What is the difference between Espresso and Filter coffee?

by Ghostbird Coffee on June 22, 2021

In today's write up we will try to explore and share what the main differences and similarities between the two preparation methods. 


The line between filter coffee and espresso can be a fuzzy one. What typically makes them different between espresso and filter coffee are preparation methods used.

How espresso is brewed?

In general espresso is prepared using coffee that has been grounded much finer than what would be used to prepare filter coffee as it usually uses coffee that is a bit more coarse, typically at a medium grind size as compared to the finer option. Another difference is that espresso requires an espresso machine  that comes at a higher cost of entry, espresso machines generally only supports the espresso preparation process. 

As the coffee is a lot finer, the coffee is tamped into a portafilter and after that nearly boiling water ( around 93 degrees celsius ) runs through the grinds for around 15 to 20 seconds, in order to pull an espresso shot. Typically within the industry you will come to learn that there are many ways to pull an espresso shot. Traditionally there is a ratio of 1:2, of which the amount of water or coffee extracted is double the amount of coffee grounds used at one time, other ratios include 1:1 or 1:1.5 and so on, this would generally vary from cafe to cafe. Espresso is also generally thicker than coffee brewed with other methods as espresso has a higher concentration of suspended and dissolved solids resulting in a crema on top of every well extracted espresso.

How filter coffee is brewed

Filter coffee on the other hand is a bit easier, cheaper and more common to understand. Brewing filtered coffee or pour over is a method which involves pouring water over roasted medium ground coffee beans through a filter, usually made from paper into a server. Filter coffees come in different forms and sizes such as a french press brewer, V60, Chemex, Kalita, Aeropress to name a few. Otherwise there are the electrical brewers too, such as the WIlfa Brew, Mochamaster, Marco SP9, Hario Samantha.


As filter coffee is brewed with many types of brewers in the market, the standard recipe and ratio for filter coffees is typically a 1:15 ratio. This would mean that the water used is 16 times the amount of coffee used. Isn't it amazing how much water can be used to make a delicious cup of coffee? The coffee is strong enough to be brewed with all that water. As filter coffees are typically served black, in exchange for the loss of the beautiful crema, the exchange is for a deliciously brewed coffee with great sweetness and balance.


How to drink?

When drinking coffee, one would typically assume that espresso based coffee has more caffeine than filter coffee however this is because, as the serving size of an espresso based coffee is typically at the size of 3 - 6 ounce ( 120 - 180ml ) the misconception is there but in fact, filter coffee has the most caffeine level as per each serving regardless of volume. So if you are looking to have a big caffeine kick in the morning, a filter coffee would be a great option!


As espresso based coffees can be transformed into the crowd favourites such as Flat Whites, Lattes and Cappuccino, to the Mocha, Iced Latte and Long Blacks / Americano’s and the various other espresso based beverages, the filter coffee counter parts however are only served in a limited format, either hot or cold and in black. As filter coffee is able to pick up on the subtle nuances of coffee, milk or any other milk alternatives are not served as it will mask the delicate flavours that have been brewed and extracted.


Final Thoughts

Drinking Filter or espresso coffee is a personal preference, As having an espresso bar set up may be a costlier hobby, filter coffee is a much simpler and more cost effective option for those who still wish to get their daily caffeine boost. Grinding coffee can be a challenging feat and perhaps a daunting one at best because one may or may not know which is the best option for them. With us we are able to assist you with the ability to grind per each order. As you have read through this blog, we would like to extend a RM5 voucher for each bag of filter coffee or blend purchased. Just key in the discount code “FilterVsEspresso” upon check out and voila!