Coffee vs. Espresso

A reader emailed in last evening to suggest that I change my recipes to reflect the fact that instant coffee and espresso powder aren’t really equivalents. Espresso is more concentrated than coffee, so more instant coffee is needed to make up for the difference in strength.

There’s a certain logic in this. An espresso drink is stronger in flavor than a typical cup of coffee, but that’s because it contains more coffee solids packed into a smaller volume of water. A shot of espresso is usually two ounces versus a cup of coffee which is eight, but the amount of coffee solids they contain is roughly the same. Thus spoonful-for-spoonful instant coffee and espresso powder deliver about the same amount of flavor. Espresso is really a method, not a thing.

This is not to say that there aren’t differences in those flavors. Espresso and coffee are generally made from different types of beans (arabica and robusto, respectively) which have different flavor profiles. Espresso powder is truer to the French tradition than coffee, but I’ll be using coffee since there isn’t a spoonful of instant espresso powder to be had in this town right now. Not that there’s any great demand for it in Kentucky as a rule, but some can usually be dug up at a specialty shop. Thank God there’s Folgers around when you need it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *