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Everything you need to know about Espresso


What does espresso taste like?

Espresso is actually a form of coffee, it is just made differently. When you make a coffee, you will put it through a slow dripping process.

Espresso on the other hand, is made by pushing hot water through a fine coffee ground at great pressure through an espresso machine. We will elaborate on these differences a little further down in this article.

Where taste is concerned, there is a small difference between regular coffee and espresso. Espresso tends to have a more rounded and intense flavor compared to the more mellow taste of coffee.

Getting Your Espresso Taste Just Right

We have mentioned many things that could have an influence on your espresso taste. From the choice of beans and their caffeine content to the temperature and grinding process, they are all things that can be used to really change the taste of your coffee or espresso.

Once you become familiar with all the elements involved in the brewing process, you will find it much easier to customize the taste to your own preferences. While espresso does have a distinct taste to start, it is really possible to alter small things and customize your espresso.

In addition to changing brewing time, grind, and temperature, there is another thing you can do to alter the taste of your coffee and espresso. Basically, you can add another ingredient to the mix; this could be a hint of cinnamon, some honey, or anything else you like.

Espresso machine buying guides

What Is The Difference Between Espresso And Coffee?

Now that we have discussed the different taste of espresso and coffee, let’s take a look at some of the other differences and the similarities between these drinks. It could prove useful the next time you make a cup of coffee.

Coffee beans

Some manufacturers would have you believe that you need very specific espresso coffee beans to make genuine espresso. Some coffee shops will even sell beans advertised as espresso, but there is no such thing. So, if you have seen coffee shops with this kind of bean, you may want to go somewhere else.


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In other words, you can make espresso with anything from Arabica beans to Robusta beans. Whether you need to make an espresso shot or a good tasting espresso in general, your focus should lie on the way you make it.

Brewing method

The brewing process for a cup of espresso is a little different from standard coffee. If you don’t really want to mess around with manual presses, you can simply purchase a good espresso maker for your cup or espresso shot.

If you are looking to make a good espresso by using a manual press, always make sure that you get an even and fine grind. The grind should also be distributed evenly in the portafilter to ensure the best result.

How much caffeine in a shot of espresso?

While most people believe that a good espresso will have more caffeine than coffee, this is not the case. In fact, regular drip coffee has more caffeine than a shot of espresso.

According to Caffeine Informer, one shot of espresso has around 77 mg of caffeine. On the other hand, one cup of drip coffee has closer to 150 mg of caffeine.

However, espresso has more caffeine per ounce than coffee. In espresso, you get 77 mg of caffeine from 1.5 ounces. In drip coffee, you get 150 mg in 8 ounces.

So if you drank 8 ounces of espresso, you’d be getting a lot more caffeine!

What is espresso flavor?

An espresso has a slightly bitter and sweet flavor with rich overtones. You can get various gradations of bitterness, sweetness and richness, depending on the size of the shot used in the drink. However, no espresso drink should be sour, and this is the most important thing to remember.

How many ounces in a shot of espresso?

A shot of espresso is typically 1.5 to 2 ounces. Double shots are 4 ounces. In metric measurements, a single shot is 60 ml, and a double shot is 120 ml.

What does Starbucks espresso taste like?

Starbucks has a variety of espresso drinks, so their espresso tastes can be variable. Let us take a look at the two most common espressos from Starbucks and their respective taste.

Starbucks Espresso Roast

The Starbucks Espresso Roast is quite different from your regular cup of espresso. It has a rich and caramel-like taste, provided by dark roasted beans. It has been the signature espresso taste for the brand since 1975. If you like a cup of coffee that is quite rich and a little sweet, then this will be the cup of espresso for you.

Starbucks Blonde Espresso Roast

The blonde espresso roast is a really interesting coffee from Starbucks. It has quite the sweet taste and delivers an outstanding espresso through light roasted coffee beans. Tasting this coffee gives you a whole new experience, as it provides hints of lemon and orange too.

Is espresso stronger than regular coffee?

This is very much a myth. In fact, the strength of coffee and caffeine is determined by more than just the type of coffee you are having. So, let’s take a look at the factors that do influence the taste and the strength of your coffee.


One of the things that can influence a good tasting coffee is the saturation of the grind. To ensure you get all the caffeine from the grind, you must make sure the grounds are evenly distributed. Once the water comes through, it will improve the taste and the overall caffeine content.

Not many people are sure what the saturation process entails, so let us elaborate on how to get the best results and a cup of espresso you like as a consequence. When you place the grounds in the portafilter, make sure that everything is evenly distributed and that you tamp the coffee down strongly.


The temperature of the water will play a crucial role in making a good-tasting espresso. To make a good coffee, or espresso in this case, you need the right temperature. It usually lies between 190 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit, but this may vary slightly depending on the manufacturer of your espresso maker. It is always a good idea to check all these details in the instructions of the coffee maker.

Brewing time

It is important to know that the caffeine in your brew is released during the first minute of the brewing process. As such, time is a crucial component to create the best cup of coffee.

For an amazing tasting espresso, you should stick with a time between 20 and 30 seconds. Evidently, brewing a regular coffee will take a little longer, as the water drips through slower.

Coffee bean grind

Another vital factor to create a good tasting coffee, and a factor that could influence the strength of your coffee, is the coffee bean grind you use. As we briefly mentioned earlier, the overall grind of your coffee can influence the amount of caffeine you get in your coffee.

Of course, various coffee beans can also have different caffeine content. To ensure you get a caffeine content close to your liking, always check what caffeine content you are getting on your product.

The way you grind can have an influence on the caffeine content too. The finer the grind, the easier the caffeine will be transferred to your cup of coffee. A fine grind is also best for espresso, as a coarse grind will not give you the best result.

Additional Coffee Drinks To Try

Coffee lovers already know that there are more types of coffee to try out there. To ensure you have a few to experiment with, be sure to check out the overview of additional recipes below!


This popular drink is easily made by combining some hot water with one or two shots of espresso. It was actually invented during war time, but remained popular in America once the war was over.


Most people adore a good latte. It is made with some steamed milk and one shot of regular coffee. For most lattes, you will notice a frothy surface. However, this particular option is often confused with a flat white.


This is arguably the most popular type of coffee in the world. The reason why is not hard to find, because it is made up out of three different layers. The bottom layer consists of a shot of espresso, followed by some steamed milk and some frothy milk on top.

It is not uncommon for baristas to add some additional ingredients on top of the cappuccino. Chocolate shavings or chocolate powder are most popular, but other ingredients can be used too.

Flat white

The flat white is a coffee that originates from Australia and New Zealand. It consists of steamed milk, which is poured over an espresso shot. However, contrary to the latte, this version is creamier.


Most people do not see the difference between the macchiato and the cappuccino. However, there is a difference. To create a macchiato, the barista uses as shot of espresso and then adds some foamed milk directly into a coffee cup. Evidently, the macchiato is stronger than the cappuccino, as it does not contain an additional layer of steamed milk.

Irish coffee

Our last recommendation is a lot different from previous recommendations, as it is made with whiskey, sugar and cream. This heavy coffee is obviously not available everywhere because of its alcohol content, but you can try it at home without much worry.

Please note that you should stick to an Irish coffee recipe religiously, as using the wrong quantities or the wrong whiskey could cause the entire thing to fall apart. Fortunately, there are plenty of recipes online, so even those with little experience where coffee brewing is concerned will have no trouble creating this hidden gem.

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About Shabbir

Shabbir is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee In My Veins. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.