Differences in Preparation
Once you have your roasted beans, the main difference between drip coffee and espresso lies in how you prepare them. From grind level to preparation, these two caffeinated beverages show little overlap apart from using hot water.
Grinding Espresso and Coffee Beans
It’s often recommended to grind the coffee beans just before brewing, whether that be with an automatic or manual grinder. By grinding just before brewing, the aromatic compounds will be preserved and experienced to their fullest. These aromatics are highly volatile and will escape fairly quickly, which may affect the taste of drip coffee or espresso from pre-ground beans.
Espresso requires a fine ground, somewhere between table salt and flour, whereas drip coffee doesn’t require such a powdery consistency. You can achieve medium or coarse grounds with manual grinders, but espresso will need an electric grinder to achieve that fineness.
Once we have the finely ground coffee beans, we arrive at the espresso maker. Espresso requires high pressure and speed to heat the water and pull the shot quickly. Because of this, you’ll need to prepare it with an espresso machine that achieves the 4 keys formula:
● Key 1: The ideal dose – This gives the espresso its rich and complex, full-bodied flavor.
● Key 2: The optimal pressure – The correct pressure of the machine evenly soaks and expands the coffee grounds.
● Key 3: The precise extraction temperature – A temperature-controlled machine will ensure a balanced, consistent flavor with every cup.
● Key 4: The powerful steam – For espresso-based drinks with milk, the perfect steam will give the milk a silky, velvety microfoam.
With the 4 keys formula, you’ll have a delightfully prepared espresso every morning.
Where the espresso machine uses pressure to push the water through the finely ground coffee beans, drip coffee utilizes Newton’s favorite force—gravity—and medium to coarse ground coffee beans. Drip coffee is brewed by pouring hot water over a filter filled with coffee grounds (hence why drip coffee is also coined “pour over” coffee). The result is a slow drip of delicious coffee through the filter into a mug or pot.
Another common form of coffee brewing is immersion brewing. This is the brewing process for French press coffee. Similar in flavor to drip coffee, the French press method submerges the coffee beans in the hot water for three to five minutes. The filter is then pressed down, pushing the coffee grounds to the bottom and allowing for a smooth, particle-free pour.
Some modern coffee makers have combined the grinding and brewing processes to save time in the mornings and ensure a consistent, flavorful cup to help jumpstart the day. With the grinder attached, you guarantee the aromatic compounds are captured for maximal richness.