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Espresso versus Turkish coffee, versus Drip coffee

I love coffee, and I enjoy writing about it. As a former barista, I tested various coffee preparation methods and equipment.


Espresso vs. Turkish, vs. Drip coffee

What are the differences between espresso, drip coffee, and Turkish coffee? Taste, aroma, caffeine concentration, serving size, brewing method, grind size and coffee type, make up the uniqueness of a brew type.

Is espresso stronger than a drip coffee, does it contain more caffeine, which one is healthier, whih one is the easiest to prepare. Find the answer to all of these questions, and more.

Photo credit: Ricardo Bernardo via

Dark Roast Coffee Beans

Good beans can be used for any coffee brew method. This dark roast is probably one of the best roasts I have tasted. The Canadian company behind it, has a few other beans that get rave reviews.

If you like dark roasts, this is one of the beans you have to try. It is one of the best coffees on Amazon. It is dark roasted, but it doesn't taste burnt as Starbucks' espresso does.

A dark roast is great on so many levels, but most dark roasts are either burnt, or bitter, or both, it is very hard to find a great roaster, that knows how to do it properly.

The only disadvantage of these beans is the fact that they are very oily. Now this is a great thing, actually, that means the beans are just ready to be brewed, but this is not good fro your super automatic espresso machine, if you have one. It will clog up the machine, and you will need to do some maintenance. If you have a regular grinder, this will not be a problem.

Which One Tastes and Smells Better, Turkish coffee, Espresso, or Drip Coffee?

Organoleptic Properties

Although the taste and aromas are quite different, the most flavorful and the tastier are the espresso and the Turkish coffee. Many people don't like the cloudiness in the more dense coffee brews, so for these people the best option is the drip. The strongest coffee is the espresso, followed by Turkish coffee, (see Caffeine Concentration). This, however can be easily adjusted by adding more grinds to a cup or by reducing the amount of water.

Espresso is great as it is, and it has its distinctive aroma and flavor, uses a strict roasting range, and there is not much you can experiment with, as a coffee lover. The dark roast of espresso, will imprint that caramel taste, unique and specific with this brew.

On the other hand, Turkish and drip are more permissive with the roasting type, and for someone who wants to experiment different coffee flavors, these are the best ways. I will correct myself and remove drip from the equation, just because there is no way you can get the same aroma on a drip coffee machine as with Turkish coffee, not even with a Technivorm. Turkish brew allows you to use beans roasted from very light to Spanish. The advantage with light roasts is that the coffee retains most of its original aroma. For more dark roasts this disappears, being replaced by the specific caramel taste, or just plain burnt taste for the very dark ones.

Here is a list with the organoleptic properties of each of the three brewing variants.


  • Turkish coffee: medium
  • Espresso: medium
  • Drip Coffee: medium

We assume coffee was properly brewed. Any of the three methods can produce bitter coffee, if it's not properly prepared.


  • Turkish coffee: very cloudy
  • Espresso: cloudy
  • Drip Coffee: clear


  • Turkish coffee preserves a lot of the original coffee flavor. Some will prefer very light roasts for preserving the earthy notes of coffee.
  • Espresso has all of the flavors you'd expect in a coffee, but a few times more concentrated. It also has some unique flavors that you will not detect in drip or Turkish coffee, due to the high pressure brewing method.
  • Drip Coffee is the most standardized brewing method. There will be some variances, depending on the coffee origin. In fact, drip coffee is the best at underlining the subtle origin notes.


  • Turkish coffee: the strongest aroma of all methods
  • Espresso: has a strong aroma, but due to lower temperatures and small quantities is not emphasized
  • Drip Coffee: The least flavor of the three methods

Caffeine Concentration

The three methods contain about the same amount of caffeine per gram of coffee beans used. This is the most accurate measurement. If we measure caffeine content per volume, we compare a very concentrated coffee such as espresso, which has 1-2 oz. in volume, with drip coffee which is a 6-8 oz. beverage. They have a similar caffeine content, but the volume is different. They also use about the same amount of coffee grounds for preparation.

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Caffeine Concentration - Drip vs. Espresso vs. Turkish

How Many Spoons per Cup? How Much Caffeine in a Cup?

This is rather complicated and I am warning you, it won't give you a straight answer, but it will help you better understand how to make your own assessment.

As a general rule, the Turkish coffee can be brewed to extract the largest amount of caffeine from the same coffee grinds quantity.

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The espresso will extract the lowest caffeine from the same amount, and the drip coffee is in the middle in terms of extracted amount of caffeine. The interesting part is that for Turkish coffee and espresso we can increase the caffeine amount by simply brewing longer. In both of the cases, the longer brew time to increase caffeine extraction, will affect the aroma of your cup - the more caffeine, the fewer flavors. Additionally, with espresso, by increasing the extraction time, we also lower the concentration, because we add more water. The aromatic oils remain constant, but with dilution in more water the taste will be less strong. In contrast, with Turkish brewing we actually increase the concentration in two ways when we brew longer, by evaporating the water through longer boiling, and through better extraction, the longer we boil, the more caffeine we extract. However, as we mentioned, the relatively volatile oils in the coffee bean are lost through longer brewing.

The drip coffee bears the most standardized caffeine content, as long as we use a standard amount of coffee grinds.

The espresso is the most concentrated coffee type, containing 30 to 50mg of caffeine per one fl oz, but you usually drink a small amount of it, a shot of espresso is around 1 fluid ounce or 30ml.

The Turkish coffee is the next in concentration. I discuss here the generic way to prepare coffee by infusion, which could be very different, depending on culture and personal preferences, hence the strength could be anywhere from near espresso strength, if less water is added, and/or if boiled more. Lebanese coffee, (which uses the same brewing method as Turkish), is prepared by using one teaspoon of coffee grinds in 1.5 to 2 fl oz of water.

The drip coffee contains from 8 to 15mg. caffeine per fluid ounce of beverage, and a regular serving size is 8 fl oz. This results in a a cup of coffee with about 100 mg. of caffeine.

The best tasting coffee is not, as many would think, the strongest coffee, or the one with the most caffeine percentage. Usually, extracting more caffeine, modifies the coffee taste, rendering it acidic.

Isn't Espresso the Strongest Coffee?

Yes, I know this is the question that pops up in your mind, "I thought espresso was the strongest coffee..." And you are right, espresso has the most caffeine concentration by volume, hence it is the strongest. You stop a shot when it blondes, whereas with drip, you stop it when the brewed liquid is almost transparent. So from the same amount of ground coffee you get 1 oz vs 6 oz. The total caffeine quantity in espresso is the lowest of the three brewing methods. How come you get jitters and heart palpitations? That's from the way you drink your coffee, an espresso shot will be difficult to drink with small sips over time, especially by espresso beginners, this results in a large caffeine quantity ingested in a short time. This is what gives you the jitters. If you drank a 6 oz cup of drip, you would get the same symptoms.

Coffee Beans - Espresso vs. Turkish vs. Drip Coffee

Espresso Beans vs. Drip Coffee Beans

This is one of the most interesting facts about coffee brewing. Coffee beans are the same for any type of brew. The logical question that one might ask is "How come it tastes so different?" The answer is in the preparation. The temperature, grind size, pressure, brewing time; all together make a huge difference in the brewing process.

Why are we buying espresso beans though? Can we use regular coffee beans to pull the perfect shot? The answer is yes and no. Yes, theoretically we can use any coffee beans to make an espresso, but a lot of the coffee sold for drip coffee machines is poor quality coffee, that should not be sold period. The big companies choose to sell this coffee because there is more profit, and the flavor and the aroma are lost anyway when brewing with a drip machine. The espresso drinker would not accept this type of coffee beans, for an espresso drinker the low quality of the beans would be apparent immediately. On the other hand, if you use espresso beans to brew your drip or Turkish coffee, you will be pleasantly surprised by the great flavors, aromas, and low acidity. If you buy good quality coffee, there should be no problems to use it in your espresso machine.

In Europe the roast range is a bit more diverse, with beans lightly roasted. There are some advantages with a light roast, such as longer shelf time, and very rich flavors that disappear with espresso roasts. The biggest disadvantage with lighter roasts is the fact that we can't use them for brewing espresso. On the other hand, if you are a coffee enthusiast, you will love to try a light roast with your drip machine, or just brew it "a la Turque", (I meant Turkish), or Greek, or Lebanese, it's all the same.

The best for espresso are the Brazilian beans, because of the processing method, and the low acidity. As a side note, Brazilian coffee is one of my favorites. Nevertheless, the Brazilian coffee is great in any brewing type.

The greatest thing about the "espresso beans", is that the roaster mixes different various coffees to create the end result, a blend that stands out by combining aroma, crema, and a balanced taste. So, it does pay to buy "espresso beans", although the name is a bit misleading, and is just a marketing term. Those beans can be used for any type of coffee.

Espresso vs. Turkish vs. Drip Coffee - Grind Size and Roast type

Espresso vs Turkish vs Drip Coffee

Espresso vs Turkish vs Drip Coffee

All the difference is in the preparation. Roast type doesn't bear too much importance, and it is important just as a personal preference, for instance Italians have different tastes of roasting their espresso beans, in North a lighter roast is widely preferred, whereas in South the darker roast is prevalent. As a side note, the lighter roast beans carry more of the coffee flavor, but result in a more acidic coffee.

Grind size is the most important, aside from the preparation method.

For Turkish coffee the grind is extra-fine, almost a powder.

For espresso, the needed grind is fine, but if it is too fine, the pump will struggle to push out the coffee through the portafilter.

For drip coffee machine, a medium grind is the best as it will keep your coffee clear and will result in a strong coffee.

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Preparation of Espresso, Turkish and Drip Coffee

Comparison of the Preparation of Espresso, Turkish and Drip Coffee

Espresso is prepared by pushing hot water with a high pressure through the ground coffee.

Turkish coffee is prepared by infusing, or slow boiling very fine ground coffee.

Drip coffee is obtained by infusing ground coffee and passing it through a paper filter to retain and filter the grinds.


Turkish Coffee

  • Pressure: No pressure
  • Temperature around 158 °F (70 degree Celsius)
  • Infusion/Brewing time: 30 seconds to 2 minutes
  • Grind Size: Powder
  • Obtained Quantity: Ranges from a quarter cup to one cup per teaspoon of coffee


  • Pressure: 9 bar of pressure
  • Temperature: 195 °F (90 °C)
  • Infusion/Brewing time: 25 -35 seconds
  • Grind Size: Fine
  • Obtained Quantity: 2 ounces of coffee (or more but then the taste changes)

Drip Coffee:

  • Pressure: No pressure
  • Temperature: Ideally 195-205 °F (around 90°C), but many drip machines fail to consistently deliver that temperature.
  • Infusion/Brewing time: 3 - 4 minutes per 8 cups
  • Grind Size: Medium grind size
  • Obtained Quantity: One cup per 2 tablespoons of coffee.

Other Types of Coffee

Other Coffee Brewing Types

There are a lot of coffee brewing techniques, some are more expensive, others not so expensive.

  • Stove top espresso - Moka Pot
  • Cold Brew Coffee
  • Percolator
  • Caphe - Vietnamese pot coffee
  • French Press coffee
  • Single Serve coffee machines
  • Cowboy coffee
  • Dripolator
  • Aeropress

More Coffee Brewing Resources

Brewing the right coffee is a breeze when you know what to do, what you like, and you have the right equipment.

Here are a few resources to help you in your quest to find the perfect brew.

  • Super Automatic Espresso Machine Reviews
    This is a comparison between the best super-automatic espresso machines for home use. The super automatic espresso machines are the easiest to use, at the same time allowing you to use your own beans, and they are versatile enough to allow you custom
  • How to Brew Espresso - Pulling the Perfect Shot
    A detailed "how to", with tips and tricks to help you pull perfect shots every time. (Well that is unrealistic isn't it?) A thorough explanation on how different aspects of brewing can affect your final cup.
  • How to make Turkish coffee - illy
    Popular in many countries, Turkish coffee is finely ground coffee prepared in a cezve, or ibrik, a pot typically made of copper and brass. This is a guide on Turkish coffee written by the coffee experts from Illy.

© 2013 Dorian Bodnariuc


RenatoA on March 14, 2017:

This article is a collection of false judgements and prejudices about coffee, driven by commercial beliefs about coffee, look else where if you want to read the truth about coffee taste.

SilverLotus1 on July 04, 2014:

I love all three types of coffee and will happily drink any one of them at any time!

mariacarbonara on July 16, 2013:

My personal favorite is espresso or an espresso based coffee. If I can't get to one of those then ill use a French press as they give a great flavor too

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