How to make american coffee, espresso quality and consistency, all there is to know on WORLD’s most beloved beverage.

Two variations on the same beverage that create quite a discussion: what’s better, American coffee or espresso? Together we will get to know better these two  types of coffee and we’ll find out their differences and their main characteristics.

Let’s begin! 

Coffee production, the stunning figures of a magical plant

Coffee is an unparalleled presence in our everyday life, it helps us go through difficult days and improves the better ones, it keeps us awake during exam sessions, it’s our personal moment of relax and our very personal pause from everyday activity. There’s nothing like coffee. Figures show that, as of today, there are almost 25 million companies worldwide involved in the production of coffee, 80 countries that cultivate at full capacity almost 15 billion coffee plants that amount for a grand total of 2 billion cups of coffee served and consumed every day all around the world. These astounding numbers confirm just how much coffee is spreading all around the world and show the high number of people consuming it, as part of one of the most profitable and indestructible business of all time.

Difference between american coffee and espresso: history, preparation, equipment and caffeine content

One is long and served in a big cup, the other is short and served in a small cup but they both are defined as coffee: the first is obviously a filtered coffee (aka American Coffee), the other, is “caffè espresso” (or espresso for short). Let’s find out what is the difference between them.

American or espresso coffee: some definitions

Filtered or Brewed coffee (the way it’s called in England) is a moderately intense coffee blend, with a broad aroma bouquet, and is made by filtering water at 90°C through a pre-set quantity of ground coffee. To obtain a good result, it’s important to respect some parameters on temperature, grinding, toasting, water and extraction time. To define what espresso coffee is, however, we will use a precise definition made by one of the pioneers of coffee research In Italy: Ernesto Illy. Coffee is a “polyphasic beverage prepared from roasted and ground coffee, water and energy, constituted by a foam layer made by small bubbles on top of an emulsion of microscopic oil droplets in an aqueous solution of sugars, acids, protein-like materials, and caffeine.” We can define espresso, trying to make it a bit simpler, as a concentrated beverage, served in a small cup, prepared on request through the extraction of toasted and ground coffee thanks to water filtered at a specific temperature.

From these two definition we just gave, we can already see a difference in intensity of the beverage and from the presence, in espresso, of the classic coffee foam we all love, which is absent in filtered or American coffee.

Breakfast at 12oz


The origin of american and espresso coffee

American and Espresso coffee, even at their origins, have started their long history in different times and in different places.

The origins of American coffee as we know it, is a quite funny one.

During World War Two, in Italy, American soldiers were struggling in drinking our stronger and fuller espresso coffee. The soldiers used to drink their cup of coffee at the end of the day and then, one day, they thought about adding water in an espresso to make it more similar to what they were used to drink.

Regarding espresso, its origins are to be found in Turin, around the end of the XIXth century with the invention of a device made by Angelo Moriondo, one of the pioneers in the invention of coffee machines, in 1884. In 1902 the espresso coffee machine was patented and started being sold and Desiderio Pavoni, patron of Pavoni SPA, built the first espresso machine made in chrome-plated brass, vertically developed, and called it “Ideale”. However, it will be thanks to the barman Achille Gaggia (does this name ring a bell?) that the already known machine will have a new piston mechanism implemented. This mechanism pushes high temperature water through ground coffee, creating the first pressure espresso machine in history.

How do you make american coffee? and what about espresso?

For the preparation of American coffee or espresso, we have to talk about parameters and quantities, that’s why it is important to clarify the meaning of percolation. Percolation is that process that happens any time a liquid passes through a porous medium and thus, if we think about coffee, it’s the process in which water at high temperature passes through ground coffee and creates the beverage we all know and love.

American Coffee preparation

  • Water Temperature at 93-94°C
  • 6-8 minutes percolation
  • Ground Coffee quantity: 50-70gr per liter

Espresso coffee preparation

  • Water termperature 90 ± 5°C
  • 30 ± 5 seconds percolation
  • Ground Coffee  quantity 6,5 ± 1,5gr
  • Water Pressure 9 ± 2 atm

American or espresso: how much caffeine do they have?

The common belief that filtered or American coffee contains a lower caffeine quantity compared to espresso is completely wrong and here is why. The amount of caffeine is calculated in Ounces (1 ounce= 30ml, just a little bit more than an espresso). Filtered coffee contains from 8 to 15mg of caffeine per ounce, while espresso contains 30 to 50mg per ounce. From these figures it’s easy to say that espresso has more caffeine when compared to filtered coffee, but if we think that the quantity of served espresso coffee is an ounce while filtered coffee is around 8 ounces per serving, then the caffeine amount inside a classic cup of filtered or American coffee rises up to 65-120mg! Do you understand now why our 12oz can give you energy and gives you the right charge for your day? Whatever your preference, be it American or espresso coffee, at 12oz you can taste them both, hot or cold and each in its own dedicated cup.

What are you waiting for?