It’s bitter, it’s loaded with caffeine, it’s a type of coffee bean. These are all pretty common misconceptions we encounter when people talk to us about espresso. While drip coffee is pretty much universally understood by Americans (it's coffee!), espresso still remains somewhat shrouded in mystery. Today we’ll set the record straight on three common espresso misconceptions.
Separating Myth From Fact
- Espresso is not a type of coffee bean. Espresso is a brewing process in which water is forced through finely ground coffee under pressure. The truth is espresso can be made from any type of coffee. Some beans make a much tastier espresso, but it’s a brewing process and not a type of bean.
- Espresso is bitter. Well if you’ve had a poorly made over extracted espresso or one made from very dark over roasted beans it may have been. But well made espresso should not be bitter. Done right, espresso is more like a fine wine with a complex range of flavors ranging from chocolaty to sweet, fruity, nutty, earthy, salty and more.
- Espresso is loaded with caffeine. Well when compared ounce to ounce, espresso does have more caffeine than drip coffee. It’s rather hard to standardize, but according to coffeechemistry.com espresso has between 30 and 50 milligrams per ounce while drip coffee has 8 to 15 milligrams per ounce.
The big difference is serving size. In the United States, a typical drip coffee serving is 8 ounces resulting in 64 to 120 milligrams of caffeine. A typical double shot of espresso is 2 ounces resulting in 60 to 100 milligrams of caffeine. So by average serving size, the amount of caffeine is about the same for espresso and drip coffee.
And that's why Italians can down 10 single shots of espresso a day while 10 cups of drip coffee would turn most people into a jittery mess.