Read up, coffee lovers. Nutrition experts compare espresso vs. brewed coffee, including their calories, nutrition, potential health benefits, and caffeine levels (in both full-strength and decaf).Some people claim that the only “true” coffee is a tiny cup of espresso. Others are die-hard fans of a simple cup of drip joe. Both are delicious caffeinated drinks, but is one better than the other? Social Diary tells you what sets them apart, plus everything else you need to know about how espresso and coffee differ.
Espresso means “express” in Italian, a hint at one way it’s different from coffee. It takes about 25 seconds to brew a 1-ounce shot and requires a special machine or pot to make it. While drip and pour-over coffee send hot water over coffee grounds (over a longer period of time), espresso is made by forcing boiling water or steam under pressure through finely-ground coffee beans. The hot water, pressure, and very finely ground beans make espresso an intense beverage. The concentrated drink is a smaller serving size than a regular cup of drip coffee, about 1.5 to 2 ounces. Ounce for ounce, espresso has about five times the amount of caffeine as brewed coffee. Typically, a 1-ounce shot of espresso contains between 40 and 75 mg of caffeine (a 2-ounce cup would be 127 mg), while an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains anywhere from 85 to 185 mg. Espresso has a higher concentration of caffeine per ounce. A few sips of espresso gives you a boost of energy. It may take at least two cups of coffee to get the same boost of energy. But there are some other factors to consider. Although espresso has a more concentrated caffeine content, serving sizes of espresso are smaller than those of brewed coffee. If you are a decaf fan, know that both beverages can be made from decaffeinated coffee beans. In that case, a 2-ounce cup of decaf espresso contains about 0.6 mg of caffeine, and an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains 2.4 mg of caffeine.
Although both espresso and regular coffee contain mostly water, they are not calorie-free. One cup (8 fluid ounces) of brewed coffee has 2.4 calories. One standard cup of espresso (2 fluid ounces) has 5.4 calories. Note that espresso contains more calories per ounce than coffee because it’s concentrated. However, a typical cup of espresso is a smaller serving size than that of an average coffee cup. Adding in any mix-ins like cream, milk, or sugar to either beverage obviously increases calories.Coffee contains antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols that can decrease oxidative stress (which plays a role in disease development) by eliminating damaging free radicals. More specifically, its chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, caffeic acid, and n-coumaric acid as key antioxidants in coffee. Several factors affect the antioxidant profile of coffee beverages, including the brewing method and bean variety.
The brewing method of espresso vs. coffee can affect antioxidant levels. But the coffee beans themselves also play a role in whether one cup is more antioxidant-rich tan another. That goes for both coffee and espresso, which are brewed from the same beans. Consider the quality, age, and freshness of the coffee beans. How the beans were farmed, the soil in which they grew, how long they were roasted, how long it has been since they were ground, and the extraction process used to prepare them all have an impact. Espresso may have an advantage over drip coffee in terms of antioxidant content, given that coffee beans are typically ground right before making espresso. Many drip-coffee drinkers use pre-ground coffee that sits in the pantry and on store shelves prior to use. And the longer coffee beans sit ground, the greater their antioxidant loss. Overall, though, debating espresso vs. coffee based on each drink’s antioxidant content may not be as helpful. Pay close attention to the coffee beans you use—as well as the rest of your diet. While these antioxidants can contribute to overall health, what is most important is to make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet full of fruits and veggies, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains.