white mug of coffee over a spread of coffee beans

Is Espresso Stronger Than Coffee: Quick Answer Is…

Are you in need of a caffeine-kick stronger than what your regular cup of joe provides? A shot of espresso might just be what you need. But, is espresso stronger than coffee? We’re here to find out.

Is Espresso Stronger Than Coffee?

An espresso shot contains between 60 and 100 milligrams of caffeine, whereas a standard cup (12-ounce) of drip coffee can contain around 128 milligrams. Meaning, you’ll get more caffeine by drinking a cup of drip coffee. However, espresso has more caffeine per ounce than regular coffee.

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We’ve got more to share as we compare espresso vs other popular coffee types, including Americano and regular coffee. Is espresso simply just a strong regular coffee served in a miniature cup? We’ve got the answers to how much caffeine is in coffee.

What is Espresso Exactly?

Originating from Milan, Italy, around the 1900s, espresso is a concentrated, bitter, dark coffee. The name roughly translates to “pressed-out,” which refers to how the fine-ground coffee beans are pushed through an espresso machine using water and steam.

This method results in highly concentrated coffee with a thin layer of creamy foam on top, giving it a more lush texture and look.

When you make regular coffee in a drip machine using coffee grounds, it’s normal to use lots of water (some can hold up to 12 cups). However, an espresso requires no more than a shot glass of water, which is why the coffee is so concentrated.

What is the Difference Between Espresso and Regular Coffee?

The grind’s fineness and the time it takes to brew the coffee differentiate espressos and regular coffee. Espresso is made of ground beans, usually ground directly by the espresso machine before brewing. Thus, the coffee has a thicker consistency, and you can make it much quicker than regular coffee. 

It can take up to 30 seconds to make an espresso depending on the machine, whereas drip coffee can take between three and five minutes.

Does Espresso Have More Caffeine Than Coffee?

There’s quite some confusion as to how much caffeine in a coffee cup is compared to espresso. And sure, if you compare one shot of espresso to a full cup of coffee, the mug will have more caffeine.

However, people don’t drink espresso in a mug, and you certainly don’t drink coffee in an espresso cup. A regular coffee cup can hold between 8 and 24 ounces, whereas a single espresso shot is usually around 1 ounce.

In conclusion: Per ounce, espresso has a higher amount of caffeine than regular coffee.

How Much Caffeine in a Cup of Coffee?

An 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine. Depending on the coffee blend, the caffeine content of espresso can vary between 60 and 100 milligrams.

Why is Espresso Served in Small Quantities?

Espresso is pressed coffee made with very little water, increasing its concentration and giving it a thicker consistency. You serve espresso in 1- or 2-ounce servings because it would be unhealthy to drink 8 or 12 ounces in one go.

Another reason why espresso gets served in small cups is to preserve the crema, which is the signature frothy layer on an espresso. The crema is an essential part of the perfect espresso since it’s a sign that the beans are fresh-ground. A good crema will also lock in the espresso’s aromas, optimizing the flavor.

espresso served on clear glass cup, is espresso stronger than coffee

If a single or double espresso shot gets served in a wide cup, the crema will dissolve, detracting from the taste and leaving an unappealing look behind.

What Makes an Espresso “Stronger”?

The espresso flavor is quite different from drip coffee or even brewed coffee in a French press. Espresso has a bitter taste that some people find off-putting at the first sip. But is espresso stronger than coffee? The roast level will make the flavor stronger and more bitter, but it won’t increase caffeine.

There are three primary levels of roasting, including:

  • Light roast: Roasted at temperatures between 385 and 401 degrees Fahrenheit (196 and 205 degrees Celsius).
  • Medium roast: Roasted at temperatures between 410 and 426 degrees Fahrenheit (210 and 219 degrees Celsius).
  • Dark roast: Roasted at temperatures between 437 and 446 degrees Fahrenheit (225 and 230 degrees Celsius). 
4 different roasted coffee beans from green beans on the left to dark roast on the right, is espresso stronger than coffee

There’s a common misconception that the darker the roast, the higher the caffeine content. But, this is simply not true. The caffeine content remains relatively stable throughout the roasting process, whether light or dark.

On the other hand, the more you roast the coffee beans, the more flavor they get, which is why dark roast is the strongest and the most bitter. However, bitterness also comes from the bean, which leads us to the next section.

The Proof Is in the Bean

There are two main types of coffee beans: Robusta and Arabica. The beans are the factor that determines flavor, bitterness, and caffeine levels—roasting will only enhance the natural flavor.

one arabica bean and one robusta bean side by side, is espresso stronger than coffee


The Arabica coffee bean mostly grows at high altitudes. They’re more challenging to cultivate and harvest, making the bean the most expensive of the two types. 

In saying that, it’s also the most popular bean with its sweeter taste and smoother texture. Moreover, the bean will often have hints of berries or fruits, giving you a more “exotic” flavor. When you look at the bean, it has a longer shape than the short and stout Robusta. 


Robusta is a common variety of Coffea Canephora. It has a more bitter taste, with rubbery or grainy overtones, causing it to be considered less refined than Arabica in taste.

Despite the lack of refinement, Robusta is widely incorporated in espresso blends as it produces a better crema.

Robusta is also easier to cultivate since the plant is highly resistant to pests and diseases. On top of that, Robusta beans also pack more caffeine per bean.

Is Espresso Just Really Strong Coffee?

Espresso includes blends of certain beans, such as those we mentioned above. The roast level makes the most significant difference between “regular” coffee and espresso. 

In general, espresso beans get roasted at the medium or dark level—very rarely do you see light-roasted espresso beans.

If you’re new to espresso or don’t like a bitter coffee, go for a medium roast. A medium roast will give you a good balance of flavor and bitterness. 

Is an Americano Stronger Than an Espresso?

An Americano coffee has a similar caffeine content as drip coffee, depending on how many shots of espresso the barista uses. Many cafes will use two shots of espresso, despite the normal being one espresso shot.

Overall, an Americano has a caffeine content between 94 and 150 milligrams.

Espresso-Based Drinks

There are many ways to enjoy an espresso, even if you don’t particularly like black coffee. Many popular coffee drinks are actually based on espresso with a few additions. Here are some examples:

  • Cappuccino: One of the most popular coffees and based on two shots of espresso, finished off with steamed milk foam, and served hot. You can add cinnamon for additional flavor.
  • Cafe latte: A shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and served hot.
  • Mocha: Similar to a latte, this coffee includes a shot of coffee, steamed milk, and chocolate. 
  • Macchiato: A single shot of espresso topped with steamed milk foam and served hot.
  • Americano: One shot of espresso topped with hot water. It has the same taste as espresso but a thinner consistency.
  • Flat white: A shot of espresso topped with microfoam.

Is Espresso the Coffee for You?

By now, you should have a good knowledge of espresso, so is it the right kind of coffee for you? Coffee is an acquired taste, and it usually takes a few cups before most people begin liking it. Add the concentration and bitterness of espresso, and you can imagine the face that some people make after the first sip.

If you’re entirely new to coffee, espresso might taste too strong. In saying that, you will likely warm up to the flavor after a few sips.

You can always opt for espresso-based drinks instead, such as the ones we mentioned above.

Here’s a video for more information on the differences between coffee and espresso.

Related Questions

How to Drink Espresso?

Espresso isn’t the kind of coffee you chug on your way to work. Instead, there’s a certain authenticity to espresso in the way it’s made, served, and consumed. 

You sip espresso slowly while allowing the flavors to amuse your tastebuds. It’s completely fine to add a little bit of sugar to sweeten the taste; however, you might alter the taste by adding too much sugar.

Does Espresso Taste Stronger Than Coffee?

Espresso has a more roasted, well-rounded, full-body flavor than your regular cup of joe. The bean blend, roast-level, and brewing method are what sets espresso apart from coffee.

Coffee-enthusiasts and espresso-lovers will often insist that the paper filter in drip coffee makers is what saps the flavor from the coffee, making drip coffee less potent than espresso.

Is Espresso Coffee Healthy?

When consumed in moderations, espresso can be very healthy. Studies have shown that drinking a shot of espresso a day can improve memory, increase concentration, help you lose weight, and even reduce the risk of stroke.