If you are like most Americans, your day only starts when you have had a hot cup of Morning Joe. From Keurig coffee makers to percolators, to drip brew coffee pots, every single one of us has a favorite way of making coffee in the morning.
But what if you like a regular cup of coffee and you only have an espresso machine at home? Can espresso machines make regular coffee?
Not in the traditional way, no.
However, you can still make some amazing caffeine-based drinks that are similar to the standard cup of coffee you love.
Let’s take an in-depth look to find out how regular coffee is made, how espresso is made, and what you can make when you are looking for a compromise.
Is It Possible to Make Regular Coffee with an Espresso Machine?
You won’t be able to make your standard drip-brewed coffee with an espresso machine. That’s because the process of brewing these two beverages is quite different. In addition, you also grind coffee beans differently, which will give you different results.
How to Make Espresso
With espresso, you force very hot water under high pressure through very finely grounded and smooth coffee beans. This gives you a bolder flavor with a higher caffeine concentration.
By tamping down the coffee, you allow even distribution of the water through the grounds, which gives you a thicker and stronger beverage, with an almost syrupy consistency since it has both solid and dissolved components.
Espresso also has a layer of crema on top — a type of foam that is caused by air bubbles from the brewing process and the coffee bean's soluble oils. The resulting beverage is more full-bodied with a roasted aroma and dissolves about 12% of the coffee.
In Italy, espresso was first traditionally made with robusta beans, which have a darker and bolder flavor than Arabic beans.
Today, however, robusta beans are considered not very good quality and hence are only used in low-cost coffee. On the other hand, Arabic beans have a lot of flavor and aroma and hence are more expensive as well.
To make a good espresso, you need to use darker, higher quality beans — which preferably means freshly roasted Arabica coffee beans.
How to Make Regular Coffee
On the other hand, standard or drip-brewed coffee allows gravity to do all the work of extracting the flavors and aromas from the coffee. The coffee is placed on a filter and water is gently poured on it, allowing the coffee to bloom as the water slowly drips down.
Since the brewing process is less aggressive in this one, the percentage of dissolved coffee particles in regular coffee is only 2%, which is why you do not get as big a jolt from it as espresso.
The best types of beans for regular coffee are medium to extra coarse beans.
The Difference Between Regular Coffee and Espresso
You cannot make a standard cup of coffee with an espresso machine, but not because it has different ingredients. It is because of the texture of the ground beans as well as the varying levels of pressure and speed involved in the two different processes.
The hotter the water, the faster the coffee blooms and the caffeine can be extracted from the bean. With espresso, the heated water is forced through the beans under high pressure. This allows more caffeine to be removed quickly and slip into your cup of joe.
We have mentioned above how fine coffee grinds are the best option for espresso. This is because the finer grind does not have large spaces between the coffee, preventing water from flowing out too quickly.
Instead, it allows the water to be evenly distributed in the coffee grounds and come out with force, dragging out more caffeine with it. If you want higher caffeine levels, all you need to do is to add more grounds of coffee to your espresso machine.
Is Espresso Just as Strong as Regular Coffee?
When it comes to the final product, one of the main differences is the strength between regular coffee and espresso. So, which one of the brews has a bigger kick?
If taken in the same amount, espresso has a higher kick than coffee. Espresso has about 163 mg of caffeine in a single ounce, according to the Department of Agriculture. In comparison, regular coffee only has about 12 to 16 mg of caffeine in an ounce.
A double espresso shot is about 2 ounces while a single cup of coffee is about 4 to 8 ounces. If you measure both these beverages ounce for ounce, espresso has a much higher caffeine content in a single cup as compared to ordinary coffee.
So, Is Regular Coffee the Same as Watered-Down Espresso?
A lot of people ask whether coffee is watered-down espresso. As we explained before, this is not the case because coffee and espresso are made following two completely different types of processes.
Espresso uses finer grinds with pressurized heat while coffee uses a slow drip with a filter. Hence, coffee is not watered down espresso.
Is There a Thing Like Watered-Down Espresso?
Do you know what happens when you add some water to your espresso? You, of course, get a weakened version of espresso. And if you add water in the same quantity as the espresso, you get the Caffe Americano.
The Americano is one of the most popular types of coffee in American cafes made from an espresso machine. This is also often confused with regular coffee since both have similar taste, aroma, and kick. However, the brewing procedure is entirely different.
So, if you do not have a regular coffee maker at home but just an espresso machine, pouring some water in your espresso can give you an Americano, which comes pretty close to a regular cup of coffee.
Alternative to Coffee
Just because you cannot make regular coffee with your espresso machine doesn’t mean you should start your day without much-needed caffeine.
There are plenty of other concoctions you can try since your espresso machine does not just make espresso. It can make a whole range of several different drinks, some of them which are pretty similar to regular coffee — and all you need is some extra water.
When it comes to some of the most popular types of coffee, Cappucino makes it to one of the five top drinks on the list. Although cappuccino is nothing like your regular morning cup of joe, it is still one of the most delicious drinks you can get out of an espresso machine.
Cappuccino is made of equal part espresso and steamed milk. Plus, you add a layer of milk foam or cream at the top to give it that extra oomph factor.
The drink is quite sweet from all the dairy but it still has a strong coffee flavor and a nice kick from the espresso shot.
Another one of the most dessert-like espresso-based beverages is the latte. It is one of the creamiest and richest types of coffee that you can make from an espresso machine.
The drink consists of one-third part espresso, two-thirds part steamed milk, with a nice film of microfoam on the top. This makes the drink super-creamy and thick.
To make it even more flavorful, you can also add a flavored syrup to the blend like pumpkin, blueberry, and mint.
Another very popular version of latte is the mocha latte, which consists of espresso mixed with steamed chocolate milk. Once you have that, there is no need for dessert after dinner.
Dual-Brew Machines Can Make Both Coffee and Espresso
Fortunately, you do not have to choose between getting a coffee maker or an espresso machine these days. There are several dual-brew machines available in the market that can allow you to make a variety of coffee drinks.
These machines are also aptly known as “mini baristas” and come with extra tools that allow frothing, blending, and different types of brewing. Some of these machines will also grind your coffee beans before you decide to brew your coffee, espresso, or other drink.
However, a mini barista is priced on the high end of coffee machines. If all you have is an espresso machine at your disposal, you can easily use it to churn out a quick cup of Americano just by adding some water to it.
So Can Espresso Machines Make Regular Coffee?
The thing is that you can do much better than that. You may not be able to make a regular cup of coffee from your espresso machine, but you can still make a variety of other different drinks, a few of which taste remarkably like coffee. You can also choose to make richer brews that can satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.
In the end, it all depends on your preference and how creative you are willing to get with your espresso machine.
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