We get asked the question “how much is a shot of espresso?” all the time. As more and more people start to make coffee at home using high-end espresso machines, we get asked more and more questions about how to get it right.
So we thought it would be a good idea to cover the answers to a lot of these questions in one place – this article. We hope you find the answer that you’re looking for.
How much water should go into an espresso?
The standard answer to this is that an espresso should be 30ml, or one fluid ounce – with a double shot therefore being 60ml, or two fluid ounces. If you put more water through than this you will find your coffee is a bit weak, and if you don’t have enough, the coffee will be too bitter.
As with most things to do with making great coffee, though, there is a bit more to it than that…
Every coffee will have a slightly different reaction to the water, so you may find that some will give you a stronger coffee with the same amount of water than others. The key is in the colour. While you are extracting the coffee, watch for the colour of the coffee coming out. You want a brown hazelnut colour – when it starts to go lighter, you have extracted as much flavour out of the coffee as you are going to get and it’s time to stop.
This is part of what makes a great barista – the ability to read a coffee and know the exact point that the extraction should be stopped.
How much coffee should go into an espresso?
Let’s start with the standard answer again – the standard amount of coffee in a single espresso should be around 18-21 grams, which you should double to 36-42 grams for a double shot.
Again, of course, it really does depend on what coffee you are using. You will find that some, more bitter, coffees are better at the lower end of the scale, while others will need that little bit more to give your drink a deep enough flavour.
The beauty of making your own coffee is that you can experiment. You won’t be able to nail it the first time with a new coffee, it will take a little bit of time – look for that colour change and you won’t go far wrong.
What is the best ratio of water and coffee for an espresso?
The best ratio of coffee to liquid (as in how much coffee you put in compared to the amount of liquid you get out) is around 1:1.5.
To put this in practical terms, if you are making an espresso using 18 grams of coffee grounds, you should stop the extraction process when you have 27 grams of liquid (this equates to 30ml or 1 fluid ounce).
Obviously it is difficult to know when you have 27 grams of liquid, so it is best to convert this into millilitres or fluid ounces before you start the process.
What grind size should I have for an espresso?
When you are making an espresso, or any coffee for that matter, it is always best you grind your beans just before you start the brewing process. This is the only way to ensure that the coffee is as fresh as possible, and how fresh your coffee is will have a huge impact on the taste of your drink. Fresh is best.
So once you have that sorted, you’ll need to know how fine to grind your coffee. Different methods of making coffee require different sizes of coffee grounds to work with. When you are using a filter coffee machine, for example, the water tends to flood the coffee and then slowly drip through – this works best with a coarse grind size as if it is too fine, the coffee is over extracted and you will get a really bitter tasting coffee.
For an espresso, though, the water is pushed through the coffee with high pressure – it is forced through quickly. As such, you want a fine sized coffee grain so that the water has more surface area to work with. You don’t want any blockages as the water passes through, it needs to just rush on by.
The perfect size for a grain is around 0.8mm, if you have a grinder with that amount of accuracy – or simply ‘Fine’ if not.
What type of coffee is best for an espresso?
We could write a 5,000 word article on this subject, but just to show our versatility, we will attempt to give you a snappy answer here.
As a general rule, a darker roast is better for espressos. These coffees tend to give you sharper, more bold flavours which tends to work better with the method of making espressos. As the water passes through the coffee very quickly, if you have a more subtle tasting coffee, you can find that your espresso ends up tasting too mild.
Of course, there are plenty of coffees out there that go against this general rule – there are some incredible blonde espressos out there that are packed full of flavour.
How do I make the best espresso?
If you follow the rough advice on this page, you will make a good start to making the best espresso for your taste, but our ultimate one-word piece of advice is this:
The beauty of the coffee industry today is that there are so many companies, big and small, doing incredible things with coffee. So many different coffees, using beans from all over the world, being roasted in new and imaginative ways, to create wonderful new flavours.
Focus on the basics to begin with, but as soon as you feel confident enough, get out there and start taking advantage of the most exciting coffee market the world has ever seen. You’re ultimate espresso is out there, it’s up to you to find it.