Is Espresso Stronger Than Coffee?

Coffee drinkers, who are perhaps not familiar with espresso, may be wondering “Is espresso stronger than coffee?” The short answer is “Yes, it is.” In this article, I explain why

Espresso tastes more intense because it is a stronger brew than coffee

If you’re used to drinking regular cups of coffee, you may be wondering whether espresso is stronger than coffee. When you drink a shot of espresso, you’ll immediately notice that the taste is more intense and full-bodied.

Apart from the fact that espresso is drunk black while many coffee drinkers add milk and/or sugar to regular coffee, espresso tastes more intense because it is a stronger brew than coffee. If you’re interested in finding out why, read on.

How Is Espresso Different From Coffee?

espresso machine and two cups of espresso
Both espresso and drip coffee are brewed with the same coffee beans

Before I delve into why espresso is stronger than coffee, it’s important that you first understand what the distinction between espresso and coffee is.

Both espresso and drip coffee, which is what is generally referred to when one talks about “coffee,” are brewed with the same coffee beans. The only difference is that you’ll use a finer grind for espresso than for drip coffee. This is because espresso requires a different brewing method from drip coffee.

The Espresso-Making Process

To make espresso you need an espresso machine. This is because such a machine is able to force hot water through a “puck” of finely compacted coffee at very high pressure. This method doesn’t include a filter, which means that many of the coffee oils are allowed to escape into the final brew.

The result is a thick, concentrated beverage with an almost syrupy consistency. Good espresso always has a layer of crema on top, which is created when the hot water emulsifies the oils present in the coffee.

The Coffee-Making Process

Drip coffee can be made in various ways, including with a drip-coffee machine or a manual dripper. This brewing method involves the slow flow of hot water through coffee grounds in a coffee filter. Since the filter holds back a good amount of the coffee oils and sediment, drip coffee is typically a clear beverage with a less intense flavor than espresso.

So, Why Is Espresso Stronger Than Coffee?

a cup of coffee with coffee beans on a wooden table
A shot of espresso requires a lot of grounds

Espresso is a stronger, more intense coffee brew than drip coffee because of the brewing method. To be more precise, espresso is stronger than coffee for three reasons:

1. Grounds-To-Water Ratio

First, a shot of espresso requires a lot of grounds that are extracted into a small amount of water. About six to eight grams of coffee grounds are used to brew a single shot of espresso, which means the water-to-coffee ratio for espresso is roughly 2:1. Pour-over coffee requires a water-to-coffee ratio of 16:1, which results in a much weaker coffee.

2. Espresso Uses a Fine Grind

Since one makes an espresso in roughly 25 to 30 seconds, the extraction period is super short. To ensure that proper extraction takes place and that you end up with a rich, flavorful espresso, a fine grind is used.

Water takes longer to run through a finely grinded coffee, which means that there is more time for the water to interact with the coffee and extract its oils and flavors.

3. The Pressure of the Water

The intense flavors and strength of espresso brews are also due to the pressure of the water with which they are made. To make espresso, hot water is pushed through the coffee bed at about 8 to 9 bars pressure. This pressure aids the extraction process since the water is better able to penetrate the coffee grounds.

4. No Filter

Since the espresso brewing method doesn’t work with a filter, many of the coffee oils land up in the coffee brew. Most of the flavors of coffee brews are the result of the oils present in the coffee beans.

This means that brewing methods that work sans filters produce stronger and more intensely flavored coffee brews. Drip coffee, on the other hand, is made with a filter, which holds back a lot of the coffee oils, resulting in a weaker cup of coffee.

The Last Word on Is Espresso Stronger Than Coffee

Whether you should opt for a shot of espresso or a cup of coffee the next time you visit a coffee shop depends on how you like your coffee. If you like a strong full-flavored coffee brew, opt for espresso. Those who like a brighter and lighter cup, however, should go with drip coffee.

FAQs on Is Espresso Stronger Than Coffee

Is There More Caffeine in Espresso Than Coffee?

Not only is espresso stronger in taste and flavor, but it also contains more caffeine than drip coffee. Although a standard 8-ounce cup of drip coffee contains more caffeine than a single shot of espresso, this is only due to the difference in size.

However, ounce for ounce, espresso provides more caffeine. Whereas drip coffee generally contains 12 to 26 mg of caffeine per ounce, 1 ounce of the espresso is packed with 63 mg of caffeine.

What Type of Grind Should You Use for Drip Coffee?

While espresso requires a fine grind, you should use a medium grind size for drip coffee. This is because the water drips slowly onto the grounds, providing it with more time to interact with the coffee. A too fine a grind will result in a bitter and over-extracted brew.


  • Niki B

    Born and bred in South Africa, Niki B now does her writing from the distant shores of South Korea. A self-proclaimed coffee addict by day, and a writer by night, she gladly shares her knowledge with fellow coffee lovers.