Drip coffee machine vs espresso machine

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There are so many different ways to make coffee and this can leave coffee lovers in something of a dilemma; which type of machine should they buy? Some of the most popular choices are the drip coffee machine and the espresso machine; but are these one of the same, or is there a key difference?

Hint: Scroll down the page to see the best-selling espresso and drip coffee machines

An espresso machine relies on hot water being forced through tightly packed coffee grounds using high pressure and speed. This makes a much stronger, highly concentrated drink. In contrast, a drip coffee machine allows water to slowly trickle through the grounds and through a filter making a less intense coffee drink.

But there is a lot more to learn about the difference between a drip coffee machine vs espresso machine. Let’s take a deep dive.

What’s the difference between a drip coffee machine and an espresso machine?

Before you can truly appreciate the difference between an espresso machine and a drip coffee machine, you must first understand the difference between the two drinks. We have written an in-depth guide on espresso vs coffee which you can find here. But in short, an espresso is a shot of highly concentrated dark coffee whereas regular coffee is much less intense and the beans are not roasted for as long.

Since these are two entirely different drinks, it stands to reason that they must be made using different pieces of equipment. The drip coffee machine features a water reservoir which heats up the liquid before slowly filtering it through the coffee grounds and then into your cup.

On the other hand, an espresso machine uses high pressure hot water to blast through tightly packed coffee grounds making for a much stronger and highly concentrated drink.

There are two main types of espresso machines; the automatic and the semi-automatic, the latter requiring a little more input from the user.

Are espresso machines cheaper than drip coffee machines?

If you are looking for an affordable way to make a cup of coffee then there is no doubt that you should opt for a regular drip coffee machine. These are far less sophisticated pieces of equipment compared to the espresso machine which can be much more expensive.

espresso coffee

Though, as with any small kitchen appliance, you can find inexpensive versions of both machines. A decent espresso machine starts from around £50 ($68) whereas you can find cheap filter machines from £20 ($28).

However, if you have a passion for espresso, it is worth making the investment as an espresso machine is the only way that you will be able to make this type of beverage.

It is also worth pointing out that a shot or two of espresso is used as the base for many frothy coffees such as cappuccino, latte, macchiato and more. You can learn more about this on our milk frother recipes pages.

That’s not to say you can make frothy coffee with a filter machine. You most certainly can but for a wider range of drinks and for that authentic taste you should use espresso in most cases.

Best selling espresso coffee machines

SaleBestseller No. 1
De'Longhi Dedica Style, Traditional Pump Espresso Machine, Coffee and Cappuccino Maker, EC685M, Silver
  • Create all your coffee shop favorites with a real barista experience at home
  • Prepare and deliver your perfect espresso with fresh ground coffee
  • Adjustable milk frothing steam device for frothy cappuccino and silky smooth latte
Bestseller No. 2
Sage Barista Express Espresso Machine - Espresso and Coffee Maker, Bean to Cup Coffee Machine, BES875BKS, Black Sesame
  • The Sage Barista Express delivers third wave speciality coffee at home using the 4 keys formula...
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver...
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and...
Bestseller No. 3
Swan Retro Pump Espresso Coffee Machine, Grey, 15 Bars of Pressure, Milk Frother, 1.2L Tank, SK22110GRN
  • High performance - 15 Bars of pressure and a self-priming system means the Swan Retro espresso...
  • Generous 1.2 litre detachable water tank and with room to make either one or two cups at a...
  • Compatible with easy serve espresso (ESE) pods and ground coffee, using the professional spoon...
SaleBestseller No. 4
De'Longhi ECP35.31Traditional Barista Pump Espresso Machine, Coffee and Cappuccino Maker, Black
  • Premium finishing
  • Adjustable milk frother to enhance the quality of the steamed milk
  • Ability to use E.S.E pods as an alternative to ground coffee
Bestseller No. 5
De'Longhi Scultura Traditional Barista Pump Espresso Machine, Coffee and Cappuccino Maker, ECZ351BG, Champagne
  • 15 BAR PRESSURE to create your perfect espresso with a rich aroma and a nut coloured cream on...
  • CAPPUCCINO SYSTEM: Create a wide range of milk based beverages thanks to the manual milk...
  • CUSTOMISE ESPRESSO: Enjoy your favourite coffee, whether that is a strong espresso or frothy...

Pros and cons of an espresso machine

The espresso machine, as we have mentioned, can be a more expensive piece of equipment and this is one of the most obvious drawbacks. Some espresso machines may be prone to failure due to the pressure they have to build up with repairs being time consuming and costly.

In addition to this, you must be willing to learn how to use your machine. While an automatic espresso machine is typically easier to learn, many people will opt for a semi-automatic which does come with a bit of a learning curve so you will need to be patient while you get to know your machine.

Must read article: What is a bean to cup coffee machine?

That said, there are far many more plus points to owning an espresso machine, one of the first being that these are usually high-end pieces of equipment that are incredibly adept at the job they are designed to do. There is no other reliable way to make a proper espresso at home.

process of making brewing americano with a barista coffee machine

Even more, you can choose the degree of control you have over the machine. If you want something convenient that will blast out your morning coffee then an automatic espresso machine will be ideal. However, if you want something of an input in terms of extraction then a semi-automatic affords you this and gives you the chance to be a barista in your own kitchen.

An espresso machine also provides you with a fast way to make your drinks and as we mentioned earlier gives you the base of many other coffee drinks that require a shot of espresso such as latte or macchiato.

Best selling drip coffee machines

SaleBestseller No. 1
Coffee Maker, Filter Coffee Machine with Timer, 1.8L Programmable Drip Coffee Maker, 40min Keep Warm & Anti-Drip System, Reusable Filter, Fast Brewing Technology, 900W, by Yabano
  • ☕【Programmable Timer】 Do you need a coffee but no time to wait? Now you can wake up in...
  • ☕【Adjustable Mode】Precise control to achieve the best taste, Non-stick Warming Plate can...
  • ☕【Ultra-resistant glass carafe】 Yabano drip coffee machine with the ultra-resistant glass...
Bestseller No. 2
De'Longhi Argento Flora drip Coffee Machine, Plastic, 1.25 liters, ICMX210.PK, Pink
  • Exclusive peony rose paint finish – will not show finger prints
  • 13 cup capacity with premium glass carafe
  • Manual control
Bestseller No. 3
Morphy Richards 162008 Pour Over Filter Coffee Maker, 1.8 Litre, 900 W, Black, Morphy Richards Coffee Machine
  • Programmable timer that allows you to wake up to a fresh coffee
  • Pour over technology shower head to create a fuller flavour
  • Reusable permanent cupcake filter to create a smoother flavour
Bestseller No. 4
Geepas 1.5L Filter Coffee Machine | 1000W Coffee Maker for Instant Coffee, Espresso, Macchiato & More | Boil-Dry Protection, Anti-Drip Function, Automatic Turn-Off Feature (Standard) – 2 Year Warranty
  • 1.5L LARGE CAPACITY - Glass carafe with 1.5 L capacity, this allows you to brew a large amount...
  • AUTOMATIC SHUT-OFF, BOIL-DRY PROTECTION - The coffee maker has two safety turn-off functions....
  • 30 SECOND ANTI-DRIP FUNCTION - The 30 Second Anti-drip function will enable you to pause in...
SaleBestseller No. 5
De'Longhi Active Line Drip Filter Coffee Machine, Stainless Steel, Keep warm & anti-drip function, 0.65 Litres, ICM14011.BK, Black
  • Aroma function - 2 different brewing speed regulations to set the brewing performances.
  • Jug warmer base to keep your coffee hot for up to 40 minutes
  • Anti drip system - no dripping when carafe is removed. "

Pros and cons of a drip coffee machine

For those who are considering purchasing a drip coffee machine, you should keep in mind that these do not come with the ability to make espresso which is one of the main drawbacks. In addition, you will need to continue purchasing filters so while the maintenance may not be as great, there is still a financial aspect involved in the long term.

That said, the drip coffee machine is far less expensive in the first instance so provides you with an affordable way to make coffee. There are a lot of drip coffee machines that come with the option to set a program so you don’t have to worry about monitoring the machine or turning it on when you want a drink. A lot of people find this function useful in the morning.

young woman drinking frothy coffee made with vegan barista blend milk

Another great thing about the drip coffee machine is that you have the ability to make a batch of coffee, which is not something that your espresso machine can do. If you have guests who are all thirsty for coffee, this is the obvious choice.

Finally, a drip coffee machine requires no experience to use. You can simply unpack your new machine, plug it in and get going. It is as simple as pushing a button and walking away and there is no need to learn any new skills.

Drip coffee machine vs espresso machine – the final word

Coffee lovers around the world are fortunate enough to have a wide range of options when it comes to how they make their drinks. However, one thing that you should keep in mind is that not all coffee machines are made equal.

For example, the espresso machine uses high pressure water that is forced through tightly packed ground and produces a much more concentrated coffee. These are sometimes difficult to use and a little more expensive but they are the only way to produce this type of coffee. A drip coffee machine is cheaper and easier to use but won’t allow you to create that smooth, intense espresso that is the base of many other drinks.

As a frothy coffee fan, and if you could only have one of these coffee makers, I would say go for an espresso machine every time.

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