Just like people, coffee also comes in various forms. Talking about types of coffee, cold brew and espresso are two of the most famous kinds of coffee in terms of consumption. Among the world of differences between these two, the brewing method and the caffeine level are what make them unique in their own way.
Hence we have put together a comprehensive comparison so that you choose better the next time you are about to get yourself a cuppa.
Remember iced coffee? Cold-brew is just that, but stronger. It has its roots in a coffee company called Stumptown in the USA and was then popularized by Starbucks years later.
Even though quite similar to iced coffee, it is a lot more tasty and smooth.
The consistency is achieved by soaking the coffee grounds in room temperature water for long periods of time.
The time of soaking can vary from anything between six to twelve hours. As a result of this, the acidic taste of coffee is hence washed off.
The steeped coffee mix can then be later mixed with ice-cold water to make the complete drink. The desired result of the brewing process is not to make it into a final product but to make the perfect concoction to which you can add ice, water, or milk according to your taste.
Hence, unlike other coffees, you need not be very particular about the kind of coffee ground for cold brew or the amount of water that you are using. In this type of coffee, water is more important than the kind of grind. Make sure that the water feels good in your mouth, it is advised to use filtered water. Most of the smoothness that a good cold brew has comes from the kind of water used.
Also read: How to make cold brew coffee.
Like cold brew, espresso is also strong and dark. It is generally taken in form of “shots” in tiny cups. It is perfect when you need a boost of energy to get through a long night of work. Aside from being its own drink, it also serves as a base for other coffees like lattes, frappuccino, cappuccino, etc.
The key to making espresso is fine grinding. The finely ground espresso beans are compressed to precision while hot pressurized water is forced through the coffee.
Espresso is also a lot more acidic than cold brew. But, because of its high caffeine level, espresso is taken in smaller portions.
The origins of espresso can be traced to Italy in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Espresso was a result of the attempt to try making coffee in a shorter time with much less effort. It takes less than a minute to make and is also stronger than most coffees. Today we have espresso steam pump machines that force the steam mechanically, making the process a lot easier.
You may wanna read this detailed post on what is Espresso.
Cold Brew vs Espresso: The Key Differences
Since cold brew is less bitter in taste, the more natural tastes of the coffee tend to come out. So cold brew tastes more cocoa to earthy. It feels very smooth to the taste buds. Moreover, as it is brewed for longer, it brings out the rich flavors of coffee. At the same time, it also does not have the rich aromas that hot brewed coffee has.
On the contrary, a perfect shot of espresso is thick and intense, having a creamy texture. Being a hot beverage, espresso has nice aromas, having nutty and chocolate-like undertones.
2. Caffeine Level
For cold brew, a lot more coffee is required than any other coffee drink. Moreover, since it is steeped in water for some time, a standard 8-oz cold brew coffee drink would contain 250 mg of caffeine. Therefore, to reduce the caffeine intake, it is diluted with water or milk.
On the other hand, the very little brewing time results in a lower caffeine level. The typical espresso contains 68 mg of caffeine.
3. Brewing Time
For cold brew, the brewing time can take anything between 12 to 14 hours. If you want a stronger brew, then you need to reduce the diluting water, increasing the steeping period.
Unlike cold brew, espresso requires dark roast so that you can extract flavors from them more easily and quickly. The normal brewing time of espresso is 20-35 seconds.
4. Coffee Grind
For a longer brewing time, cold brew requires a coarse grind of coffee beans. In contrast, as espresso takes seconds to make, you will need finely ground coffee beans so that the flavors are easily extracted.
The thing about acidity in coffees is that it increases with temperature. This is the reason cold brew coffee has less bitterness than any other brewed coffee.
Moreover, the longer you soak the coffee beans, the less acidic your cold brew becomes.
At the same time, the general ph level of coffee is around 4.89 while in the case of espresso it is between 5.5-6 which makes it less acidic than other coffee drinks that use light and medium roast coffee beans. The low acidic level of espresso comes from the dark roast coffee beans.
Cold-brew is a bit more expensive than other coffees. You’d normally get it for $3.95 – $6 per cup. On the other hand, espresso is quite cheap. The prices depend on the quality of the espresso machine. Therefore, espresso can be $2 – $4 per shot.
Although cold brew has more caffeine, it makes a light and smooth drink. However, espresso takes a lot less time to make, simultaneously having a bittersweet taste. Now that you know the basic differences between cold brew coffee and espresso, we hope this is a first step towards you becoming a coffee connoisseur. The deadlines might be heaping up, but hey, at least you know your coffee!