What’s The Difference Between Espresso And Filter Coffee?

What’s The Difference Between Espresso And Filter Coffee?

Coffee’s not just coffee any more. Specialty shops have completely changed the way we view and taste our cup of Joe. We’ve discovered a myriad of methods for preparing it, and people are waking up to the tiny intricacies that affect the overall flavour of our drink. But what really is the difference between espresso and filter coffee?


Espresso is the Italian answer to your immediate caffeine needs. The word conveys one of the most important things you need to know about this drink – it’s express. That’s right, it’s quick to make and quick to consume, just like the caffeine buzz it gives you. 

So what else sets it apart? Well, brewed with high-temperature (almost boiling!), pressurized water running through finely ground coffee beans, it’s denser and more concentrated than filter coffee.


Does this sound too intense? Fret not, an espresso isn’t just meant to be consumed from a little demitasse cup. It’s also your base for all those different drinks like Americanos, cappuccinos, flat whites, lattes…

And if you’re asking what the difference is between all these, it’s simply the amount of steamed milk or hot water you want for your perfectly balanced cuppa.


The espresso not only comes out thicker and more concentrated than filter. It also has layers:

This is the golden-brown top layer of a shot, made up of proteins, oils, and melanoidins (which is created by the combination of sugar and amino acids). Not all coffee can produce crema, and it’s also a divisive topic: some people find it too bitter, while others consider it the sign of a good shot.


This is the main portion of the espresso shot, and brings acidity and sweetness. It can be also be considered as two different parts: the body and the heart. The body is the middle portion of the espresso, and is normally caramel-brown in color. As for the heart, the base of the espresso, it’s typically a richer, darker shade of brown.


Espresso and filter are, in theory, the same concept. The basics are the same: pour hot water over coffee grounds, the water passes through the grounds and a filter of some form, and falls into a vessel.

But the key difference between filter and espresso is that, instead of being pushed through with pressure, the water runs through the coffee grounds solely because of gravity. For this reason, the brewing process takes slightly longer for a different, but still heavenly, result.

Oh, and because of all this, it also need more coffee grounds and more water. There are no 30 ml filter coffees – or at least, not ones you’d enjoy drinking.

Filter coffee – which you’ll also hear called pour over and drip – tends to draw less acidity, and accentuates more intricate flavors of the coffee. This makes it a popular brewing choice for single origin coffees, since it allows the drinker to appreciate all the flavors and aromas.

And unlike espresso, with its density and layers, good filter coffee is clean, clear, and consistent. This is because more water is allowed to absorb coffee oils and fragrances in its own consistent time and pressure, instead of by force. In addition to lower acidity, this also gives it a milder mouthfeel, at least when compared to espresso.



There’s no simple answer to this question.

Filter coffee is a more precise way to taste the different nuances of a coffee, especially ones that may not shine through as well in an espresso. The process itself is also peaceful and calming.

However, it definitely isn’t comparable to espresso when placed in the hands of time. An espresso is crafted differently, through a completely different method, and a wonderfully quick way to score your necessary caffeine intake.

Another consideration is how you typically like to take your coffee. Due to the thick, syrupy nature of an espresso, it tends to swirl into milk in a smooth, consistent manner. The creaminess of the steamed milk usually brings out more of the sweetness of espresso, and this can be enjoyed in the form of cappuccinos, flat whites, and lattes.

Filter coffee, by comparison, has a cleaner, smoother, and less acidic taste – meaning it’s commonly drunk black. This allows you to appreciate its subtleties and clarity.

At the end of the day, the best choice boils down to your lifestyle and taste preferences. Remember, though, that each method could produce completely different results with different beans, depending on their origin, roast, and more.

That’s the fabulous thing about coffee, isn’t it? It always has so much to offer.

So… what’s your favorite method?