So, an espresso machine makes espresso. I think that we can all agree on. But… does it have the ability to go farther than that? Can it make regular coffee?
The short answer is, kinda. Technically, you can’t make real, regular coffee, depending on your definition of “regular coffee” with an espresso machine. However, you can make coffee resembling regular coffee with it.
If you were actually wondering if you can use regular coffee beans in your espresso machine, you can just skip to the section about espresso vs regular beans.
Yet, I think there is so much to be said about this. So, let’s start at the beginning.
What is Coffee?
Coffee is not simply coffee. When I entered the coffee world this is one of the first things that I came to realize. The word coffee is a broad concept that goes far beyond what most people think.
I now actually find it amusing when I get a menu at a restaurant that gives me the option to order “coffee”. I’m not kidding. This happened to me just the other day.
The thing is, the word “coffee” is an umbrella term for any kind of drink that is made using coffee beans, or even an artificial thing resembling the taste.
The first thing that we have to establish is what is “regular coffee” and what is “espresso”. Only then can we go into the details as to what the differences between these two coffee drinks are. And finally we can establish if that fancy machine in coffee shops, or even in your kitchen, can make regular coffee.
What is Regular Coffee?
Usually when people talk about regular coffee they tend to refer to any coffee that is not espresso or espresso-based. This would include immersion brewing methods such as French press coffee or filter coffee such as pour-over coffee or those made with a drip coffee maker.
It is made with more water than espresso and no pressure. So, basically it is coffee that is not as concentrated as espresso.
What is Espresso?
Espresso is a kind of coffee that is made by forcing hot water under high pressure through finely-ground coffee beans. The result is a strong concentrated shot of espresso. This espresso shot can be used as it is or it can be used as the base for other coffee drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites.
Espresso also has a fuller body than regular coffee.
Why Your Espresso Machine Technically Can’t Make Regular Coffee
As I mentioned earlier, your espresso machine can technically not make regular coffee. This is, unless you bought a multi-function machine that has a built-in capability to make both like those cool super-automatic machines.
Okay, so, let’s say you don’t have a fancy machine that has different functions. Why can’t it make a regular cup of coffee?
The short answer is that it takes a different brewing process to make these two kinds of coffee. And your machine can only do the one extraction process.
Can’t I Just Use Regular Coffee Beans?
You can use regular coffee grounds in an espresso machine. However, changing the type of coffee bean won’t make that you end up with regular coffee.
The reason is that espresso beans is not what makes espresso, it is the brewing method. Beans that are sold as an espresso roast or blend are just beans that the roaster believes the type of bean combined with the roast level works well to make espresso with.
Can’t I Just Pull the Espresso for Longer?
Pulling the espresso shot for longer will end up using a larger amount of water. Which means that you will get a drink the same size of a regular cup of coffee. Yet, it will probably have a bitter taste.
The thing is, you are still using the brewing method for making espresso. All you will be doing if you pull the shot for longer is to over-extract the shot.
Espresso and regular coffee are different brewing methods
What are My Options Then?
You can opt to make an Americano using your espresso machine.
Legend goes that when the Americans came to Italy in World War II, they found the espresso of the Italians too strong. They ended up adding hot water to espresso to achieve a taste similar to the coffee they were used to.
So, in short, the Americans solved that problem for you. If you add some hot water to espresso, you’ll end up with a drink that tastes similar to regular coffee. And it’s called an Americano and it is your best option to get close to regular coffee with an espresso machine.
How to Make Regular Coffee With an Espresso Machine?
As I mentioned, an Americano tastes similar to regular coffee. So, here is how to make an Americano:
- Pull a double shot espresso
- Add about double the amount of water
- Add more or less water for the desired flavor
Yes, you can. However, it won’t necessarily taste good.
Basically, the fact that it is sold as espresso beans, simply means that the roaster thinks that specific beans combined with the roast level works well for espresso. Yet, sometimes other beans can also work. It is up to personal preference.
Yes, there are coffee machines that can make regular coffee and espresso. An example of such a machine is the De’Longhi All-in-One Coffee and Espresso Maker COM532M.
Per volume, espresso coffee has a higher caffeine content. However, per drink, normal coffee generally has higher caffeine levels.
A single shot of espresso has about 63 mg of caffeine and a standard cup of coffee 95 mg on average.
More Information About Americanos
If you are now intrigued by Americanos, here are some other posts that might interest you.
Cappuccino vs Americano
Both Americanos and cappuccinos are popular coffee drinks, but how do they differ. If you want to know which one is the right one for you, you can read my post about the differences between Americanos and cappuccinos.
Iced Americano vs Cold Brew
Both of these coffee are cold and perfect for a hot summer’s day. But which one will you like best?
Read my post about the differences between iced Americanos and cold brew to find out.