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Differences Between Single and Double Espresso Shots

In the complex world of espresso, simple brewing ratios can be difficult to understand. For example, what is a double shot? Is even or odd terminology valid anymore? And how does each of these affect the taste of brewed coffee?

These questions all relate to the amount of espresso or brewing rate obtained from your ground coffee.

If you think it would be pretty simple to try to explain the differences between a single #shot espresso and a #double shot, you'd be wrong.

In this article, I will try to simplify the information as much as possible and hopefully we can help shed some light on this overly complex question.

Keeping it Simple

It's a simplified explanation, but it will be the easiest to grasp for new coffee aficionados and #baristas alike without complicating it any more than it needs to be.

Here we go.

A traditional single espresso requires 7 grams of fine coffee grounds, and you can expect to extract around 30ml of espresso.

Weighing your espresso is actually a relatively new practice. Typically, over the past 70 years, baristas have "guessed" when the shoot will end by sight alone.

A double shot of espresso, yes, you guessed it, requires 14 grams of finely ground coffee and will produce about 60ml of espresso.

So far, it's all basic math, pretty simple.

Double espresso shots are now standard in most cafes around the world. Most machines are set and calibrated to fire two shots.

Although not the original inventors, the double shot (doppio) became popular in the late 1990s.

Today, you'll find that most baristas using an espresso machine will still take a double shot, but if you order a single espresso they will use a split-style portafilter to cut the shot in half.

On the flavor side, nothing changes. Double shot espressos were promoted and promoted to help the bottom line of the business by increasing output and making busy baristas more productive during peak periods.

Typically, in terms of caffeine content, a single espresso can contain between 30 and 50 mg of caffeine. So, if we apply some basic math, this means that a double shot of espresso will hold 60 to 100 mg of caffeine.

If only it were that simple.

If you're sensitive to caffeine or want to learn a little more, read on.

Extremely Complex Truth

Focusing on espresso ratios is getting harder as the industry changes and innovates. We're finding new ways to do things that were previously impossible, and with modern espresso machines baristas can get more creative with how they shoot each shot.

A double shot of espresso requires 14 grams of finely ground coffee and you can expect around 60 ml of espresso.

It seems simple enough, but actually, this is where it starts to get complicated.

You see, today's baristas prefer to measure by mass (weight) rather than volume.

Let's take a closer look at 60ml espresso.

When I first learned to make espresso, I was taught that a single espresso is 25 to 30 ml in size.

Here is the problem.

Milliliters are a measurement of volume and are useless when it comes to making espresso.

The layer of golden crema floating on top ensures that the appeal of espresso goes hand in hand with how fresh your coffee beans are.

Fresher means more crema as the CO2 produced during the tasting process is converted to foam trapped on the espresso.

So if you're trying to get an accurate fixed volume of 60ml for a double espresso, most of the volume will be gas and foam rather than liquid.

On the other hand, if you brew an espresso using coffee that has been stale longer, it will have less CO2.

This means that you will produce essentially the same looking espresso shots with very different recipes.

That's why baristas choose to use coffee scales for greater accuracy (and accountability) when measuring espresso shots.

I'm sure you'll be dizzy with your newfound knowledge, but let's get back to the same page.

For the sake of argument, let's say a double shot of espresso averages 35 grams – if we take into account the cream excess calculation mentioned above.

Like this.

Coffee scale measurement: 14g of coffee will produce 35g of espresso (1.2 mass ounces).

Visual measurement: 14 g of coffee will produce 60 ml of espresso (2 fluid ounces).

Both of the above calculations are correct. But we are trying to communicate between the traditional measuring method and the more precise modern method.

It is difficult to convey what we mean, and even harder to do so when we have conflicting measurements.

Why So Much Confusion?

Confusion is created because there is no set standard for single or double espresso shots.

You will find that some cafes will claim to double their espresso shot just because they use more than 14 grams of coffee.

Others will say theirs is double theirs because they split the espresso shot in half with a split portafilter.

You can see how everything becomes confusing not only for the customer but also for the barista.

Preliminary Use of Scale emi (Ratio by Weight)

Use a coffee scale with a simple brew ratio to eliminate confusion about the weight and measure of ground espresso.

Any coffee scale will be better than no scale.

It comes with all the functionality you need, and I've found it fits perfectly in almost any drip tray I've tested on it.

Why Is Brew Ratio Important?

Brewing rates are important because they provide a way to manage, monitor, and more importantly replicate the desired flavor of your espresso.

The brewing rate of coffee is a vital factor to keep under control because it gives you the exact recipe for extracting your coffee grounds with your water.

More pressurized water into your coffee grounds means more coffee grounds will dissolve. This is what is known as subtraction.

It's a three-part process. As you increase the amount of water used for brewing and increase your extraction, you will decrease your espresso relative strength as it will become more diluted.

Therefore, when looking for your extraction, you need to find the "sweet spot" between the weight of your ground coffee and the weight of your beverage.

You want to find a range that provides a well-balanced taste and mouthfeel, where your shot isn't under-extracted or over-diluted.

With so much confusion surrounding single and double espresso shots, I think it's time we stopped carrying the word "double or single espresso".

The next time you order a drink from your favorite coffee shop, ask, “Can I have a double espresso? Oh, by the way, what's your brew rate?”.

Any barista of value can tell you the details that really matter.


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