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

drip coffee vs espresso

Do you want a cup of coffee or a shot of espresso? The answer to this question will determine which method is best for you to use. Drip coffee makers are simple, inexpensive brewers that will produce large batches of regular coffee. Espresso machines, on the other hand, are pricey and often more complicated machines that produce two to three ounces of concentrated espresso.

Before you make your decision, let’s take a closer look at these popular coffee machines.

RELATED READ: Moka Pot vs Espresso Machine: Which should you choose?

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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. These machines may offer a few simple features or almost endless customization. No matter which type you have, they all share the same basic design.

To brew coffee using a drip machine, add water to the reservoir and fill a coffee filter with grounds. Press the start button, and the machine will heat the water and slowly drip it through the grounds and 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.

Mr. Coffee 12-cup drip machine

Benefits

Drip coffee makers are a quick and simple way of getting your coffee in the morning. After adding the grounds and water, you just push a button and walk away. The machine does the work for you. Some drip coffee makers are even programmable, so you can set them to have your coffee ready by the time you get up.

Drawbacks

Drip coffee makers use coffee filters, which soak up the natural oils in coffee. Some prefer this for the clarity of flavor and potential health benefits, though for a full, rich flavor, you may want the natural oils. Because they’re disposable, paper filters are also less environmentally-friendly.

Pros
  • Bulk batch
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to clean
  • Cheaper
Cons
  • Uses filters
  • Can’t produce espresso

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Espresso Machine Basics

There are two types of espresso machines: automatic and semi-automatic. The difference lies in how hands-on these machines are. They both require basic maintenance and cleaning procedures 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 in 25-30 seconds, you have quality espresso waiting for you.

Semi-automatic espresso machines are an even more authentic and hands-on option for someone looking for a challenge. They do less of the work for you and allow you to learn more about the craft of espresso making. You have to take the same steps as the automatic version, but you control the length of the shot. This is the big difference between a semi-automatic and an automatic model.

espresso machine

Benefits

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.

Drawbacks

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 it’s worth it if you love espresso.

Pros
  • Authentic experience
  • Can learn new skill
  • Great quality
  • Fast
Cons
  • Expensive
  • More maintenance
  • Doesn’t produce regular coffee

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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 brewing for a crowd, have a tight budget, or want a machine that’s easy to use and clean, you’ll probably want a drip coffee maker. But if you’re willing to put in the time — not to mention the money — a high-quality espresso machine will produce tasty, authentic shots of espresso. If you really can’t decide, learn how to make espresso in your drip coffee maker!

Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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