Caffeine consumption: The difference between cold brew, espresso, and coffee

coffee vs espresso cold brew 5cde60f6
Glen Carrie/Unsplash
Making coffee is pretty simple — all you really need are beans and water. Yet, we have dozens of different methods for creating different variations. While drip coffee, espresso, and cold brew are all made with essentially the same ingredients, they are very different beverages. So what should you order when you walk into your coffee shop? Are you looking for something bitter or sweet? Do you want a jolt of caffeine, or do you want to sit and relax? Let’s take a look at how the three differ in taste and caffeine content, along with the brewing process behind each.

Coffee

drip-coffee-image

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. While the term “coffee” encapsulates just about everything prepared from roasted coffee beans — including espresso and cold brew — this term is most often used in reference to drip coffee. While you may be unfamiliar with the term “drip coffee,” you’ve probably had it before. This is the type of coffee that you probably get from your kitchen counter in the morning. Hot water is poured over ground coffee beans, then seeps through a filter and into your coffee pot. You can drink it black (without any added ingredients), or enjoy it with milk or sugar.

Drip coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume caffeine for a number of reasons. Drip-coffee machines are relatively cheap, they’re easy to operate, and they can brew a cup of coffee in just a few minutes. Unlike espresso, it’s also very easy to make a large pot of drip coffee, meaning you can serve multiple people at once with minimal effort.

The amount of caffeine in your drip coffee will differ depending on a variety of factors — including the roast and the ratio of water to coffee grounds you use — but on average, you’ll get about 110 milligrams of caffeine in a 6-ounce cup of coffee.

Espresso

coffee-206142_1280

Espresso is also made from ground coffee beans and hot water, but the process is a little more complicated than with drip coffee.

Espresso is made from finely ground coffee beans that are compacted into a small, puck-shaped brick of beans. Hot water is then forced through this brick using high pressure, resulting in a slightly thicker, more bitter, smaller cup of caffeinated goodness. Unlike drip coffee, where some of the main factors playing into taste are the amount of water and beans, espresso can be fine-tuned to suit your tastes. The fineness of the grind, the length of the pull, and the size of the drink all play a part in the beverage’s taste. In general, though, an espresso will be more bitter than a cup of coffee and often less than half its size.

That doesn’t mean that espresso skimps on the caffeine, however. In fact, espresso is basically a concentrated cup of coffee. Espresso contains about 50 milligrams of caffeine per ounce. While this is considerably less than an entire cup of drip coffee, espresso packs way more caffeine per ounce. In other words, you only need to drink about 2 ounces of espresso to get the same amount of caffeine that comes in a standard cup of coffee.

While many people enjoy espresso on its own, it’s also the most versatile form of coffee and is used in everything from lattes to cappuccinos to macchiatos.

Cold brew

photo-1471691118458-a88597b4c1f5

There are a few different ways to make iced coffee. While a pour-over is the easiest method (you simply brew hot coffee and then pour it over ice), you either have to brew extra strong coffee or use ice cubes made of coffee in order to avoid a watered-down beverage. The preferred method of making iced coffee is by doing a cold brew. The problem here, however, is that it is by far the most time-consuming way to make coffee.

Like other types of coffee, cold brew is made with ground beans and water. The process is simple, but it’s slow. You steep ground coffee beans in water for about 12 hours — some recipes call for as much as 24 hours — and then strain the mixture into a container. This method results in a very different beverage than a standard cup of coffee. The longer extraction time should result in a smoother, less acidic beverage. And since caffeine is more soluble in hot water, people tend to use extra beans when making cold brew coffee. This results in a slightly thicker, more concentrated liquid, which is often diluted with milk or water.

Health & Fitness

In search of the fountain of youth, beauty companies turn to tech

Beauty tech is a fairly new concept, but at CES 2019, companies such as Olay, L’Oreal, and Neutrogena were fully embracing it with all kinds of gadgets that promise to give you glowing skin.
Smart Home

Thinking of buying an Instant Pot? Here's what you need to know

The Instant Pot is a powerful kitchen appliance that does everything from pressure cook to to slow cook to steam. Heck, you can even make yogurt in it. Here's all you need to know about the magic device.
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Home Theater

QLED and OLED may have similar names, but they're totally different technologies

The names may look almost identical, but OLED and QLED are two entirely different beasts. In our QLED vs. OLED battle, we dissect the differences between these dueling TV technologies, and help determine which might be best for you.
Smart Home

PicoBrew launches professional-grade brewing appliances, new distiller at CES

PicoBrew has been a leader in the home brewing industry for years, but at CES 2019 the company went pro with the Z Series, a new line of professional-grade brewing appliances aimed at craft breweries and restaurants.
Smart Home

Want a smarter home? Ditch the keys with these great smart locks

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Smart Home

Busted: Facebook Portal gets 5-star reviews from company employees

It's fair to say that Facebook's Portal smart display received a tepid response at launch, so it was something of a surprise to see lots of glowing reviews of the device on Amazon. Turns out some were written by Facebook workers.
Smart Home

The best sous vide machines cook your food perfectly, every single time

Want to make four-star meals from the comforts of your own kitchen? Here are the best sous vide machines available right now, whether you prefer simple immersion circulators or something more complex.
Smart Home

Idaho mother says her child’s light-up sippy cup exploded

After a mother filled a Nuby insulated light-up cup with milk, the cup allegedly exploded. The incident caused burns to the mother's hand and face and a stinging sensation in her lungs that required a trip to the hospital.
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.
Smart Home

DS3 Clean water-free swatches could be the future of cleaning products

DS3 Clean swatches were on display at CES 2019. The small swatches come in several types, including shampoo and toilet cleaner. They're great for travel, but their real impact is in how such supplies will be shipped and stored.
Smart Home

Amazon patents a technology to help Alexa fight fake voice attacks

Amazon filed a patent this month for a new technology that looks like it would help its digital assistant Alexa fight fake voice attacks that could potentially fool Alexa's biometric security protocols.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.
Smart Home

The Instant Pot Lux is a gateway drug into the pleasures of pressure cooking

The 3-quart Instant Pot Lux is one of the most affordable Instant Pots you can buy. Is it still a solid pressure cooker? Here are our thoughts on the Instant Pot Lux, a great IP baseline model.