Is Filter Coffee Stronger Than Espresso ? On Caffeine Levels And Taste

If you’ve ever had coffee, then you know there’s 2 main ways of drinking it. Either it’s a shot of espresso, or it’s filter coffee.

But is filter coffee stronger than espresso ?

You might think it isn’t, but science has figured out the real winner. Let’s see which one it is.

Filter Coffee Stronger

So is filter coffee stronger than espresso ?

Yes, filter coffee is stronger than espresso.

Filter coffee has an average of 150-210 mg of caffeine per 8 fl oz/236 ml of brew.

A shot of espresso of 1 oz/33 ml contains about 63 mg of caffeine. 

The difference is due to the longer time water spends in contact with the ground coffee in a drip-filter, or even a pour-over system. 

Espresso is famous for being strong and quick, but that speed robs it of ever fully extracting all the caffeine from those 7 gr of ground coffee.

So the filter is the clear winner here. There is another, more delicate coffee that beats even filter. But more on that later.

First, let’s see why filter coffee is stronger than espresso in the first place.

Filter coffee contains more caffeine than a shot of espresso

When you look at a filter machine, you couldn’t possibly expect great coffee from it. After all, most of them look a little simple.

But they do pack quite a punch.

Their beauty lies in the fact that the water, when coming down from the drip/shower, stays in contact with the ground coffee for several minutes.

This means you coffee will have flavor, nutrients, and caffeine extracted about as much as possible.

On average, a pot of coffee takes 3 minutes to brew. More or less, depending on how little or how much water you added to the filter.

This means that the coffee gets extracted for those 3 minutes, and you get a good caffeine kick.

But why is it such a large range when looking at the caffeine content of filter coffee ?

Because there is almost always a blend of Robusta and Arabica used when brewing coffee, which means there won’t ever be 2 cups of coffee that have the same caffeine.

On average, Robusta contains much more caffeine than Arabica. It’s actually nearly double, reaching 2.7% while Arabica has 1.5% caffeine content.

It’s also more bitter than Arabica, though both have their uses and go well together.

And blending the two together in different ratios means you’re going to get lighter or stronger coffee, depending on how much Robusta you’ve added.

Now, this all happens within a 8 fl oz/236 ml cup of brewed coffee.

Barely anyone uses a smaller cup of coffee, so this has become the standard measurement. A shot of espresso is much smaller, exactly 1 oz/33 ml of brew.

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Filter Coffee

Why you’d think espresso is stronger

But why do people this espresso is stronger ?

It’s mostly got to do with the taste and bitterness of a shot of espresso, in general.

So if you were to taste a shot of espresso, done 2 seconds ago, and a cup of black coffee, then you’d assume espresso is stronger.

It’s got a much more bitter, strong taste than filter coffee.

This is due to the brewing method, and also the concentration of an espresso.

A shot of espresso (1 oz/33 ml) uses 7 gr of ground coffee. By comparison, 8 oz of filter coffee use about 15 grams of ground coffee.

So going by concentration, you’ll find that espresso tastes much stronger than filter coffee.

It also contains the coffee oils that filter coffee does not.

This is because filter coffee uses either a permanent filter, or paper filters, which both trap the coffee oils before they ever reach your pot of coffee.

Another thing the filter manages to trap is the fine dust that comes with ground coffee, and seeps into a shot of espresso, but not filter coffee.

This means that a shot of espresso will have more body to it, a stronger state, and seem more ‘whole’, compared to a cup of filter coffee.

Finally, let’s discuss the fact that espresso comes in a very small cup. It’s a 1 oz/33 ml serving, which is actually small but strong when you think that’s where the approx. 63 mg of caffeine come from.

But few people enjoy a shot of pure espresso, black, with absolutely nothing added to it.

Most people would ask for one of the 12 main coffee drinks, which are all espresso based. And this would raise the total serving size to even 12 oz/354 ml in some cases, like a latte or frappuccino.

This is still using just one espresso shot, unless otherwise asked for. Which keeps the total caffeine count at the value of just one shot of espresso.

French press coffee is stronger than filter coffee, and espresso

There is another, stronger but more delicate coffee. I feel I have to mention it, if you’re on a quest to look for the strongest possible coffee, by brewing method.

French press coffee is one of the best ways to brew coffee, if not the best.

It’s basically coffee steeped in hot water, and filtered through a metal filter to keep the gunk at the bottom of the beaker.

This means you get the best of both worlds, as a combination between filter coffee and espresso.

You get the small amount of coffee dust, and the coffee oils from the ground coffee that you’d normally get from an espresso. There’s no crema though.

You also get a much longer steeping time than an espresso.

Steeping coffee in a French press is usually done for 4 minutes. Anything over those 4 minutes and you risk overextracting your coffee, and ruining the flavors.

So this puts French press at the very peak of quality, flavorful, and strong coffee.

It’s not as comfortable to use as a filter machine, or a pour over system since it needs more cleaning and care. But the rewards are worth it.

If you can’t find a French press, then filter machines or a pour over system will do the job very well.

Final thoughts

Filter coffee is kind of like the underdog of the coffee world.

You never expect it to win, but it somehow makes it through.

I’ve had filtered coffee and espresso along the years, and I’ve figured that espresso is just too.. sour ? Acidic ? Somehow unpleasant, for me at least.

How much caffeine each brewing method can offer is a big deal when you’re looking to find the one that’ll get you up and running in the morning. So I recommend you stick with filter coffee, from pretty much every point of view.

If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?