Filter coffee or espresso coffee — what’s the real difference here? Is there even a difference at all? From taste to preparation and chemistry, get ready to find out.
Over the course of the last few years, pour-over coffee has become “the cool way to drink coffee” in the speciality world, making filter coffee cool again.
Espresso has often been deemed by many as the “best” way to drink coffee. People are waking up to the different ways of drinking coffee these days.
But what really is the difference between the two coffee giants of espresso and filter?
Filter Coffee or Espresso Coffee? What’s the Difference?
Grind and Brewing
The most obvious differences between filter coffee and espresso are in the fineness of their grinds and in their brewing times.
Espresso is a short, sharp shot of coffee that is made when water at pressure is used to brew coffee beans. The coffee is ground much more finely for espresso than for filter coffee. The size of the grind is crucial with espresso.
If you just get it slightly too coarse the water passes through too quickly and it creates a weaker espresso, but if you grind too fine the water won’t pass quickly enough and it will over extract, making for an extremely strong coffee.
Besides its small size and concentrated flavour, one of the main indicators of an espresso is the crema, or the layer of foam on top of the espresso shot, similar to what you might get in a pint of beer.
There are a few different versions of stovetops as you can see in this article on how to make espresso at home.
Now that we have discussed espresso, let’s talk about filter coffee.
The key difference between filter and espresso is that, like espresso which is pushed through under pressure, the filter coffee water runs through the coffee grounds simply because of gravity.
It takes longer to brew coffee this way, but the result is still the same. You will use more coffee and more water this way, but you still get a delicious cup of java.
Filter coffees create a delicate brew, with a sweet almost clean taste. The acid level is softer making it complex but easy to drink.
In contrast, espresso coffee tends to have an exaggerated acidity. The flavours of the coffee bean are brought out in a more subtle way making it bolder in flavour.
It has been said that if you compare the two, filter coffee tastes like wine while espresso coffee tastes like whiskey or hard liquor.
Different Equipment Needed
When brewing filter coffee, the best way to go is manual. It allows you to control the brewing process and get the most flavour out of your beans. Most filter coffee is done through an automatic drip, which will still give you great filter coffee.
However, you have less control over the flavours and aromas of your brew. Try different brewing methods (which can be found in this post here). Our favourite filter is the V60 or the Chemex is also very popular.
When talking about espresso coffee, the only way to get “true” espresso is to use an espresso machine which can create the desired pressure.
You can make espresso style coffee such as stove top, French Press, or the Aeropress. These are lower cost options which give you the same great taste at a fraction of the cost.
The most common misconception about espresso is that it contains the most caffeine, but, surprising to most is that drip, filter or pour over coffee tends to contain much more caffeine than espresso.
Why? It’s simple. Drip or filter coffee extracts the naturals oils, sugars and therefore caffeine much more slowly, meaning you get a more nuanced cup but one that contains a slightly higher amount of caffeine.
|80-185 mg per 250ml cup
|40-75 mg per 30ml serving
|Types of Drink
|Drip, filter, cold brew, Nitro Brew, Freeze dried, Aeropress
|Latte, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Americano, Piccolo, Cortado, Flat White, Mochaccino.
At the end of the day, the best choice boils down to your lifestyle and taste preferences. There really isn’t a wrong answer here. At the end of the day, espresso is coffee — and we all love coffee, right?
Remember, each method could produce completely different results with different beans, depending on their origin, roast, and more.
That’s the fabulous thing about coffee, isn’t it? It always has so much to offer.
So… what’s your favourite method?