Can you make regular coffee with an espresso machine?

For most adults, having a hot cup of coffee in the morning is how the day starts. From percolators to drip brew coffee pots to Keurig coffee makers, it seems everyone has a favorite way to brew their morning cup of joe. 

What if you would like a standard cup of coffee, but all you have is an espresso machine on hand?

Can you make regular coffee with an espresso machine? The answer is: yes, but it isn’t same drink as coffee from a drip coffee maker. From an espresso machine you can get a drink that is similar to regular coffee by adding water to a brewed espresso. 

So, you can make regulare coffee with an espresso machine, sort of. Let’s break down the standard coffee, the espresso, and what you end up with when the two meet in the middle.

Can you make regular coffee with espresso?

Can You Make Regular Coffee With An Espresso Machine?

You won’t be able to make a true drip brewed cup of coffee with an espresso machine. 

However, it isn’t because you can make something that approaches drip coffee in taste and caffeine level. 

The difference between espresso and typical drip brew coffee is in the process of brewing and the grinding of the coffee bean. With espresso, you’re forcing hot water through very finely ground coffee grounds, which gives you a bolder, more highly caffeinated output. It’s the same amount of caffeine in half of the fluid amount. The traditional drip brew cup of coffee lets gravity do the job of allowing water to drip through the grounds.

Traditionally in Italy, espresso was made with mainly robusta beans, which is a darker, bolder flavored coffee bean than arabica beans. Today, it is commonly accepted that Robusta beans are of inferior quality, and are only used in cheap coffee. Arabica beans are far more flavorful, but also more expensive. For a good espresso – and therefore for a good espresso based regular coffee – use quality beans. In my book this always means freshly roasted Arabica coffee beans.

So, no, you can’t exactly make a traditional cup of coffee with an espresso maker, but not because it’s a different brew. It’s simply the ground texture and the speed and pressure of the process. But, if you’re in the mood for a full-sized, sipping size cup of coffee, there is a similar concoction for you to try.

What Is The Difference Between This And True Drip Brewed Coffee?

The pressure in the brewing process is the difference between the two. The bold and aromatic espresso is known for being stronger, thicker, and higher in caffeine than drip brew coffee. Espresso has a layer of “crema” on top, a result of air bubbles and the coffee bean’s soluble oils. The resulting flavor is a more roasted and full-bodied beverage that dissolves around 12% of the coffee. With a traditional, drip brew cup of coffee, the percentage of coffee dissolved is about 2%, which is why the big jolt you feel from espresso is so definitive. You get nearly the same amount of caffeine, 60 mg to 80 mg, as in a nearly double-sized cup of drip brew coffee.

What happens when you add water to espresso?

When you add water to an espresso what you get is (off course) a weakened version of an espresso. When you add as much water as there is espresso you get a Caffé AmericanoRegulars at the specialty coffee shop are more than likely familiar with the Americano. It is a barista’s favorite way to make regular coffee with an espresso machine.

Would you like to know more about the Caffé Americano and how to properly make it? Check out our full article on Americano Coffee

Besides the Americano, there is the crema coffee, which is pressure brewed, but with a greater amount of water going through the grounds. You use around 1.5 times the amount of water you use in a typical espresso. 

Another espresso-based drink is the cappuccino, which isn’t at all like a regular cup of joe, but still worth mentioning. It contains half espresso, half steamed milk, and usually, milk foam or cream added on top. 

All of these are enjoyed by coffee lovers everywhere regularly and are the most closely related to the drip brew coffee as you can get from an espresso machine.

These aren’t the only espresso-based coffee drinks that you can enjoy, though. There are many other coffee drinks that enjoy some level of popularity, although they are lesser-known. 

Another one of the most well-known cousins to the espresso is the latte. A latte is an espresso, with about the equal amount of steamed milk added, and then flavored syrup is blended in. There are many different flavor options when you’re making lattes, and many coffee shops market seasonal lattes in specialty flavors, like mint, pumpkin, and blueberry. Another popular take on the latte is the mocha latte, which is an espresso mixed with an equal part of steamed chocolate milk.

What Are Some Other Popular, Espresso-Based Drinks?

There is no shortage of amazing drinks that have espresso as their base. One of them is the macchiato, which is espresso that is marbled with frothed milk. Another is the Vienna, which is espresso plus equal parts whipped cream. The Cuban coffees that are so popular in Miami, and other Florida cities, such as the cafe con Leche and cafe Cubano, are also espresso-based coffee drinks. To make a cafe Cubano, you use a smaller cup, called a tacita, because the espresso is brewed into a much stronger version. You add two teaspoons of sugar to your taste, then pour your strong espresso on top of it slowly.

To make cafe con Leche, you prepare the cafe Cubano, and add an equal part hot milk to your blend. There are a great deal of other espresso-based drinks that you can enjoy in addition to the Cuban take on coffee. There is the cafe creme, which is espresso mixed with an equal part of heavy cream. The Irish have an interesting take on it, as well. To make an Irish coffee, put a shot of whiskey and a spoonful of sugar into your coffee mug. Slow pour your espresso in. Blend a shot of creme de menthe with equal parts heavy whipping cream, then spoon the mixture onto your coffee. It is a delicious take on the espresso as well.


There Are Dual-Use Machines, Though...

You don’t have to make the decision to drink either drip-brewed coffee or espresso anymore, though. There are dual brew machines, and many spins on the dual brew machines, that can allow you to make either of these at any time you choose. There are even “mini barista” coffee drink machines, which come with additional tools for frothing, blending, and brewing. Some of the machines will even grind the beans to your liking prior to brewing your espresso or your coffee drinks. 

The machines that feature both a drip brew coffee maker and an espresso maker can be a little expensive, and the mini baristas are on the higher end of the price scale. If you only have an espresso machine at your disposal, a good way to quickly and easily turn your espresso into an Americano is to fill a glass with ice, then slowly pour your freshly brewed espresso over the ice. The ice will melt as you pour over it, and the end result is your Americano, ready to drink. 

Regular coffee alternatives made with espresso

A brief recap of some of the espresso drinks that you can make easily are listed below for you to try at home:

Cappuccino

A cappuccino is half espresso, half steamed milk blended, then milk foam or heavy cream is added at the end prior to drinking. 

Latte

A latte is an espresso with equal parts of steamed milk, then a flavored syrup is blended into the mix. There are many different flavor options when you’re making lattes, and many coffee shops market seasonal lattes in specialty flavors, like mint, pumpkin, and blueberry. Another popular take on the latte is the mocha latte, which is an espresso mixed with an equal part of steamed chocolate milk.

Macchiato

A macchiato is an espresso that is marbled with frothed milk. 

Crema Coffee

A crema coffee is a pressure brewed espresso, but one and a half times the water is used to make it more of a drip-brewed coffee consistency. 

Vienna

A Vienna is an espresso with equal parts heavy whipped cream added. 

Cuban Coffee

A Cuban coffee is served in a much smaller cup, a tacita. Put 2 teaspoons of sugar into the tacita, then slowly pour in the espresso. 

Cafe Con Leche

A cafe con Leche is a Cuban coffee with hot milk added, usually in an equal amount to the espresso. 

So, while you can’t expect to get a standard, drip brew cup of coffee from an espresso machine, you can get something that is pretty close. You may even find that you enjoy one of the espresso-based drinks that we’ve listed here even more than you were enjoying your drip brew morning cup of joe. 


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