Espresso! We still remember the first time we tried it – we were kids and our parents ordered espresso over ice cream at a restaurant. Ever since then we’ve extra intrigued by the intense and magical brown liquid. But should you be drinking espresso over coffee, or at all? What are the pros and cons of espresso?
We’re glad you asked! In this article, we will be going over the pros and cons of espresso, as well as why we think you should be drinking it. Compared to normal drip coffee, espresso is a very different beast. It gives you the same caffeine kick as a large cup of coffee, except it fits in a shot glass! Sound exciting? Don’t get too excited though, it does come with its drawbacks.
If you’re like us, you want to be able to compare these drawbacks against espressos benefits before you make a decision. That’s why we’ve put together this robust list of the pros and cons of espresso. Ready to decide if you should be drinking espresso? Let’s dive in.
The Pros of Espresso
Let’s start with all of the reasons why you should be drinking espresso! Some of these reasons are why you should be drinking it at all, as well as why you should be drinking it over other forms of coffee. Here we go!
The first and biggest one for us is that we think espresso is delicious! It’s really the most distilled form of coffee flavor; if you want to know what a particular coffee bean or roast tastes like, pull it into a shot of espresso.
Author Note: Since espresso concentrates the flavors into a very small amount of water, it will allow you to taste the coffee the easiest. While certain beans and roasts are meant for espresso, we’ve found that almost all beans and roast will taste good if pulled into a shot.
Espresso Requires Fewer Beans
This one might be controversial depending on how you make your drip coffee. When we compare how many beans we use while drinking drip vs. espresso, we always use fewer for espresso. Why? When making drip coffee you tend to fill up an entire filter and make a large pot of coffee. There’s almost always some leftover in the pot that you throw away later.
With espresso, you only need to fill up the smaller filter. You also end up drinking the entire shot and not wasting coffee beans. If you’re making a coffee drink with multiple shots of espresso, this is when it can get controversial. If you’re making a triple shot latte, you might end up using just as many coffee beans. But for most users, you’ll use fewer beans when making espresso.
It’s More Travel Friendly
What do we mean by travel friendly? Well if you’re drinking espresso shots straight, you might not even take them travling with you at all! It depends on if you sip them or take them like a shot. If you take your espresso shot all at once, then you don’t need to bring anything with you!
If you plan on sipping on your espresso shot, then you can use a much smaller travel cup then you would for normal coffee. So it’s also easier to take with you. The worst case is that you make a latte or cappuccino that you then take in the same size container as normal coffee. So it can only be more travel friendly.
Espresso Caffienates You Faster
Looking for a quick hit of caffeine? Then you should go with espresso over normal coffee. Since espresso is more concentrated than normal coffee, you end up getting caffeine into your system at a quicker rate.
This is because you’ll end up drinking the same amount of caffeine you would get in a normal cup of coffee in a much smaller volume. Your system will digest the espresso faster and you’ll feel the effects of the caffeine quicker. It’s also a great way to augment fasting, as caffeine is a natural appetite inhibitor.
Espresso is More Versatile
What do we mean by more versatile? You can drink espresso with many different things, and pretty much at every meal if you want to! Some countries like Spain and Italy almost always drink espresso with their meals.
You can also add espresso to many different types of dishes. There are many different dessert dishes that go great with espresso poured over them – like ice cream, coffee cake, and tiramisu. Wondering what the best kind of espresso is for tiramisu? Check out our article to learn about our favorites! There are also uses for the used coffee grounds, such as rubs for steaks and roasts. It’s truly the most versatile coffee drink.
You Can Add it To Your Coffee
This one might also be controversial, but you can easily add espresso to you rother coffee drinks if you want an extra caffeine hit. Adding espresso to normal coffee also increases the intensity of the flavor, which some people really like.
Top Tip: With normal coffee, you can’t do this. You can only try and brew it stronger or use a lighter roast that has more caffeine in it. Keep reading for several tips on how to brew your coffee stronger!
The Cons of Espresso
Now that we’ve covered the pros in our pros and cons of espresso, let’s go over the cons. As with anything, there are some drawbacks to drinking espresso over normal drip coffee. Let’s get started.
It Takes More Time to Make
This is probably the biggest con for us – espresso takes longer to make. Unless you own an industrial espresso machine, you’ll need to let your machine warm-up, get the boiler to the right temperature, grind your beans, tamp down the grounds, then pull a shot of espresso. If you like making your espresso in a pan or Moka pot, this also takes more time.
Most drip coffee machines will make you a whole pot of coffee in about the same amount of time it takes to make one shot of espresso. There are cases where this isn’t true, however. Some expensive espresso machines have timers that will allow you to set them to make you a shot before you wake up in the morning. These machines are quite expensive, however, and you can buy a coffee machine that has the same features for much less.
Espresso Machines are More Expensive
Most coffee makers only cost $30 to $60. Espresso machines, however, start at over $100 and go into the $1,000s. This makes them way more expensive than coffee machines. Why is this? Espresso machines have much more advanced technology than drip coffee makers. They need to be able to heat and pressurize water at a much higher level than drip coffee makers do.
Some espresso machines are also built to draw multiple shots at a time or come with a grinder built into them. Some espresso machines are also quite large, especially if they are designed for multiple baristas to pull shots from them. All of these extra features mean they are almost always more expensive than normal drip coffee machines.
You Need a Special Grinder
It’s not completely necessary to use a burr grinder when making espresso, but you should. What’s a burr grinder? A burr grinder uses burrs to grind up your coffee beans. This allows them to grind the beans into a much finer powder, which is better for espresso. The finer powder allows the espresso machine to pull more flavor and caffeine out of the bean in the one-shot of hot water.
You can use normal bladed grinders or buy pre-gound coffee, but it won’t pack as much of a flavor punch as the finer ground coffee. Pro tip: we actually recommend using a burr grinder for both espresso and drip coffee. The finer ground coffee works great for drip coffee too! You’ll get more bang for your buck.
Espresso is More Difficult to Make
Author Note: The instructions on using a normal drip coffee maker are usually very straightforward. Firing up an espresso machine is almost always not. Depending on how advanced your espresso machine is, you’ll need to follow the instructions or have an expert teach you.
There are many nuisances to properly operating an espresso machine. You need to make sure you grind the right amount of beans for the filter, heat the water up to the right temperature, ensure the water tank has enough water, the list goes on and on. You can make espresso in a pan, but it’s usually not as good.
Drip coffee machines are super simple: fill them up with water and coffee grinds, and press on. That’s it!
Espresso is Harder to Sip On
If you like prolonging your coffee experience (like we do), you’ll often find it’s hard to do with a shot of espresso. If you like drinking on coffee while you work (we are right now while writing this article) you want it to last a long time. The volume of liquid is so small that you’ll end up drinking all of it very quickly. It also gets cold faster, and cold espresso is not good.
To combat this you can make other coffee drinks that require espresso, like lattes and cappuccinos. These drinks, however, take much longer to make, which can also be a con for espresso.
The Flavor Isn’t for Everyone
While we think the flavor of espresso is delightful, some people think it is too strong. Espresso can be especially bitter depending on the type of bean and level of roasting you use. For first-time coffee drinkers, it can be a lot. Some people consider espresso an acquired taste that takes warming up to.
If you’re looking to get into drinking espresso more, we recommend starting with milk-based espresso drinks. Lattes, cappuccinos, cortados, these drinks all involve adding steamed or chilled milk to espresso. The milk softens the flavor and makes them much more palatable for new drinkers. It’s how we got started drinking espresso!
There you have it! Those are the most important pros and cons of espresso that we know of. We hope that after reading this article we’ve helped you gain some clarity on if espresso is the coffee drink for you. For the record, we love espresso and think it is a great choice for drinking coffee.
But we also love drip coffee, so we might be a bit biased. If you have other pros and cons of espresso you would like to share with us, please leave a comment below. Good luck with the espresso-making and drinking!
Stay caffeinated friends!