Is Espresso Equivalent to a Cup of Coffee? [Espresso vs Drip]

When most people think of coffee, the first thing that comes to mind is a hot, black drink made from roasted beans. However, there are different ways to make coffee, and each has its own unique flavor profile and set of enthusiasts. One such way to make coffee is by using an espresso machine, and a drip coffee maker is another. Both of these drinks are quite different in taste and how they’re made or the recipes you can make out of them.

In this guide, we will look into the difference between espresso and drip coffee, in terms of the beverage itself, the grind, how it’s prepared and what you can make from each coffee type.

Espresso – What Is It and How Is It Made?


Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that is brewed by forcing pressurized water through finely ground coffee beans. This produces a thick, rich shot of espresso with a layer of crema on top.

How To Make Espresso:

espresso machine

To make Espresso, you need an espresso machine, there’s no other way around it. Because it is made by forcing hot water through the coffee grounds, a high pressure pump is needed. So there’s no alternative ways to make an espresso – but there are other ways to make ‘espresso like’ beverages.

There are many options for an espresso machine, though, and at many budgets. The easiest way would be to use a single-serve espresso machine like a Nespresso, which is also budget-friendly. Or, you can go for a semi-automatic or manual machine, which are considered a lot of work, but are more of an authentic way to make espresso at home.

Espresso Drinks:

espresso drinks

Espresso can be enjoyed on its own as a single shot (1oz) or double shot (2oz) or as a Lungo (about 3.5 oz). Espresso is also the base of most popular coffee drinks like Latte, Cappuccino, Macchiato and most iced coffee drinks.


On its own, Espresso is quite a strong tasting drink. While there are a lot of people who enjoy it, others still prefer to mix it with milk, or make it as a longer shot (Lungo) which takes away from the bitterness and strength.

Type of Coffee and Coffee Grind Size:

When making espresso, you can use any coffee beans you prefer. Light roast, medium or dark roast. When it comes to Espresso, the roast doesn’t matter as much as the grind size.

Coffee for espresso has to be fine grind, any other grind size would make an awful shot of espresso. If you don’t plan on grinding your own beans, then make sure you buy coffee that is labeled for espresso machine use.

Is Espresso Roast or Espresso Beans Required to Make Espresso?

I’ve seen a lot of brands selling what the call ‘Espresso beans’ or ‘Espresso roast’. This is simply a marketing jargon that refers to the roasting profile of the beans. Commercially, Espresso roast or beans are just dark roasted beans that will taste very strong, whether you brew them as espresso or as drip coffee or any other brewing method.

For Espresso machines, you can use any coffee beans you prefer. Most people prefer to use Medium roast beans, actually, because it produces a balanced shot of espresso that mixes really well with milk, bringing out its natural sweetness.

Drip Coffee – What Is It and How Is It Made?

Drip coffee maker

Drip coffee is a method of making coffee using hot water poured over ground coffee beans. It is enjoyed in larger volumes and it’s generally a lighter drink that espresso.

How To Make Drip Coffee

There are many ways to make drip coffee, the most popular one would be a drip coffee machine. Other automated ways would be a single-serve brewer like Keurig, which uses K-Cup pods to brew single servings of coffee.

If you prefer manual brewers, you can use something like a Chemex, a Hario V60 or a Clever Dripper.

Drip Coffee Drinks

Drip coffee can be enjoyed black or mixed with milk or creamers. You can also add ice to it to make your favorite iced coffee drink, even though that’s not the ideal way to do it. For iced drinks, you’ll want something bolder like Espresso, so when the ice starts melting, it won’t taste watered down.

Type of Coffee and Grind Size

Like Espresso, you can choose any type of coffee you want. Any roast or blend would work, as long as you use the correct grind size.

For drip coffee, you’ll want to use medium to medium coarse grounds. Using find grounds would make your coffee taste very bitter and unpleasant.

Espresso vs Drip Coffee:

espresso vs drip coffee

Which Coffee Has the Most Caffeine?

The caffeine content in a single shot of espresso is usually around 75-100 mg. A cup of drip coffee has around 95-200 mg of caffeine, depending on the type of beans you use as well as the amount.

Because Espresso is stronger concentrate of coffee, people assume that it has higher caffeine content, but that’s not necessarily the case here. Drip coffee can easily have more caffeine than espresso and vice versa. How, you say? Keep reading..

Caffeine content depends on the type of coffee beans you use, it’s origin and type (Arabica or Robusta), and then the amount of coffee you use. Lighter beans also have MORE caffeine than darker roasts, because they’ve not been exposed to high heat, they keep most of their properties like caffeine.

The brewing style in which you make your coffee does NOT affect the amount of caffeine in your coffee, it merely affects the taste of your brew. The type of bean and roasting profile is what effects the caffeine content.

Is Espresso Better Than Drip Coffee?

No brewing method is ‘definitely’ better than another. The variety of coffee brewing methods are available to give us a range of tasting profiles for the same beans, as well as different uses.

You can use the same bag of coffee beans to make either a pot of drip coffee, or a shot of espresso, or a creamy cup of Latte, and it will have its own unique taste in each brewing method.

So it’s not a matter of which tastes better, but rather what do you prefer to drink.

Is Espresso or Drip Coffee Healthier To Consume Everyday?

If you have some health concerns that you have to watch out for, like Cholesterol for example, then Drip coffee is your better ‘everyday’ drink. Here’s why:

Drip coffee uses a paper filter for preparation, which catches a lot of the coffee’s oils, sediments and harmful elements like Cafestol, which has been linked to raising LDL cholesterol levels.

Espresso, on the other hand, doesn’t use a paper filter and all of these oils, sediments, and Cafestol are retained in the drink.

Just by looking at the two drinks, you can see how thick espresso is with the oily Crema top, while drip coffee has a much lighter consistency thanks to the paper filter and higher water ratio.

Can You Make Drip Coffee in an Espresso Machine?

Like we mentioned above, drip and espresso use two different machines to prepare coffee. Espresso uses high pressure pump while a drip machine slowly drips water over grounds to brew a pot or a cup.

So to answer the question, no, an espresso machine cannot make drip coffee. But you can make an alternative to drip coffee, which is an Americano.

Americano vs. Drip – What’s the Difference?

Americano, is the Italian version of drip coffee, made using Espresso. To make an Americano, you can make a single or double shots of espresso, then add hot water to it, as much as you prefer. While it doesn’t taste exactly the same as drip coffee, it does have the same light body and volume of drip coffee.

Final Thoughts

Drip coffee and espresso are two entirely different brewing methods, each with its own unique characteristics; flavor, strength and caffeine content. Drip coffee is usually preferred for larger servings of lighter coffee drinks, while espresso for stronger shots to be enjoyed by themselves or mixed into other drinks like lattes.

When it comes to health, drip coffee is the better choice for everyday consumption since it filters out unhealthy elements like Cafestol. However, espresso can still be enjoyed occasionally without any health issues.

Ultimately, the decision of which one to drink comes down to personal preference.