Is Espresso Filtered?

Espresso and Filtered Coffee are not to be compared, starting from the brewing method having an impact on taste and aroma of the resulting liquid. Not all coffees are created equal.

Filtered coffee, it is not espresso, despite going through a pressurized filtration process. The term “filtered coffee” is reserved, especially for coffee that undergoes percolation using a filter paper or cloth. An espresso, on the other hand, is for coffee that you percolate under pressure.

Coffee is a unique strong-flavoured drink from coffee beans that people can serve in multiple tasty variants. We can group brewing methods in four main types based on how water gets into the coffee, and each technique has its nuances. The four grouped categories of brewing methods are decoction—boiling the coffee grounds, infusion—extraction process similar to making tea from tea bags, gravitational feed (filtered coffee), and pressurized percolation (espresso). The different tasks during brewing will impact the flavour and complexity of the resulting liquid. Let’s focus on the last two brewing methods that require percolation—filtered coffee and espresso. While both ways require some sort of filtering, filtered coffee needs a paper filter, and espresso involves pressure.

In this article, we will talk about the art behind an espresso cup and why the barista takes what feels like an eternity to bring your fresh cup of filtered coffee. I urge my fellow coffee lovers to continue reading to appreciate that cup of caffeine goodness some more. Get ready to understand the exact difference between the top two brews—filter and espresso. 

Is an Espresso Filtered Coffee?

Theoretically, filter and espresso have the same concept of being percolated; they both require pouring hot water passing through coffee grounds to a collecting vessel. The difference is that the classic filtered coffee employs gravity to push the water down, and espresso uses pressure.

A significant defining factor of the espresso is that you prepare it with almost boiling, high-temperature water that runs through finely-ground coffee beans. Compared to “filtered coffee,” espresso has a denser consistency, and it is more concentrated.

How Long Does It Take to Prepare Each?

With a filtered coffee, the entire process is approximately 2-3 from the blooming to the post-bloom phase.  With an espresso, total brewing and preparation time is about 85-90 seconds for a black shot. If you want milk-based coffee, it may take more time, except you are comfortable multitasking.

Health Benefits 

Researchers have carried out countless studies on the health benefits of coffee that lead to its removal from the WHOs list of possible carcinogens. The most common reason for coffee being beneficial is its antioxidative properties that reduce the effects of free-radicals that cause us to age. It is no surprise that some coffee beans variants and brewing methods will show more benefits over the other.

Espresso has a large number of solids suspended in it and has a better concentration of essential nutrients. Some of these components are magnesium, riboflavin, and vitamin B. These vitamins aid cell processes to improve life quality.

In comparison to unfiltered coffee, filtered coffee showed a 4-9% increase in the life span of test subjects based on research. Additionally, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The benefit to cardiovascular health has an association with the reduced diterpene content by filtering. Diterpene is a cholesterol-raising component of coffee.

Preparation Equipment 

An espresso machine is much more expensive than a primary filtered coffee tool. If you are a beginner or are not committed to the art of coffee making, filtered coffee is the more cost-efficient option.

To make a filtered coffee, the things you need are:

  1. A dripper
  2. A cup
  3. Filter paper
  4. A scale for better accuracy
  5. A thermometer would also help with accuracy in temperature. 

With espresso, you can spend anything between a couple of hundreds and thousands of dollars. A home-use espresso machine is less costly, but it doesn’t have a commercial machine’s high-pressure capacity.

Additionally, you have to consider space and electricity with an espresso machine since it needs both in considerable amounts. Also, there are other variables and tools to include with an espresso that end up costing a lot.

Espresso and Filtered Coffee: Which is the Best?

The answer to the question of which is better between an espresso cup and a filter cup of coffee is, in many ways, indirect. Everyone’s taste buds have different preferences, making it hard to judge the best from my taste buds alone.

That stated, I would explain some of the best parts of each type so that you can choose for yourself. 


When taking the taste of a coffee’s flavour into account, filtered coffee is the winner, since it lets you taste the delicate flavours of your coffee. Some of these unique flavours may not be easy to taste through an espresso cup. 


While filtered coffee has a calming and peaceful process, an espresso gives you your caffeine boost in minimal time.

How You Enjoy Your Coffee

The consistency of espresso lets you add steamed milk in a way that complements its flavour. So, you can enjoy your espresso as latte, cappuccino, or flat white. Filtered coffee is commonly taken black because of its smoother, less acidic taste.

What is Filtered Coffee?

filtered coffee or “pour-over and drip” is one that depends on a filter paper and gravity to draw out less acidity than an espresso. It also offers complex flavours of coffee and allows drinkers to appreciate the scent and flavours of coffee.

Because the process lets water absorb the flavour and oils of the coffee beans in its own time, filtered coffee has a milder feel in addition to its lower acidity. It also requires more coffee grounds and water.

What is An Espresso?

The nice espresso shot we enjoy is of Italian origin and gets its name from the rapid brewing process. Technically, its production involves forcing boiling water under pressure (express) through ground coffee beans. An original espresso is a shot mug that you drink quickly and be alert in no time.

Method of Brewing Espressos

The brewing process involves forcing boiling water through finely-ground coffee under high-pressure. A barista makes an espresso by using an espresso machine. The technical requirements that the Italian Espresso National Institute set for make certified Italian espresso include the following:

The portion of ground coffee necessary7g ± 0.5
Water exit temperature 88°C ± 2°C
Drink temperature in the cup67°C ± 3°C
Water entry pressure9 bar ± 1
Percolation time25 seconds ± 5 seconds
Viscosity at 45°C> 1.5mPa S
Total fat> 2mg/ml
Caffeine < 100mg/cup
Milliliters in the cup plus froth25ml ± 2.5ml

Layers of the Espresso

Apart from coming out thicker and more concentrated than filtered coffee, an espresso also has two layers to it.

Crema Layer

This layer is the top portion of your shot that appears golden-brown. Its major components are proteins, melanoidins—a combination of amino acids and sugar, and oils. Not every coffee beans or espresso process can produce crema. Some people think of this layer as one that makes a good shot, while others deem it too bitter to enjoy.

Liquid Layer

Some barristers consider the liquid layer in two parts the body and the heart.

  1. The body represents the normally caramel-brown mid-portion of an espresso shot
  2. The heart is the richer, darker brown, the base of the espresso shot.

The liquid part is the espressos central portion, and it comes with sweetness and acidity.

Variations of an Espresso

By altering the steamed milk, wet foam, dry foam, or hot water concentration, or blending the espresso with other components, you can get a variety of coffee drinks from an espresso.

When you add more water, two of the famous derivatives are an americano and a long black. With more milk, you can get a macchiato, a flat white, a latte, and a cappuccino. These drinks can also come with different flavours like chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and more for a unique taste. 

While you can get the drinks listed above from an espresso, they serve you a cold espresso variant in some countries. The most common variations are called caffé Freddo and Freddo espresso.

Caffé Freddo

A caffé Freddo is a cold espresso typical in southern Europe and is also called an Espresso Freddo. In Rome, the cafes prepare it and keep it chilled in advance.

Freddo Espresso

In Cyprus, Greece, and their neighbouring countries, they name their variant of cold espresso Freddo espresso. They are famous in the summer months, and the method of preparation is slightly different from the Italian version.


Espresso is healthy since it goes through a level of filtering. Ultimately, the choice to enjoy any type of coffee is entirely up to the consumer. The kind of coffee beans you use can change the result of each brewing method.

But, I am sure that apart from caffeine, its versatility is what makes it the most consumed drink in the world after tea and water. This quality makes one drink pleasant to numerous people with different tastes and preferences all around the globe.


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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