Espresso has been one of the staples of the coffee world for many years.
Cold brew, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the scene. But it’s certainly gaining popularity very quickly.
So that begs the question, how exactly do these two titans of coffee stack up against one another? How are they different?
The main difference between espresso and cold brew is the method of preparation. Espresso is made by forcing hot water through coffee beans at high pressure, whereas cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for an extended period of time.
But let’s take that a step further and dive deep into the world of espresso and cold brew.
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What Is Cold Brew?
Before we start talking about the differences between the two, it’s probably best to go over what each one actually is.
Let’s start with cold brew.
Cold brew is a coffee-making method in which the coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for an extended period, typically 12-24 hours.
The result is a smoother, less acidic, and less bitter cup of coffee than what is typically produced by hot brewing methods.
The cold brewing method means less acidic oils are extracted from the beans.
Is cold brew any good? Well, whether or not cold brew coffee is good is a matter of personal preference.
Some people enjoy the smooth, less acidic taste, while others prefer the more robust flavor of traditionally hot brewed coffee.
It's really up to you to decide whether or not you like it. If you haven't tried it before, it might be worth trying to see if it suits your taste.
I find cold brew to be pleasant and mellow. It’s perfect for hot days when you need something refreshing.
But something that cold brew is not is iced coffee.
Iced coffee is regular coffee brewed hot and served over ice.
The two methods produce coffee with different flavors. Iced coffee is typically brewed stronger than cold brew to account for the ice melting and diluting the flavor.
What Is Espresso?
Now that we’ve covered cold brew, let’s quickly go over the basics of what makes an espresso coffee.
Espresso is a type of coffee made by forcing hot water through ground coffee beans at high pressure.
It is typically served in small, concentrated amounts and has a bold, rich flavor.
Espresso is the base for many other types of coffee drinks, such as cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas.
You do need an espresso machine to make proper espresso coffee. The machine forces hot water through the ground coffee beans at high pressure to produce a concentrated shot of coffee.
The process of making espresso is a little more complex than a more traditional brewing process. It’s also more complex than cold brew.
To make espresso, you have to grind the coffee beans, fill the portafilter, and tamp the ground coffee into a compact puck before starting the shot.
The exact process can vary depending on the type of espresso machine being used and the preferences of the person making the espresso.
You might enjoy the bold, rich flavor of espresso. Or you might find it too strong and prefer other types of coffee.
You should give it a try if you haven’t yet. And remember that espresso is the base of most popular cafe drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
Cold Brew Vs. Espresso: All Differences Explained
Now that we’ve covered cold brew and espresso, let’s go over the big differences between them.
As I said earlier, the main difference between the two is in the preparation. Espresso is made by forcing hot water through coffee grounds, while cold brew is made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water for a long time.
The two methods produce coffee with different flavors, with espresso having a bold, rich taste and cold brew generally having a smoother, less acidic flavor.
Additionally, espresso is typically served in small, concentrated amounts, while cold brew is usually served in larger quantities.
You might order a cold brew if you prefer a smoother and gentler coffee style than a straight espresso. Or if you’re looking for a cold coffee drink.
Cold brew is typically less bitter than espresso, so it may be a good choice for people who find traditional coffee too strong.
Additionally, cold brew is typically served in larger quantities than espresso, so it may be a good choice if you want a more filling coffee drink.
You might order an espresso instead if you prefer a bolder and richer coffee.
Espresso is a more concentrated coffee with a stronger taste than cold brew, so it may be a good choice if you want a more intense coffee experience.
Also, espresso is the base for many other types of coffee drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas, so you’ll end up drinking espresso if you order one of those drinks.
Ultimately, the decision to order an espresso or a cold brew comes down to personal preference.
Does Cold Brew Taste Better Than Espresso?
Whether or not cold brew tastes better than espresso is a matter of personal preference.
Some people prefer the smooth flavor of cold brew, while others enjoy espresso's bold, rich flavor.
It's really up to you to decide which one you like better.
But I will say this: a proper espresso made from high-quality coffee beans and consumed without milk has some of the most interesting and unique characteristics I’ve ever tasted in coffee.
Most cold brews tend to be one-dimensional. However, I prefer cold brew when I want something refreshing or more filling.
If you haven't tried both cold brew and espresso before, it might be worth giving them both a try to see which one you like better.
Does Cold Brew Have More Caffeine Than Espresso?
It's difficult to say for certain whether cold brew or espresso has more caffeine, as the caffeine content of both can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the type of beans used, the grind size, and the brewing time.
In general, however, cold brew coffee tends to have less caffeine than espresso, as the brewing process extracts less caffeine from the beans than the high-pressure brewing process used to make espresso.
However, cold brew is typically served in larger quantities than espresso, so you may end up consuming more caffeine overall if you drink cold brew instead of espresso.
Is Cold Brew More Acidic Than Espresso?
Cold brew coffee is generally less acidic than espresso.
This is because the extended brewing time used to make cold brew coffee allows for a slower and more gentle extraction of the coffee beans, which results in a less acidic cup.
The lower brewing temperature used to make cold brew coffee helps to further reduce the acidity of the drink.
While the acidity of both cold brew and espresso can vary depending on the type of beans used and the brewing method, cold brew is generally considered to be less acidic than espresso.