Drip coffee and espresso are two distinct brewing methods that produce vastly different flavor profiles. Drip coffee is made by pouring hot water over ground coffee beans, which then slowly drips through a filter. This process produces a milder, less concentrated coffee with a smoother taste.
On the other hand, espresso is made by forcing pressurized hot water through finely-ground coffee beans, resulting in a strong, concentrated shot of coffee. As stated by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) the definition of espresso is as follows; Espresso is a 25–35ml (.85–1.2 ounce [×2 for double]) beverage prepared from 7–9 grams (14–18 grams for a double) of coffee through which clean water of 195°–205°F (90.5°–96.1°C) has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds. While brewing, the flow of espresso will appear to have the viscosity of warm honey and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick, dark golden crema. Espresso should be prepared specifically for and immediately served to its intended consumer.
The difference in brewing methods contributes to the differences in taste between drip coffee and espresso. Drip coffee is known for having a more nuanced flavor profile, with notes of fruit, nuts, and chocolate. In contrast, espresso has a stronger, bold flavor with a hint of bitterness.
Consumers may choose one brewing method over the other based on personal preference and not so surprisingly, the occasion. For example, drip coffee is often chosen for its ease and convenience, as it can be brewed in larger quantities and kept warm for longer periods. This makes it a popular choice for offices, breakfasts, and brunches. On the other hand, espresso is often favored for its bold flavor and concentrated caffeine content, making it a popular choice for a quick morning pick-me-up or a post-meal drink. Espresso is often the go-to base for specialty coffee drinks from flavored lattes to iced espressos and so many more innovative drinks that continue to develop every day.
Certain demographics may also choose one brewing method over the other based on cultural preferences. For example, in Italy, espresso is a staple drink and is often consumed throughout the day. In the United States, drip coffee is by far the most popular way to brew coffee, with over 75% of Americans drinking it regularly.
According to the most recent release of the National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) report by the National Coffee Association (NCA), coffee remains the most beloved beverage in America. Furthermore, the report highlights that the consumption of coffee outside of homes in America is steadily recovering from the dip caused by the pandemic.