latte or milk-based drink.
It takes about 20 seconds for the water to pass through the coffee grinds and drizzle into the cup emerging as very smooth. creamy, caramel colored liquid, with flavors that play out like a symphony for the taste buds. Voila! The 3 levels of heavenly espresso, including the crema on top, body in the middle, and the heart of the espresso beneath.
Espresso VS Coffee – And The Winner Is…?
There is no definitive answer to this question, except to say we are all the true winners here! After all, this is not really a competition, is it?
They come from the same bean, and only preparation style makes them different. Espresso and coffee are like milk chocolate and dark chocolate, and there is no way to declare one drink better than the other because both are delicious.
According to your preference, you may not favor the thick creamy blackness that is espresso, in all its potent glory. Likewise, espresso fans may find coffee to be too watery and more so enjoy the syrupy goodness of espresso.
Many of our favorite hot beverages are made with espresso – lattes, flat whites, cappuccinos…but where would the world be without just a good old fashioned cup of joe? Clearly, there is no need to decide a winner. Just enjoy both beverages and learn to love the variety that is found in both.
Cheers to coffee and espresso lovers all around the world!