Some coffee enthusiasts swear by a tiny cup of espresso for their daily caffeine fix, while others are diehard fans of a traditional cup of black joe. Espresso is famous for its extra kick, but is this aromatic brew stronger than black coffee?
Espresso is stronger by the ounce. It is a more concentrated dose of coffee. However, espresso is served in smaller servings and has less caffeine per serving than black coffee. A single espresso shot is 1oz, containing 63mg of caffeine, compared to an 8oz cup of black coffee with 95mg of caffeine.
Espresso and black coffee are altogether different, boasting different strength levels. So we are here to finally end the ongoing debate about which coffee is more potent and contains more caffeine.
Is Espresso Stronger Than Black Coffee?
Espresso coffee is touted as a potent coffee shot. It is essentially stronger, thicker, and more concentrated than black coffee when comparing the drinks ounce by ounce.
Espresso is a thicker, more concentrated drink packed with flavor, nutrients, oils, and caffeine. Espresso is more potent than black coffee. However, an average espresso serving contains less caffeine than a standard cup of black coffee.
Does Espresso Have More Caffeine Than Black Coffee?
There is confusion about whether espresso or black coffee contains more caffeine.
Espresso machines produce higher caffeine concentrations than coffee makers. However, a single espresso serving is tiny compared to a regular cup of coffee. So, espresso ultimately contains less caffeine per serving.
Espresso contains higher levels of caffeine per volume but lower levels per average serving.
On average, espressos machines roughly express 504mg of caffeine per 8oz. In comparison, coffee makers measure around 95mg of caffeine per 8oz.
So, if you were to drink equal portions of espresso and coffee, espresso would outperform a cup of black coffee with its eyes shut. However, when comparing espresso and black coffee by typical servings, a standard cup of joe contains substantially more caffeine than a 1oz shot of espresso.
Single Espresso Shot: Caffeine Content
On average, a single 1oz shot of espresso contains approximately 40 to 63mg of caffeine.
This is less than half the caffeine content in an average cup of black coffee.
Espresso is mostly made with dark roasted Arabica bean varieties to increase the capacity to withstand the high-pressure. Darker roasts generally boast a rich, low-acidity flavor, making them ideal for mixing with milk in cappuccinos, lattes, and flat whites.
Darker roasts like the Arabica bean typically contain less caffeine than light roasts like the Robusta bean. Because espresso is mostly made with a darker roast Arabica bean, the caffeine content does not vary as much as with filter coffee.
Cup of Black Coffee: Caffeine Content
On average, a standard 8oz cup of coffee contains approximately 70 to 140 mg of caffeine.
This is more than double the caffeine content in an 1oz espresso shot.
Espresso is mainly made with dark roasted Arabica bean varieties to increase the capacity to withstand the high-pressure. Darker roasts generally boast a rich, low-acidity flavor, making them ideal for mixing with milk in cappuccinos, lattes, and flat whites.
Darker roasts like the Arabica bean typically contain less caffeine than light roasts like the Robusta bean. Because espresso is mainly made with a darker roast Arabica bean, the caffeine content does not vary as much as with filter coffee.
Espresso vs. Black Coffee: Brewing Method & Coffee Grind
The reason why espresso is more potent than black coffee boils down to the different brewing methods and grind of the coffee bean.
Espresso grounds are extremely fine compared to regular coffee grounds. Therefore, the water can absorb more of the beans’ intense flavor, nutrients, and caffeine in a shorter time. Finer coffee grounds result in a thicker, stronger, and more concentrated drink.
The espresso machine uses extremely high pressure to force near-boiling water or steam through a “puck” of finely ground coffee beans. The process results in a rich, intensely flavored shot of coffee within seconds.
In comparison, a regular black cup of joe is made with a coffee maker – non-electric French press, pour-over model, or drip coffee maker – that relies on gravity to gradually filter water through medium to coarse coffee grounds. The coarser grounds and more extended brewing method result in a diluted, less intense drink.
Do Espresso and Black Coffee Taste The Same?
Even though espresso and black coffee share the same bean origins, they do not taste the same. The coffee beans are crafted with a specific destination in mind.
Espresso beans are roasted for longer and have a finer ground, whereas coffee beans intended for coffee makers are roasted for shorter periods and are coarser.
Roasting the coffee beans allows the natural essential oils of the beans to shine, giving the longer-roasted espresso beans a rich flavor and thick-bodied texture. In comparison, drip coffee is lighter, less concentrated, and offers a slightly more acidic, fruity flavor to espresso.
So, if you prefer a darker, richer flavor, espressos and espresso-based drinks are the way to go. However, a regular cup of coffee is better suited for someone who prefers a less intense taste.
Can You Make Espresso Stronger?
Brewing a pleasant espresso shot is complex. Making espresso stronger requires the perfect balance between the grind size, pressure, water temperature, and the amount of water, basically the entire extraction process itself.
Finding the perfect balance while making the coffee stronger is exceptionally challenging. So, we recommend strengthening your espresso shot by brewing a double shot.
Note: if the grind size is overly coarse, you will end up with a weak, watery espresso. So, you can adjust the grind size to find the right balance and make the espresso stronger.
Can You Make Black Coffee Stronger?
Simply adjust the coffee-water ratio to make a stronger cup of black coffee. Likewise, you can add more coffee grounds to your morning brew to produce a stronger cup.
Most brew methods use a 1-part coffee and 18 parts water coffee-water ratio. Start with the 1:18 ratio and add more coffee grounds until you find the perfect intensity.
Note that a higher ratio than 1:16 will result in an under-extracted, sour-tasting cup of coffee. Consider switching to a darker roast if the coffee still isn’t strong enough.
Espresso is stronger than black coffee and contains more caffeine when compared to an ounce for ounce. But we rarely sip on an 8oz cup of concentrated espresso.
You can sip your regular cup of joe or espresso for a morning jolt. It’s simply a matter of preference.