There are any number of beverages that can be made from the aromatic, caffeinated, coffee bean, but some wonder what the difference between coffee and espresso is. Many believe that the difference is in the variety of the bean or the method of roasting; however all of the various beans and roasting methods that are suitable for a good cup of coffee are also perfectly fine for a wonderful shot of espresso. The only real difference between coffee and espresso bean preparation is in the grind. While a course or medium grind is used for brewed coffee, espresso requires that you grind your coffee beans more finely.
Beyond the way you grind the beans for espresso you will find how you actually “brew” regular coffee and espresso is very different. For regular coffee you can use any number of methods, French press, drip brewing, percolation, or even simply putting your coffee in a filter and slowly pouring hot water over the grinds. Espresso uses a very specific process which forces water through tamped down grounds under pressure. The coffee infused water drips into a shot glass where it is ready for you to drink.
Unlike regular coffee, which creates a homogenous large cup of brew, espresso has three separate layers. The bottom layer is called the Heart, which is very dark and rich. The Body of the espresso shot is in the center and is lighter both in color and flavor than the heart. The body is really a mixture of the top and bottom layers, but with the way espresso settles into the shot it has its own distinct flavor. The top layer is called the Crème and it has a creamy smooth texture that is light in taste. With a regular cup of coffee you can enjoy it at your leisure sipping on your favorite cup of brew. With an espresso shot you will want to drink it down quickly, within ten seconds after the shot is brewed for the best flavor. You can certainly take longer, but the three layers will start to blend and you will not get to experience the different layers.
Ounce for ounce your espresso shot has more caffeine, but a full cup of coffee has more caffeine than a single shot. If you are looking for a quick buzz or pick me up, a double shot of espresso can quickly give you more caffeine than a cup of Joe. The difference between coffee and espresso is all about preparation, but there is one more difference that should be noted, the various drinks you can use espresso in. Usually coffee is served hot or cold, perhaps with cream and or sugar, but that is the extent to the variety of ways you might serve regular coffee. Espresso can be consumed on its own, but is often used in other coffee drinks.
Adding steamed milk to an espresso shot makes a latte, add chocolate to that and you have a mocha latte. From there the possibilities are endless. Flavored syrups like Caramel, Vanilla, and Hazelnut used alone or in combination makes the variety of drinks just about endless. These various espresso infused beverages can be served over ice for a cold version. If you truly must have the best of both worlds of coffee and espresso, you can always add a shot of espresso to your coffee and have it all.
If you're looking to be able to make espresso from the comfort of your own home, consider some of these quality espresso machines that will certainly give you a solid bang for your coffee buck.