Espresso shots are used as the basis for many other drinks including Americano, Cappuccino and Latte. Some prefer a double shot.
An espresso shot is the amount of coffee used to brew an Espresso which is a very small, intense coffee drink.
Use 7-9 grams of ground coffee per shot.
Method: Extraction with hot water under pressure
Duration: Extract 1.5 ounces per shot under pressure.
Whether using an inexpensive home espresso machine, or a commercial grade $20,000 machine, it is important to pull the best espresso shots that you can with it. Pulling shots in the ideal time, with an even tamp, correct water temperature, as well as other things, can help guarantee the perfect shots.
To start from the ground up, and assuming the espresso machine is 100% functional, let’s go over grinding and tamping. If your machine is not some super fancy super-automatic machine, chances are, you will have to grind your own coffee and tamp it in the portafilter yourself.
The grind itself is one of those things that will take trial and error to perfect for your specific machine, but a typical single shot consists of 7-9 grams of ground coffee, and a double shot consists of 14-18 grams.
Once the coffee is ground and put into the portafilter, tamping the coffee is the next step. Put around 20 pounds or so of pressure evenly on the tamper, give a slight twist, and pull the tamper out. Even tamping is key, as it will ensure that the whole puck of espresso is equally fortified, and so the espresso will flow through both spouts and an equal rate.
Like all coffee brewing, the temperature of the clean and fresh water used, is very important. If the water is too hot, it will burn the coffee. If the water temperature is too cool, then the resulting coffee will taste very bland, bitter, and even sour.
The key extraction time for espresso is somewhere in the range of 18-23 seconds, depending on the machine.
The layers of an Espresso shot
- The crema is the tiny coating on top of an espresso shot that is the tastiest part of it. A little golden-brown hue should be present in a nice crema.
- A dark caramel-brown hue should be present for the body of the espresso extraction, which serves as the main part of the drink and ads most to the flavour and texture. If this is too thin it can indicate an overextraction.
- The very bottom of an espresso shot serves as a bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of the crema, all the solid particulates in the shot will sink to the bottom. Ideally, the hue should be a deep, rich brown.
Problems when pulling an Espresso shot
There are two extremes of espresso extraction. Either the shots are extremely dark, extract in way above a decent time, and taste super bitter, or they are very light, extract in a couple seconds, and have a very mild taste.
The goal is to find the middle ground of these two extremes for the perfect shots of espresso, and can be tinkered by changing the grind and tamp of the espresso.
If the espresso shots are like the first situation, then using a slightly more coarse grind can help fix it. If the shots are like the second situation, using a finer grind can help change them for the better.
Overall, making great espresso shots does take some work to master with each machine, but the work is worth it to be able to make amazing tasting drinks at home!
Crema should be golden brown with a strong taste. There will be a hint of citrus slightly bitter taste followed by a smooth sweet afterglow.
Drink immediately, certainly within 60 seconds for best flavours.
Now this article would not be complete if we didn’t go into the many types of espresso shots, especially as these are often regional and make the basis for many other coffee recipies.
There are also different types of espresso shots, such as ristretto and long shots – see our articles on Corto, Revvivare, Lungo, Cortissimo and Ristretto.
Espresso shot guide
Doppio Espresso is a combination of two shots of espresso.
To prepare a Espresso Doppio, use an espresso machine to draw two espresso shots (for a total of around 3 ounces). An appropriately sized demitasse or Cappuccino cup are the most appropriate vessels for serving a doppio espresso. Doppio is an Italian word that means “double.” Instead of the usual 30 ml shot of espresso, a doppio provides you with a 60 ml dose of espresso.
Make sure you’re using the right espresso grind size and that you’re following Coffee Revolution’s guidelines for making a great cup of coffee. A cup of espresso Doppio is sometimes referred to as Doppio Espresso; Double Shot in certain circles. Doppio is an Italian multiplier that literally translates as “double.” It is referred to as a standard double owing to the fact that it is used as a benchmark for measuring the quality of espresso in barista competitions, in which four single espresso shots are created using two double portafilters.
Corto shots (often confused with Ristretto) can be used as the base for a variety of other drinks, but they also work well as a Espresso shot on their own.
Extraction with hot water at high pressure. The key here is a quick, short extraction with a similar amount of water as an espresso shot. If an ultra fine grind is not available, tamp the coffee down firmly to maximise extraction.
Under high pressure, extract only 1 to 1.5 ounces per shot. Extraction time is the same as for espresso, but the same amount of water is used, which can flow faster or slower depending on your maker.
Crema should be golden brown and sweet in flavour. The resulting shot will be slightly less bitter than a Espresso shot, with a strong body and a chocolaty aftertaste.
Ristretto shots (literally “restricted”) can be used as the foundation for a variety of other drinks, but they also work well as a Espresso shot.
Here are some tips and techniques for making a good Ristretto shot.
For Ristretto shots, the water amount of water that is pumped into the coffee is less than a normal espresso shot. This gives a sweeter and less bitter flavour. Long shots are shots that have had a lot of extra water pumped through the grounds, and will extract pretty much all the flavour and caffeine out of the grinds. Long shots are a good way to get the absolute most out of the coffee, but they are somewhat bitter.
Serve: In a small cup and gulp down in one go, or use as the basis for other drinks adding hot water and or foamed warm milk.
Ristretto Grind: Ultra Fine Extraction Method: Extraction with hot water under extremely high pressure. The key here is a quick, short extraction that uses about half to three quarters of the water in an espresso shot. If an ultra fine grind is not available, tamp the coffee very firmly to maximise extraction.
Under high pressure, extract only 1 to 1.5 ounces per shot. The extraction time is shorter than that of an espresso and less water is used.
Crema should be golden brown and sweet in flavour. The resulting shot will be less bitter than a Espresso shot, bordering on sweet for a dark roast, and have a strong body with a chocolaty aftertaste.
Lungo shots are a variation on the Americano, which is an espresso shot topped off with hot water. The Lungo is a long full cup extraction from ground coffee that can taste bitter and contains a lot of caffeine.
Many beginners, without realising it, use their pod machines at home to pull a full cup from a single pod, resulting in a Lungo shot.
Tips for a Great Lungo Shot Grind: Course to Medium
Extraction method: hot water under moderate pressure. The key here is to mimic brewed coffee by using a lot of water and a long extraction time.
On most machines, extract 5-7 ounces per shot slowly over 60 seconds (around 10 bar pressure).
Crema should be very thick and light brown in colour, with a slightly sour taste. The shot produced contains more caffeine than other shots and extracts more compounds from the beans.
Cortissimo shots are commonly used as the base for many other drinks, most notably the flat white and Cortado, but they also work well in other coffee options if you prefer a stronger flavour with less caffeine.
Here are some techniques and pointers for making a good Cortissimo shot.
For each Cortissimo shot, use 20 grammes of ground coffee.
Cortissimo Grind: Fine Extraction Method: Extraction with hot water under very high pressure, yes, a lot of water pressure. The key here is a quick, short extraction. Tamp the coffee firmly to get the most out of it.
Under high pressure, extract 0.7 ounces per shot. The extraction time is less than that of a Espresso and slightly less than that of a Ristretto.
Crema should be golden brown and sweet in flavour. The resulting shot contains less caffeine than an espresso or Ristretto shot and has a sweet, sugary, smooth texture with an intensely strong coffee flavour.
The name Revvivare comes from the Italian word Ravvivare, which means “to revive.” It was popularised in the United Kingdom and quickly spread throughout Europe, as well as into Australia and New Zealand. It’s essentially a double Cortissimo shot with a caffeine kick, so it’s ideal for a morning coffee.
Only use 20 grammes of ground coffee per shot that is 100% Arabica and medium roasted.
Grind: Extra Fine Method: Two-phase extraction with hot water under very high pressure. A quick, short initial extraction, similar to the Cortissimo, followed by a 5-second pause to extract as much as possible from the bean. Tamp the coffee firmly to get the most out of it.
Extraction time: 1.5 ounces per shot under extremely high pressure (half an ounce then one ounce). The extraction time is approximately 10 seconds, followed by another 15 seconds for the final ounce.
Crema should be golden brown in colour, with a slightly bitter aftertaste but a strong chocolate flavour. The resulting shot contains more caffeine than a Cortissimo and has a much stronger flavour. Some baristas prefer a quick 12gram extraction followed by a slightly longer 10gram extraction.