What Is the Difference Between Brewed and Drip Coffee?

Different coffee brewing methods can change the taste of your coffee in many ways, which is why it’s a good idea to have knowledge of the strengths of each brewing method and how they differ from each other.

Brewed coffee and drip coffee are terms that we hear a lot, and the names themselves don’t reveal a lot as to how these brewing methods are different from each other. So, what is the difference between brewed and drip coffee?

Brewed coffee is an umbrella term that includes a lot of different brewing methods such as pour-over, French press, drip coffee, and more. On the other hand, drip coffee is a specific coffee brewing method where water is dripped through a coffee filter that contains coffee grounds, creating coffee, which then drips out of the filter into a container.

Brewed Coffee

Since all coffee is brewed by mixing hot water and coffee grounds in some way, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that all kinds of coffee are brewed coffee. Even though this is technically true, there is a reason that the term brewed coffee is used instead of just coffee in some cases.

While all coffee is indeed brewed, the term brewed coffee usually excludes espresso. The reasoning for this is that espresso is very different from other brewing methods. Even though all brewing methods have unique qualities that separate them from each other, the difference is especially glaring in the case of espresso.

Brewed Coffee vs. Espresso

To understand why espresso isn’t included when the term brewed coffee is used, let’s delve into the factors that differentiate espresso from every other coffee brewing method.

The first thing to consider is the amount of pressure used for brewing. Espresso can only be brewed with an espresso machine due to the large amount of pressure required, whereas other coffee methods barely require any. The pressure allows coffee grounds to be extracted without having to use too much water or time, creating a very concentrated brew.

The next difference is serving size. While a shot of espresso is only 1 oz, a regular cup of coffee is roughly 8 oz.

Since coffee is extracted with water that is highly pressurized in the case of espresso, it’s possible to achieve a very high coffee to water ratio without under-extracting the grounds. On the other hand, other coffee brewing methods require more water (and time) to be able to reach the same extraction level.

The high coffee to water ratio means that a shot of espresso is richer than a regular cup of coffee. The characteristics which we associate with strong coffee, such as bitterness and a high caffeine yield, can easily be found in a shot of espresso.

As a shot of espresso is very concentrated, some people prefer to enjoy their espresso in the form of espresso-based drinks. These drinks are created by adding ingredients such as water or milk to a shot of espresso, which balances the flavor and reduces the strength of the coffee.

Drip Coffee

Drip coffee is a very accessible brewing method, mostly due to its ease of use. Since automatic coffee machines are used to brew drip coffee, there is no manual work involved other than placing coffee grounds in the filter basket and filling the water tank.

The inner workings of a drip coffee machine are also simple. A drip coffee machine causes hot water to drip through the coffee grounds by utilizing the steam that is produced by boiling water. As the water slowly drips through the grounds, the coffee filter blocks the passage of sediment while allowing the coffee to drip into the carafe. After the brewing process is completed, the coffee is kept warm with the help of a hot plate that rests underneath the carafe. All of these things happen with a click of a button.

Daily cleaning of a drip coffee machine is quite straightforward as all you have to do is to clean the carafe and throw the used coffee grounds. All things considered, it’s a very convenient way to brew a pot of coffee. 

Unfortunately, drip coffee also has some disadvantages of its own. There isn’t a lot of room for customization when it comes to brewing drip coffee, meaning that you will have to do with what you’re given by the coffee machine. While higher quality machines allow you to control parameters such as water temperature, drip coffee isn’t known for its capability for optimization in general, not allowing you to get the best possible flavor profile out of your beans.

The next problem is related to the freshness of the coffee. Even though the coffee stays warm, it’s doesn’t exactly stay fresh. While brewing a whole pot that will last you an entire day sounds extremely convenient, you’ll find that coffee that has been sitting in the carafe doesn’t exactly taste like the first cup of the day. For this reason, we recommend only brewing as much coffee as you intend to drink at that moment. While this takes away from the convenience of drip coffee, it makes for a better coffee experience.

While drip coffee is considered to be one of the worse methods in terms of coffee quality, it’s great for public places (such as an office) where large amounts of coffee are required. As most people are simply looking to get their caffeine fix in the morning, there isn’t a lot of demand for high-quality coffee in these places, making drip coffee the perfect solution.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is drip coffee regular coffee?

Drip coffee is perhaps the most “regular” coffee there is. Since it’s quite convenient to brew drip coffee and keep it warm, it’s possible to find drip coffee almost anywhere.

For this reason, drip coffee machines are most likely the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about coffee.

Is drip coffee better than instant?

We believe that any form of brewed coffee is better than instant coffee when brewed right.

Instant coffee can’t compete with properly brewed coffee due to plenty of different factors, which is why we recommend moving away from instant coffee if you are a regular coffee drinker.

Is drip coffee stronger than espresso?

When it comes to strength, espresso is unrivaled. 

Since the ratio of coffee to water is a lot higher in espresso compared to drip coffee (and every other brewing method), it makes sense that espresso is much stronger.

How is pour-over coffee different than drip coffee?

Pour-over coffee and drip coffee are very similar in principle, and it’s even possible to hear pour-over coffee being called manual drip coffee. The similarity comes from the fact that both of these methods essentially brew the coffee in the same way where hot water is poured over coffee grounds, which then drips out of the coffee filter into a carafe.

For the most part, we use the term drip coffee for coffee that is brewed in an automatic drip coffee maker, whereas pour-over coffee is used for manual brewing methods that utilize coffee makers such as Chemex or V60.

Conclusion

Understanding how different coffee brewing methods function can be a real game-changer to brew a perfect cup of coffee. With a lot of different brewing methods and tools available, there is always something different to try.

We hope that we did a good job explaining how brewed coffee differs from drip coffee and helped you get one step closer to coffee perfection.

Enjoy your coffee!