• 1.304.422.3131
  • 320 Market St., Parkersburg, WV

Espresso vs Coffee — What’s the Difference?

by Karlie Lockhart, Barista

To some, the word “espresso” is scary, giving the impression of intense caffeination. When the lover of “the average cup of joe” hears the word espresso, they may think of someone holding a small cup and saucer that clank against each other due to the drinker shaking from “the buzz.” Espresso aficionados, on the other hand, may turn their nose up at the idea of a cup of drip coffee. They wouldn’t dare subject themselves to something so simple and mainstream.

Coffee vs Espresso

Espresso or coffee – do you have a preference? Is there a difference? You may be surprised to learn that drip coffee and espresso are very similar. The secret? They are simply both coffee. Both drip coffee and espresso are made using coffee beans grown on the same coffee plant. What’s even more surprising is that espresso and drip coffee may even be made from the same bag of coffee beans from a certain roaster. What makes them different then?

The key difference is a process called extraction. Extraction refers to the act of pulling desirable compounds such as caffeine, acids, lipids, sugars, and carbohydrates from the ground beans using water. Variables such as water temperature, water pressure, grind size, and brew time can all affect the result of the extraction. These variables also noticeably affect the taste of the extracted coffee.

Espresso, for example, is finely ground, tightly packed, and brewed using hot, pressurized water in a small amount of time. When the pressurized water hits these grounds, the fine and tightly packed coffee makes it harder for the water to quickly and freely flow through, resulting in a smaller and more concentrated amount of coffee. You’ll notice a rich, creamy, and sometimes heavy “mouthfeel” when drinking espresso. A well-extracted shot of espresso will also have a more pronounced flavor profile.

Drip coffee, however, is a coarser grind, placed loosely in a filter, and brewed using hot, free-flowing water over a longer period of time. No matter which brew method you choose (pour over, French press, automatic drip coffee maker), you will always yield a full cup of coffee rather than just an ounce or two. This cup will feel lighter on the tongue and have a less pronounced flavor profile.

There are further varying factors that can affect your morning jolt. The amount of coffee grounds vs. the amount of water used can result in either a too weak or too strong cup. Incorrect water temperature can result in a cup that is under-extracted, being less flavorful and having less body. And believe it or not, the freshness of your coffee beans makes a difference! If you have beans that are used long after their roasting date, you will have a less defined flavor profile than if you used beans that were roasted within the past month.

The scientific variables that distinguish coffee and espresso are surprising! If this is new information to you, you may feel that there is a world of difference between the two. But for a coffee lover like myself, the similarities by far outshine any differences!


Check In

Nights of Stay
Adult Occupancy
Optional Preferences