Allure of Espresso vs. Drip

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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#1: Post by Auctor »

On first blush, it seems like more people here at HB are chasing the perfect espresso shot more than they are chasing the perfect brewed coffee. Why do you think more people are focused on espresso? Are people chasing different flavors, or textures? Is espresso more flexible than drip (straight, caps, lattes, flat whites, macchiatos, con panna, vs.... Cream and sugar?) Is there a style factor to sipping an espresso with your pinkie raised vs the more ubiquitous cup of joe? Are espresso aficionados more picky about their bean selections than drip coffee drinkers?

Just spitballing... what do you think?

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#2: Post by Brewzologist »

I like both and chase perfection in both beverages. I only recently got into espresso though. To me, they are both great ways to enjoy coffee, just different. I like the intensity and body of espresso, and also enjoy the clarity and aroma of pour-overs. Both have nice flavors that are enjoyable to bring out. I'm not into milk drinks much, so these comments apply mostly to black beverages with no sugar. There's my 2 cents! 8)

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#3: Post by JB90068 »

I've done a lot of both. Guess I prefer the richness and mouthfeel of espresso more. I only use my pinky when I drink tea and do impressions of John Cleese. :D
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#4: Post by Jeff »

I'm guessing, and purely guessing, that it may be related to my perception that it's much easier to pull undrinkable shot after shot with hundreds or thousands invested than it is to end up with an undrinkable pour-over or immersion brew with even shop-ground coffee and $10 in gear.


#5: Post by Intrepid510 »

Machine big shiny, lots power. Me Like. :D


#6: Post by tennisman03110 »

As Jeff is alluding, pour over or drip is relatively easy. Not so for espresso, it's much harder.

I come to this site for recommendations on coffee beans, gear, technique, etc. almost exclusively related to espresso. I've spent thousands of dollars on equipment. Sometimes my shots still come out not So great.

But 5 days a week, I do pour over with a much cheaper setup, and never think twice about it. I wouldn't be on this forum if I only did V60. And if I had to pick only one for the rest of my life, pour over or drip all the way.


#7: Post by ojt »

I have to say I disagree on espresso being harder. I've always found pour over harder to do well than espresso. I always got good espresso, never undrinkable, most often great, whereas pour over has been more of an adventure. Now after two years I have it dialed in quite well. Maybe the la Pavoni is easy and Origami hard?

It could be most just enjoy the body and texture of espresso, and the fact that it's easy (imho) to get intense flavors out of it, and thus enjoy those expensive specialty beans. Also espresso must be still more exotic in the US where the drip is the standard. Here in Italy it's the exact contrary and in fact I think most specialty coffee freaks here advocate pour over more. Espresso is always on the menu as that's the standard drink here. But again, often the body and texture of espresso seems to win.

I find myself drinking much more pour over. I guess I like having a longer drink to sip and have that "fika" / "hygge" moment if you know what I mean.

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#8: Post by jpender »

I agree that pour overs aren't necessarily easier. The same amount of witchcraft is employed as with espresso. How many different cones are marketed? How many different methods of pouring and stirring are there?

I personally just prefer the body and mouthfeel of metal filtered coffees. And I like a stronger cup, something around 2%, which is about what my Americanos are. I suppose you can do a pour over or drip with a metal filter and a lower water/coffee ratio but that's not typical. And I think it wouldn't be the same beverage without the emulsification that happens with espresso.

I used to have a kind of coffee penis envy since I didn't have an espresso machine for so many years. Even now that I do have one I think, well it's just a Robot, it doesn't make any noise or emit steam. It's silly, I know, especially since I actually prefer the simplicity. And anyway, it's really almost entirely about the result.

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#9: Post by ira »

The equipment around espresso has gotten so good that almost anyone willing to learn how to use it can pull really good espresso. Assuming you get a decent grinder and an espresso machine that has a chance, not like 12 years ago when it was a struggle. Both the terms god shot and sink shot have mostly fallen out of use. God shot because I assume the average shot much more approaches what's possible and grinders have improved so much sink shots don't hardly happen any more. Pour over still requires perfection every time over things that are somewhere between difficult and impossible to perfectly repeat. Use a Clever, French Press or some other device that allows easy consistency and drip or whatever you want to call it becomes much more predictable. When someone finally comes out with a proper automated temperature, time and pattern controlled pour over device, the average pour over will likely reach the current consistency of espresso. IMHO of course.



#10: Post by Jonk »

ojt wrote:It could be most just enjoy the body and texture of espresso, and the fact that it's easy (imho) to get intense flavors out of it, and thus enjoy those expensive specialty beans.
This. It's not uncommon that I encounter a Nordic roast that I'm not able to get much or very good flavor with when brewing pour overs, but is fantastic as a kind of miniature 1:3 espresso concentrated pour over. Those are pretty easy to make, as long as the grinder is good enough.

But on average I believe both espresso and drip is about equally challenging when you strive for perfection. When I have been to award winning cafés in my city it's not uncommon the get espresso that tastes like vinegar and pour over that is astringent. Perhaps nearly there, but over the border of what is enjoyable to me at least. Those cafés get away with it because the big majority is ordering latte/cappuccino and pastries.