Drip Coffee Makers vs Espresso Machines: Which Should You Go For?

Deciding between a drip coffee maker and an espresso machine for your home? You’ve come to the right place! 

What is a Drip Coffee Maker?

A drip coffee maker is a kitchen appliance that brews coffee by heating water and then dripping it over coffee grounds. The hot water is typically heated by an element inside the coffee maker, and the dripping action is created by gravity. Some models also have a pre-infusion feature, which allows the user to wet their coffee grounds before the brewing process begins. This helps to extract more flavours from the coffee beans.

Brew times for drip coffee makers vary depending on the model, but most can brew a full pot of coffee in five minutes or less, making it an extremely convenient option for those who want fuss-free yet large batches of coffee. The resulting brew from using a drip filter coffee machine is typically less bitter than those made with other methods, like French press or espresso machine.

What is an Espresso Machine?

An espresso maker is a coffee machine that brews coffee by forcing pressurised water near boiling point through a puck of ground coffee and a filter to produce a thick, concentrated coffee called espresso. Espresso machines are available at a wide range of prices and come in both semi-automatic and fully automatic varieties.

The difference between an espresso machine and other types of coffee makers is the pressure with which the water is forced through the coffee grounds. Traditional drip coffee makers allow gravity to push hot water through the coffee grounds slowly, but an espresso machine forces water through at around nine bars of pressure. This results in a much faster brewing process and a more concentrated and flavourful cup of coffee.

As aforementioned, espresso machines come in both semi-automatic and fully automatic varieties. Fully automatic coffee machines do everything from grinding the coffee beans to tamping the grounds, brewing the espresso, and frothing the milk. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of making a great cup of espresso, but they also tend to be more expensive than their semi-automatic counterparts.

Semi-automatic espresso machines require the user to do some of the work, such as grinding the beans and tamping the grounds, but they automate other parts of the process, such as brewing and frothing the milk. This gives the user more control over the final product, but it also means that there is a bit more room for error.

Resulting Taste, Texture, and Overall Profile of Coffee Brewed

As we’ve seen, drip coffee makers and espresso machines both have their own distinct brewing methods. These two methods result in coffees with different tastes, textures, and overall profiles.

Drip coffee is typically less bitter than espresso because the water can slowly drip through the grounds, extract flavours, and then drip into the pot. This process takes longer than forcing water through the grounds under pressure (as is done with an espresso machine), but it results in a coffee that has a more balanced flavour profile. Also to note is that the filters used in drip coffee makers can soak up the natural oils of your coffee, making it difficult to achieve a full, rich flavour. 

Espresso, on the other hand, is a more concentrated and intense coffee brewed by espresso makers due to the higher pressure with which the water is forced through the grounds. This results in a bolder, more robust flavour that many coffee drinkers prefer.

When it comes to texture, drip coffee is typically thinner than espresso because more water is used in the brewing process. Espresso is somewhat of a thicker, more syrupy coffee due to the higher-pressure brewing method and the smaller amount of water that is used.

So, which type of coffee machine should you go for? A drip coffee maker or an espresso machine? Well, that really depends on your personal preferences. If you like a strong, bold coffee with a robust flavour profile, then espresso makers are probably the way to go. However, if you prefer more balanced and less intense coffee, a drip coffee machine is probably a better-suited option. In other words, it boils down to what you like in your coffee. 

Types of Coffee each Machine Excels In 

While both drip coffee makers and espresso machines can brew a variety of different types of coffee, each type of coffee machine has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Drip coffee apparatuses are typically better at brewing lighter roasts, while espresso machines excel at brewing darker roasts of coffee. This is because the longer brewing time of drip coffee makers allows more time for the lighter roast flavours of the coffee beans to extract. In contrast, the shorter brewing time of espresso machines result in a bolder, more intense flavour that is characteristic of darker roasts. 

Do also note that speciality coffees such as lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, and the likes can only be brewed with espresso coffee machines and not drip coffee machines due to the lack of pressure in the latter’s brewing method to achieve that strong shot of espresso needed for these coffees.  

Ease of Use

Traditional drip coffee machines are relatively simple to use:

  1. Start by heating up some water in a kettle. You’ll need around 200ml of water for each cup of coffee you’re brewing.
  2. While the water is heating up, grind your coffee beans to a medium-fine grind. If you have pre-ground coffee, that’s fine too – just make sure it’s not too finely ground or else it will clog up your filter paper.
  3. Once the water is heated up, place a filter paper into your drip coffee maker’s filter holder and wet it with some hot water. This will help to remove any papery taste from the filter paper.
  4. Add your ground coffee to the filter paper and give it a gentle shake to level off the grounds.
  5. Slowly pour the hot water over the grounds, making sure to distribute it evenly . Avoid pouring all of the water in at once, as this can result in an uneven extraction.
  6. Allow the coffee to brew for around 3-5 minutes or until the water has filtered through all of the grounds and into the pot.
  7. Once the coffee is brewed, remove the filter holder and discard the used grounds.
  8. Serve your coffee and enjoy!

De’Longhi takes things a step further with our automatic drip coffee machines. For example, the Active Line 5-Cup Drip Coffee Machine comes with an aroma function and clear level indicator for ultimate precision when brewing coffee, along with a removable coffee filter and glass pot for easier cleaning of your drip coffee machine. There’s also the Clessidra Pour Over Coffee Maker, which can replicate the pour-over coffee method of brewing with just a touch of a button. It is also equipped with a high-quality filter coffee brewing function, a 10-cup carafe, a keep-warm plate, an anti-drip system, auto-shutoff capabilities, and a descaling alarm. These features give you everything you need and more to achieve the perfect drip coffee or pour-over coffee at home. 

However, when it comes to using espresso coffee makers, things can become quite complex. While De’Longhi's pump espresso coffee makers — such as the glorious La Specialista Prestigio and Arte — are renowned throughout the world for their sophistication, style, and amazing coffee results, there are some aspects of using these coffee machines that require a certain level of skill and knowledge. Tamping, for starters, is one such aspect. Fully automatic coffee machines, on the other hand, while often said to be easier to use, can require more advanced knowledge of how to make espresso. After all, a semi-automatic espresso machine gives you more control over the final product due to its semi-manual nature. However, those familiar with the brewing process will find that fully automatic espresso machines can be as easy to use as drip coffee machines. 

All things considered, drip coffee machines can be said to be much more beginner-friendly appliances. In contrast, both semi-automatic and fully automatic espresso coffee machines necessitate some degree of skill and expertise to achieve consistent results. 

Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance

Another important consideration when choosing between a drip coffee maker and an espresso machine is how easy each type of machine is to clean and maintain.

Drip coffee makers are generally much easier to clean than espresso machines because there are fewer moving parts and less potential for messes. Espresso machines, on the other hand, have more complex internals (such as the boiler and pump) that can be difficult to clean and maintain.

So, if you’re looking for a coffee maker that is easy to keep clean, then a drip coffee maker is probably your best bet. However, if you don’t mind taking the time to clean and maintain your espresso machine, then it can definitely be worth the effort!

Entailed Costs of Each Coffee Machine

Drip coffee machines are much more affordable, with the De’Longhi Active Line 5-Cup Drip Coffee Machine retailing at only S$79, and the Clessidra Pour Over Coffee Maker retailing at S$199 for its dual-function as both a filter coffee maker machine and a pour over coffee maker. 

Semi-automatic espresso makers, on the flip side, are slightly more expensive due to their added functionality, sophistication, and versatility. The La Specialista Arte, for example, is priced at S$1,199, while the La Specialista Prestigio is priced higher at S$1,699. There are, however, more affordable options here as well, such as the Stilosa Manual Pump Coffee Machine that retails at S$289 and the Dedica line of espresso makers that start from S$489. 

Lastly, as aforementioned, fully automatic espresso machines cost the most, with models such as the De’Longhi PrimaDonna Elite Experience retailing at S$4,299 and the Maestosa Fully Automatic Coffee Machine retailing at S$5,399.

Still Can’t Decide Between a Drip Coffee Maker or an Espresso Machine? Let Us Help!

At De’Longhi Singapore, we understand that making a choice between a drip coffee maker and an espresso coffee machine for your home can be difficult. That is why our live coffee advisors are always ready to lend a listening ear and a helping hand. Trained to give curated advice, our industry experts offer complimentary 1-on-1 consultation sessions on anything and everything coffee-related, with choosing between a drip coffee maker or espresso machine being no exception. 

Check out our premium coffee beans and coffee bean grinders to complete your brewing setup at home. Be sure to keep an eye out for amazing deals and promotions on our dedicated sales page to save on your purchase of a drip coffee machine, espresso maker, or any other De’Longhi appliance.