Espresso vs Turkish vs Drip Coffee – a Visual Comparison

Turkish coffee and espresso are two of the most popular coffee drinks in the world. They both have their own unique characteristics and fans. So, which one is better? In this document, we will compare Turkish coffee to espresso and see how they stack up against each other. We will look at the different brewing variables, such as grind size, pressure, and other factors that make these two drinks different. By the end of this document, you should have a good understanding of which drink is right for you!

Let's make this clear, the content is not our main concern in this article, though we will be touching on it. We think that if you need more caffeine, you can always drink another delicious cup. But if you dread the taste of your coffee, you can't caffeinate properly.

The Flavor Difference – Turkish Coffee vs Espresso

When comparing espresso with other drinks, there are a few questions that are relevant. How much coffee beans do I need to use, how strong the coffee is, and how much coffee do I get? But to me, the most important question is: “What is the flavor like, and how does a cup of compare to a Turkish cup?

Let's start with the flavor/taste.

The main difference between Turkish coffee and espresso is the flavor complexity. Espresso has many flavor nuances that Turkish coffee lacks. The pressure during the extraction, and the way that water is pushed at high pressure through the coffee bed, lock in flavors that are volatile, and they are simply lost during Turkish coffee preparation. pulls compounds.

Espresso gives us a cup of coffee that is more vibrant, with many origin notes. Turkish gives us a cup that is very strong, with an ample body, (almost thick), but it lacks 

Turkish brew method gives you a bold and rich cup, like espresso, but origin notes, and flavor undertones are muted, very similar to a traditional French press coffee. Except Turkish coffee is stronger, and you'll se why in a minute.

Although they are both strong coffees, Turkish coffee is more so, because of the very fine grind, which is the finest among all coffee preparation methods. The powder-like grind size allows a soluble solids to dissolve easier in the brew, increasing the TDS.

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Preparation Differences Between Espresso and Turkish Coffee

There are a few differences between the way espresso and Turkish coffee are prepared. Many of them too insignificant to cause any important flavor shifts. But a few of these differences determine the major distinction in look and taste. 

The main difference between Turkish coffee and espresso, from a preparation perspective, is the pressure during extraction. Another difference is the finer grind size needed for Turkish coffee, compared to espresso. However, the grind size is not as important as the pressure difference.

Another big difference is that Turkish coffee is ground much finer than espresso, almost to a powder. This increases the extraction a lot, and it allows less extraction time. Many people believe that Turkish coffee continues to get extracted even after we take the cezve of the stove. In their opinion, this leads to over-extraction, and over-extraction leads to a bitter cup. While the extraction continues for a bit, because the grounds are in constant contact with the water, the extraction lowers a lot to the point where it doesn't really affect the beverage. 

Finally, the third major difference between the two coffee brewing methods is the filtration. Traditionally, Turkish coffee is not filtered at all, though a minority filters it using improvised solutions. The grounds are let to settle at the bottom of the cup, and the last few sips are always left in the cup, in order to avoid the coffee grounds.

The brew temperature is also an important factor, here, and it does have a direct impact on the extracted flavors. Turkish coffee does not get heated at high temperatures, though in many brew guides the word boiled is mentioned. According to the traditional way of preparing Turkish coffee, you can not let the coffee boil. When coffee raises in the cezve, the brew is finished. This keeps the brew temperature between 160°F and 170°F, compared to 200°F for pulling an espresso shot.

On the other hand, espresso is filtered with a metallic filter-basket, which retains the spent grounds, but allows the coffee oils to get extracted in the cup, (similarly to Turkish coffee, but unlike typical filter coffee.)

There is a common misconception in the coffee world that certain brew methods need a certain roast. This is completely false. You can use any type of roast you like, for both espresso and Turkish coffee.

For instance, Northern Italy prefers their espresso prepared with a lighter roast, whereas the Southern Italy prefer a darker roast. 

Similarly, Turkish coffee is traditionally prepared with a dark roast, whereas Greek coffee, (same recipe different name), is prepared with a lighter roast. 

The addition of sugar is another discussion subject. Turkish coffee is traditionally prepared with sugar, however, many people, including friends mine, drink it black. Similarly, many Italians add sugar in their espresso, but black espresso is also very popular.

Equipment Used for Preparation

This is a pretty important difference, and some people might get discouraged about brewing their own espresso at home. Espresso brewing is rather expensive from an equipment perspective. If you want to prepare your espresso at home, you will need to buy a burr , and an espresso machine. This is for a traditional espresso. If you don't have the budget, the Moka pot might be a decent alternative, but it's not the same thing.

On the other hand, a cezve and a blade grinder are going to cost you a fraction of the cost. 

The Serving Size

The typical shot of espresso is a 1 fluid ounce, and is served in a . In Italy, this is the most common serving size, though people have multiple servings per day. In North America the double shot is the most common serving size for espresso. 

The typical Turkish coffee is still served in a demitasse, but the cup is full. The Turkish coffee is slightly less concentrated than an espresso, so a full demitasse will not give you jitters. They are also served multiple times per day, as the caffeination needs require it. 


Which drink is right for you? If you like a strong coffee but with a smoother taste, then Turkish coffee is the right choice for you. If you prefer intense, more bitter drinks balanced with acidity, then espresso is the better option. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which drink you like best! Oh, and let's not forget the filtration difference, that is a deal breaker for many.