This article explains three differences between filter and espresso coffee. This is the seventh of eight foundation posts on specialty coffee by Bean Market. Sign up to the newsletter for more on coffee, its origins and stories.
- Roast profile
- Coffee to water ratio; brew method
- Caffeine level
1. Roast profile
Simply put, filter coffee is a lighter roast than espresso coffee.
The colour of the roasted coffee is not as dark as it spends less time in the roaster and isn’t taken to as high a temperature (Molloy)
The light roast highlights different characteristics of the coffee. With a light roast, there is more fruit, less body and brighter acidity (think of the feeling of having a sour green apple) rather than a caramelised sweetness. As Molloy notes, the goal with filter roast is to keep the flavours sharp, bright and clear. As you roast longer, sugars develop and caramelise so the coffee becomes sweeter and develops more body. Again, if the roast is taken too far that’s when dark, ashy and toasty flavours arise.
An example of how the roast profile highlights different characteristics is with Rumble’s Santa Isabel, from Guatemala’s Alta Verapaz region. In the filter roast Rumble aims to bring out the sweet plum, orange and red apple; while roasts deeper into espresso territory brings out more of the chocolate, toffee and maple syrup notes.
2. Coffee to water ratio & brew method
There is a smaller ratio of coffee to water in a filter style coffee (e.g. 10gm to 100ml/ 150ml of water) compared to espresso coffee (20gm to 50/60ml of water). This makes filter coffee more ‘watered down’ and easier to drink for the consumer. Taste profiles are also usually cleaner in filter compared to espresso. (Suhaimie Sukiman)
Espresso coffee is usually put through an espresso machine, while filter uses different brew methods such as Aeropress, pour-over and french press.
3. Caffeine level
On average, there is double the amount of caffeine in filter coffee compared to an espresso based latte (depending on establishment). As Sukiman notes, “the amount of caffeine in your cup depends on the amount of contact time the grounds have with water, so although not usually detected between sips. Those with a lower tolerance to caffeine in their body will feel ore discomfort after having a cup of filter coffee, than that of a latte in the same cup volume.” See also here.
This post was not financially supported in any way.