Is Espresso the Same Thing as Black Coffee?

is espresso black coffee

Coffee and espresso are often mentioned in the same breath but are they the same thing? Even though they both belong to the same family, coffee and espresso are more like distant relatives. A lot of people often ask me, “is espresso just black coffee?”

Espresso and black coffee are not the same things. Espresso is a potent shot of coffee whereas black coffee is your regular morning pick-me-up. Even though espresso has more caffeine per 1oz serving, a whole mug of black coffee has significantly more caffeine than a single shot of espresso.

By all accounts, espresso puts regular coffee to sleep every time. There’s a reason it’s so famous around the coffee community and continues to inspire different types of drinks and desserts. Espresso has been and always will be stronger than regular coffee but that’s not the only thing that makes them different.

Why Ask the Question?

Brewed coffee is what we are most familiar with, amongst all the coffee drinks. It’s your every morning or lunchtime drink, while espresso is a more concentrated dose of coffee flavor in a much smaller quaintly.

The ongoing conversation regarding which type of coffee is stronger has existed for as long as both drinks have. Some think that espresso comes in smaller cups because it’s so potent and full of caffeine.

People also say that drip coffee is stronger because it’s the morning drink that seems to get the whole world out of bed.

To know which one is stronger, or has more caffeine, one must consider several key factors.

Which Is Stronger?

The numbers say espresso is a more concentrated caffeinated drink, although drip coffee has more caffeine per serving. So, what does that mean?

An average cup of coffee can vary from 8 ounces to over 14 ounces. The average cup has approximately 80 to 120 mg of caffeine.

The average shot of espresso is two ounces in size. Each espresso has approximately 64 mg of caffeine in a serving.

By the numbers, it’s easy to see that espresso is stronger.

When compared per ounce instead of per serving, espresso has a significantly higher amount of caffeine in it.

Keep in mind, the type of equipment that makes your drip coffee will affect the amount of caffeine in your drink.

How Different Is Coffee from Espresso?

It usually takes less than 30 seconds to make a shot of espresso.

Regular coffee will always take longer to finish.

Espresso has more caffeine because the coffee beans are ground finer than ones used for regular drip coffee.

Did you know the temperature of the water used for extracting each type of brew is a factor in higher caffeine concentration? Hotter water will extract more caffeine from coffee grounds.

Espresso machines use super hot pressurized water and steam to pull a shot, and that hot water is what guarantees maximum flavor and caffeine extraction.

Drip Coffee machines don’t reach the temperatures espresso machines do. As you may have guessed, drip coffee won’t be as caffeinated.

Espresso is also much creamier on top than drip brew coffee. The burst of hot water used to extract the coffee’s oils, which leads to a richer flavor, coats the espresso with thick cream.

Different Coffee Bean Roast

Both espresso and traditional coffee can be made using any type of bean. All beans can be roasted to any level, light, medium, or dark. Classic espresso shots, those originating from Southern Italy, are traditionally pulled from dark roast coffee, while some people prefer to use a medium roast.

The coffee we buy from cafés or drive thoughts is an almost always medium roast. Although recently coffee chains started offering a dark roast option as well.

Lightly roasted coffee beans have more caffeine, darker roasts have less caffeine. The reason for the outcome is the process used to roast the beans.

Fair warning, lightly roasted coffee will be more acidic than medium or dark roast. Coffee becomes less caffeinated and less acidic as it’s roasted.


Saturation refers to the amount of water used to brew a cup of coffee or a shot of espresso.

It’s just a fancy way of saying, water-absorbing caffeine from the bean. The more water is used during this process the more caffeine can be extracted and the stronger your coffee will be.


Coffee and espresso, although always intertwined, are different in every way. They vary in preparation, taste, and caffeine levels. They have different aromas, require different brewing techniques, and are served in different sizes. It’s surprising they’re both made from the same beans.

A shot of espresso has more caffeine than the same volume of coffee. Although a full mug of your favorite java has more caffeine than a shot of espresso. So, technically, each has more caffeine than the other.

The real answer is that espresso is just a much more potent version of coffee. Obviously, if you had the same amount of espresso as you do regular coffee you’d be wired like never before. The concentrated dose of caffeine is truly an acquired taste.

Hopefully, you never have to ask if espresso is black coffee ever again. If you think there is anything I missed feel free to let me know or add it yourself in the comments.

Related Questions

Which Coffee Contains the Most Caffeine?

Per serving, espresso has more caffeine than any other coffee drink. Although, you consume much larger amounts of caffeine when you have a full mug of coffee. The strongest cup of coffee you can enjoy is Vietnamese coffee brewed from Robusta beans which can have up to 270mg of caffeine in an 8oz mug.

Does Espresso Wake You Up More than Coffee?

A normal cup of coffee will wake you up more than a shot of espresso. That’s expected because a full mug of coffee has more caffeine than a single shot of espresso. A cup of java is a classic morning pick me up while espresso is more of a café type of drink, better enjoyed with friends or as a dessert.

Are Two Shots of Espresso A Lot?

Not at all, in fact, two shots of espresso is a common order in coffee shops and cafés around the world. It has its own name, doppio. That’s not the only drink made from espresso that has its own name. Take a look at this article to learn more about different types of coffee.


Caffeine In Drinks – Espresso:

Caffeine In Instant Coffee – Espresso:

How Much Caffeine in a Cup of Coffee? A Detailed Guide:

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