Drip Coffee Maker vs Espresso Machine: Which Should You Choose?

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drip coffee vs espresso

Do you want a cup of coffee or espresso? The answer to this question will determine which method is best for you to use. Drip coffee makers are going to brew a bulk batch of coffee for you and potentially others to enjoy. An espresso machine is going to produce one serving of 2-3 oz coffee concentrate at a time. Espresso has a much more intense flavor than coffee. Beyond this large difference, there are some feature differences that may be important to you.

Drip Coffee Maker Basics

Drip coffee makers are a popular choice among at-home coffee brewers. They are easy to use and there are is a large variety to choose from. They can range from one with a few simple features to ones that can brew multiple amounts and types of coffee. No matter which one you have, they all work similarly.
The drip coffee maker works by filling the water reservoir to the proportion you need, then the coffee grounds also need to be put into the coffee filter. After all grounds and water are in, you press a button and the machine slowly drips water through the grounds and down into your coffee pot. This takes about 5-10 minutes depending on the amount of coffee being brewed, and the model of drip coffee maker you’re using.

A drip coffee maker up close

Image credit: MaxPixel


Drip coffee makers are a quick and simple way of getting your coffee in the morning. They are easy to use. After putting the grounds and water in you just push a button and walk away, the machine does the work for you.


Drip coffee makers use coffee filters which can soak up the natural oils in coffee that give it an authentic taste. Some will prefer this as opposed to having the oils, however for a true taste of your blend you want the natural oils.

Espresso Machine Basics

There are two types of espresso machines; automatic and semi-automatic. Both have a different level of hands-on application. They both require basic maintenance and cleaning procedures that have to be done to ensure the long life and consistent results you expect from buying an espresso machine. Below we will look at the differences between the two types of espresso machines.
Automatics are easy to use. You are only required to measure the coffee grounds and water and put them in their correct reservoirs, along with tamping (packing) the grounds. You press a button that handles everything else. There is an internal timer that stops the extraction and 25-30 seconds you have quality espresso waiting for you.
A semi-automatic espresso machine would be an even more authentic and hands-on option for someone looking for a challenge. They do less of the work for you than the above mentioned automatic espresso machine. This one allows you to learn more about the craft of espresso making. You have to take the same steps as the automatic version, however, you are in charge of when the espresso stops extracting. This is the big difference between a semi-automatic and an automatic model.

espresso machine

Image credit: Quiet Hut, Flickr


If you want to craft espresso, the benefit of a semi-automatic is that you have complete control over the timing of extraction from start to finish. This gives you better control over the flavor of your espresso. If you want an authentic espresso brewing experience, but not have to worry about screwing up the flavor in seconds, an automatic espresso machine will benefit you the most since it has the internal extraction timer.


Investing in a semi-automatic espresso machine requires patience and the willingness to learn. Automatics are easier to use, but still require more attention than a drip coffee maker would. Espresso machines also tend to be more expensive than a drip coffee maker. Espresso machines require frequent calibrations, cleanings, and sometimes replacement of parts. This means it is a more time-consuming device to own, but still well worth it.

Which is Right for Your Needs?

The one that is right for you mainly depends on if you want coffee or espresso. If you like both and are deciding which is best to spend your money on there is a pros-and-cons list below to guide you.

Drip Coffee Makers – Pros & Cons:

  • Bulk batch
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to clean
  • Cheaper
  • Uses filters

Espresso Machines – Pros & Cons:

  • Authentic experience
  • Can learn new skill
  • Great quality
  • Fast
  • Expensive
  • More maintenance