Many people are confused about the difference between an espresso machine and a coffee maker. But to understand the difference between the two, it is essential first to know the products they make. As their names suggest, one makes espresso and the other coffee. Espresso is a blend of a variety of beans to result in subdued acidity, body and sweet balance to bitter flavors. Coffee, on the other hand, lacks the real whole range of flavors and oils found in coffee beans.
To help you understand better what makes an espresso and coffee maker different below is a breakdown of the various elements that set the two apart.
Extraction Mechanism: Pump vs. Gravity
The two machines use different methods to brew their particular beverage. An espresso machine uses a manual piston, steam or pump to force nearly boiling water through the ground coffee under high pressure. The suitable pressure should be 9-bar, but some machine can be equipped with a 15-bar pump.
For the coffee maker, heated water seeps through coffee grounds on a filter and then it comes out through gravity extracting flavor and aroma from the ground. Here, gravity plays the bigger role as only a fraction of the pressure used in an espresso machine can be applied. The pressure is estimated to be at 1-bar.
The two extraction methods take different time as well. An espresso takes 20-30 seconds to finish brewing while coffeemakers take at least 4 minutes.
Grind Size and Consistency
For an espresso machine to brew a perfect cup, variables such as quality and freshness of beans and grind size, have to be at harmonious play. An espresso machine needs the beans to be ground to a fine consistency level. For this to be achieved a burr grinder is essential. But for a coffeemaker, medium level grounds are okay, and a blade grinder can do the job.
An espresso machine requires around 7 grams of ground coffee for 1.5 Oz of water while a coffeemaker needs about two tablespoons for 2-6 Oz of water. Sometimes espresso can be added to coffee in shots, and it is not new to add up to 3 or 4 shots of espresso to a cup of coffee. Espresso is also the base for drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, mocha caffes and Americanos. It is of course also taken alone without mixing it with coffee or milk.
Other differences between the two could be the fact that preparing espresso requires a lot more skills. One needs to choose the freshest coffee beans, correct grind size, setting tamping pressure, regulating the pre-infusion time and extraction time. Working with a coffeemaker, on the other hand, is pure and sometimes even auto-pilot. So at the end of the day, the decision on whether to use an espresso machine or coffee maker will entirely depend on your needs and preferences.