Many people do not understand the difference between coffee and espresso. There are actually very distinct differences between the two. Espresso is actually just a way of preparing coffee and coffee is really just a beverage made from roasted coffee beans. Espresso is made by forcing hot water at a high pressure through finely ground coffee. “Coffee” in the sense of your average cup of joe (or drip coffee,) is made by the use of gravity to move water through coffee grounds. The coffee beans used to make a regular cup of coffee are the same beans that are used for espresso.
Drip coffee is made by pouring hot water onto ground coffee. Steam and pressure are involved in the process of making espresso. Because of how espresso is prepared, it cannot be matched by drip coffee. Espresso is much stronger than a regular brewed cup of coffee which lends to its use in many popular coffee drinks. While the differences seem small, espresso is much more desirable than drip coffee in coffee drinks because it has much bigger flavor in a smaller volume. If drip coffee were used in a fancy coffee drink, after all is added, the flavor of the coffee would taste kind of watered down. This is why espresso offers much more convenience versus drip coffee for coffee shops and cafes.
Coffee ground for espresso is extremely fine. It is also as fine as dust, whereas coffee ground for drip coffee is not as fine. Those who make espresso tightly pack the coffee and then the espresso machine forces approximately 1.5 ounces of hot water through the finely ground coffee. Drip coffee makes use of coarsely ground coffee. This process also makes use of hot water. One myth about espresso is that it contains a ton of caffeine. A shot of espresso contains no more coffee than a cup of drip coffee. In fact, a cup of drip coffee contains more caffeine!