Espresso Vs Black Coffee: What is the Difference?

Espresso and black coffee are two different coffee beverages with their characteristics and flavor profiles. Espresso is strong and full-bodied, while coffee could be considered strong, but it is also less intense and concentrated.

Espresso has crema froth on top, while black coffee is a fundamental and pure beverage. Espresso is prepared with a specific machine with high pressured water through a small basket, while black coffee does not require pressured water. Espresso is also thicker served in 2oz while black coffee is regularly served in 6-8oz.

process of making single espresso using espresso machine

There are different ways to make coffee, while you typically make espresso with an espresso machine. Read on and find out more about espresso compared to black coffee.


How Does Black Coffee Compare with Espresso?

Espresso and brewed coffees are different coffee forms and ways to make coffee. It comes down to how you make them and the grind of the bean. You make coffee with a medium to a coarse ground coffee bean. You make espresso with ground beans, but the grind is very fine.

The following explains how black coffee compares with espresso:

Black Coffee

Black coffee is coffee in its cleanest form. It is simply brewed and drank without adding cream, milk, or sugar. It takes a medium grind to make a batch of black coffee. When making black coffee,

There are several ways you can brew black coffee. They include the following methods:

  • Drip brewed coffee
  • French press
  • Percolator
  • Instant coffee
  • Aeropress
  • Pour-over coffee
The alternative black coffee brewing method uses a pour-over dripper and paper filter.

Black coffee has a slightly bitter taste without any cream or sugar, but it is still good. Nothing beats the flavor of freshly brewed coffee.

It is better to drink coffee black because if you add a lot of cream and sugar, a simple cup of coffee can have the same number of calories as a big slice of cake.

Black coffee remains in contact with the water longer than espresso. The proper brewing method for making black coffee will help it maintain its more subtle notes. Brewing black coffee involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds.

You can also add fresh coffee grounds into hot water. The hot water dissolves most of the coffee grounds. The grounds pass through a paper or metal filter and into a mug.


Espresso is a brewing style and a coffee beverage that pushes hot water under high pressure through a puck of finely ground and compacted coffee. The result is a highly intense shot of coffee with a sweet and decipherable crema froth on top.

Crema is usually dark mahogany in color. If there are light spots on the crema, it indicates that the pull brewed too long. The absence of crema signifies either a faulty shot or that the coffee beans lost their sugar and fat. Pulling an espresso shot takes practice to make it perfect.

Espresso is thicker than regular coffee. Espresso needs to be finely ground to be brewed correctly. This grind is because the coffee grounds are only briefly in contact with the water. As a general rule, the shorter the time brewing, the more finely ground the coffee.

Any type of coffee bean can be employed to make espresso. You will typically brew Espresso in an espresso machine. You can certainly purchase an espresso machine for home use, but it is expensive, and it is most often a job better left to the skilled barista at your favorite coffee shop.

What Are the Major Differences Between Black Coffee and Espresso?

Both espresso and black coffee possess intense flavors, but they are two different coffee beverages. The brewing method is distinct, and espresso has specific characteristics which separate it from plain black coffee. The following goes into further detail about the differences between the two:

Serving Size

Coffee cups generally range in size from eight ounces to twelve ounces. The typical serving size of the espresso is one ounce. Most espresso drinks consist of a double shot of espresso, which is two shots. Espresso is the base for many well-liked coffee beverages, including lattes and cappuccinos.

You can also drink espresso by itself if you are feeling adventurous. Espresso is known for packing a potent punch into a tiny size beverage.

Caffeine Content

On average, a cup of coffee has about eighty to one hundred and eighty-five milligrams of caffeine in eight ounces of coffee. A two-ounce serving of espresso has sixty to one hundred milligrams of caffeine.

Technically, espresso has more concentration of caffeine per ounce. However, drip coffee has more caffeine per serving.

With drip coffee, the amount of caffeine per serving can vary. It depends upon the particular machine used to make it. Espresso contains more caffeine because it is finely ground, and drip brew is medium ground.

Another aspect to consider is the temperature of the water used for extraction. The hotter the water, the more caffeine can be obtained from the coffee grounds. The hot water most dramatically affects the beverage’s flavor, strength, and caffeine content.


The filter used in drip coffee eliminates many flavor oils and creates a lighter texture, while espresso’s filter oils remain intact. Drip coffee does not have a wide array of flavors and oils present in the coffee beans. The paper filters will block out many of the flavor oils.

Espresso is typically a blend of various beans, making for a very acidic and well-balanced beverage. However, if you make espresso from beans that have been roasted for too long, it will likely make the espresso turn out to be very bitter.

Bitterness is more acceptable in espresso preparations. Coffee is the same way. If you use cheap beans, it will negatively affect the taste of the coffee. We have a complete article on bitterness on espresso here.

Espresso with crema

Health Benefits   

Both black coffee and espresso have magnesium, calcium, and potassium. One of the significant benefits of black coffee is that it boosts liver health. Studies have demonstrated that people who drink about four cups of black coffee every day have decreased incidence of any kind of liver disease.

Coffee has also been shown to improve cognitive function. It increases dopamine in the brain, which facilitates memory and focus. It keeps your nerves active and assists with overall brain function.  


When comparing black coffee and espresso, comparing things like flavor and caffeine content is essential. If you are a true blue java lover, you will appreciate black coffee and espresso for their differences and similarities.

Charlie McFarlane

Specialty Coffee Enthusiast. Hungry for knowledge in the art and science behind specialty coffee and decided to document my journey, while sharing it with the public. More than 10 baristas were interviewed; over 21 farms were visited across 5 countries. Almost 100 Coffee Shops. Bean of choice: Pacamara. Preferred coffee country: Panama. Preferred Brewing Method: Aeropress. Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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