Single vs Double Shot Espresso [Barista Explained!]

I’ll be using a bit of an oversimplification here, but it’s good for most coffee lovers on a practical level.

The difference between single and double espresso is that a traditional espresso SINGLE SHOT uses 7g of ESPRESSO-FINE coffee grounds, which yields about 30ml of espresso- the equivalent of about a 1-ounce liquid. In the last 80 years or so, most coffee industry professionals have just used their eyes to tell when espresso was finished while a double shot uses 14g of coffee and makes about 60ml of espresso (2 liquid ounces).

Also, With a single shot, it takes 25 seconds to brew. If you’re making 2 or more shots at the same time, they’ll each take 25 seconds. A double shot will take 50 seconds to brew.

Starbucks popularized the doppio shot in America in the 1990s, though they were not its inventors. A doppio shot (double shot) uses 14g of coffee and produces around 60ml of espresso (about 2 liquid ounces).

More and more, double shots are the standard in the United States and other countries. When you order a single espresso, it’ll be made from a double shot using a thin filter to halve the volume of coffee grounds.

Double shots are a relatively new invention that has made life easier for busy baristas. It can be difficult to detect any difference in flavor, but the introduction of this single measurement option is making a big difference.

According to, one liquid ounce of espresso can have anywhere from 30mg to 50mg of caffeine. That means that a double shot will likely have between 60mg and 100mg.

That’s the end of this simple explanation. And actually, that should be plenty for most people. However, if you’re extra sensitive to caffeine or are curious about how this could get more complicated, then keep reading on.

What do you think would happen if you used 20 grams of coffee to pull a shot?

Single Espresso Shots or Double, which is best?

  • Brewing Time & Production Process

Unless you’re shopping in specialty coffee shops, they probably use filtered machines to make their brewed coffee.

Espresso is a coffee beverage that is made by grinding together finely ground coffee beans and then extracting the flavor by pushing hot water through those grounds. The extracted liquid is espresso and can be served either iced or hot.

Espresso shots are typically brewed for between 20-30 seconds in order to extract the perfect balance of flavors. To produce too little will leave the coffee under-extracted, sour, and thin, while brewing for longer than necessary will result in weak, watery, bitter, burnt coffee. It may take some experimentation to find the perfect extraction time, but know that double espresso shots require the same amount of time as a single shot.

A double shot of espresso is prepared in the same way as a single shot, and the brew ratio of coffee to water remains 1:2. The only difference is that you need two baskets of ground coffee to create a larger drink.

Double shots make brewing coffee fast and efficient for busy baristas. They allow for twice the extraction time, meaning you can get more servings of espresso out of a small batch of coffee beans. This enables your barista to make more drinks at once.

  • Coffee and the Caffeine Content.

While the amount of caffeine in coffee varies according to the way it is prepared and the coffee beans used, the following is a general table of equivalencies:

  • 1 cup of pour-over coffee contains twice as much caffeine as an espresso shot.
  • 1 cup of drip coffee contains half as much caffeine as an espresso shot.

A single shot of espresso contains around 60 mg of caffeine. That’s twice as much as double shots, which contain about 120mg of caffeine.

A great first thing to do in the morning is a double espresso shot. It has more caffeine than a regular espresso, which means that it will get you ready for the day and wake you up without fail.

But, If you like the taste of coffee and indulge in it a few times per day, it’s best to go for just a single shot of espresso. That way, you don’t have too much caffeine building up.

  • Bad Health Aspects

Perhaps, another difference between a single and double espresso to consider is that there are more shots in the latter beverage. In other words, you may be getting a higher intake of caffeine–or even of sugar. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what looks like the healthiest option. However, there are some differences to consider:

Acid Content

Be sure to keep your acidity levels in mind when consuming foods and drinks. The level of acidity can affect your vital organs and teeth. Coffee, for example, has a pH value of around 5, depending on the variety. It is less acidic than fruit wines, beers, and juices but more acidic than tea, milk, and water.

This acidity is not detrimental to the average person’s health when consumed in moderation, but it may ‘irritate’ health conditions like acid reflux, gastric ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome. The same holds true for espresso shots – so keep an eye on how much you’re drinking!

Sugar Content

Coffee naturally contains small amounts of sugar. A single espresso has slightly more than a double, which isn’t a health issue on its own. However, many people try to combat the bitterness of lattes by adding 1-3 teaspoons of sugar.

This can be especially bad if you drink more than one coffee per day because it will add up quickly. Having too much sugar in your diet can lead to diabetes, diseases of vital organs, weight gain, and tooth issues in the long run.

  • Coffee Varieties Available

When it comes to your coffee, there are tons of choices at a cafe. Even just the beans you pick can change the taste of your drink.

Which coffees can be ordered in single or double?

All coffee shops offer a choice of coffee with single and double shots. Espresso or double espresso are the same as regular coffee, but they are slightly different types. Watch the video to learn more:

If you order a macchiato, you’ll get the same amount of espresso with a dollop of steamed milk with foam on top. You can order it as a single or as a double.

Lattes and cappuccinos are drinks that are made with a blend of steamed milk and foam on top. There is a difference between the ratio of milk to foam for each drink.

When people order a cappuccino they usually get equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. A latte has more steamed milk and only a thin layer of fluffy foam. It remains the milkiest of espresso coffees.

If you’re looking for options other than the Americano or Latte, specialty coffee shops also offer a variety of other espresso drinks to choose from.

  • Milk Options and Substitutes

These days, milk options don’t simply boil down to whether you choose whole milk or skim. While whole milk is best for coffee, the rise of other milk alternatives means that oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk are all great alternatives for those with dairy allergies.

Spelled milk (Diary-free) and nut-free is a perfect choice for coffee because, unlike almond milk, it will not overshadow the taste of coffee. It’s creamy and has a light, slightly sweet flavor that enhances your morning cup of Joe.

Single VS Double Shots: The Complicated Reality

Let’s start with this:

In today’s coffee industry, we’re starting to get creative with how we extract espresso. A lot has changed in coffee, with better equipment allowing us to pull shots differently than before.

The traditional double shot is 14 grams of coffee and produces about 60 milliliters of espresso. It seems easy enough, but we don’t like to use volume to measure our shots.

Yes, we now use mass (weight).

Espresso is made up of two ingredients: dark ground coffee, which creates the flavor, and a stretching tool. Espresso cups are designed to have 60ml of espresso with a lot of crema on top. However, when you let the crema fall apart and examine the liquid itself, it might actually only be 40-50ml of espresso.

This inconsistency is why we use scales. We measure shots using scales these days, so the consistency is always accurate. For example, that 60ml double shot of espresso? It’s about 35g on average, we say.

Let’s stay on the same page:

  • 14 grams of coffee yields 60 ml of espresso (2 liquid ounces) – visual measurement.
  • 14g of coffee yields 35g of espresso – the weight is equivalent to 1.2 oz, in the metric system

It’s true that both statements are true, but they tell different stories.

There is tension between the traditional measurement methods and the newer, more precise modern ones.

And this is just the beginning.

Three Shops, Three Shots: An Experiment

During a training session, I discovered something about the baristas.

  • Shop #1 uses 16 grams of coffee. They produce 32-gram shots (around 50 ml liquid ounces).
    • The 16g we put in, the 32g is what comes out. This is a 1:2 ratio.
  • Shop #2 uses 20 grams of coffee beans and pulls 40-gram shots (about 70 milliliters of liquid ounces).
    • The ratio here is 20g in, 40g out.
  • Shop #3 uses 20g of coffee. The amount they pull is 28g (approximately 30ml).
    • A 1:1.4 ratio (20g in, 28g out)

So here’s the question: which shop pulls double shots?

If you were to use the traditional definition, you would know that Shop #1 is the closest to the bullseye. The shop uses +2g of coffee but ends up with -10g of volume. It does end up with less volume of coffee than the others, but it is still closed.

How would you describe the shots from Shop #1 and Shop #2?

It’s a trick question. They’re all double shots.

But wait, you say. Those two shots are very different from a traditional double shot.

Yes, this is true. Very few shops use the traditional definitions of these shots.

Modern Practical Definitions

It seems a bit hard to grab, isn’t it? We’re sorry about all the confusion. Let’s wrap this up so you can get back to work.

Specialty coffee shops these days have a lot of options for pulling weird shots. New technology in scales, grinders, and espresso machines is giving us more flexibility and precision when we pull shots.

In the shop {Shop #3) used +6g of coffee and -30ml of yield, their 20g in, 28g outshot is just as good as traditional shots. I’ve actually tried it myself and it tastes very delicious.

This is because there are no clear standards for what makes a properly-made single shot versus a double.

Some shops claim their shots are double shots since they use more than 14g of coffee. Some say they pull double shots because they produce enough yield to split the shot in two with a split portafilter.

The definitions are very different from one another.

And guess what? I love it.

I love that we’re able to get a range of textures and intensities in different shots without losing quality. I like the smaller, brighter bourbons. I also enjoy drinking the bigger ones with smoother flavors. As long as the flavors are fruity, crisp, and balanced, I don’t care how they’re termed.

This can, of course, be a problem too.

ALSO SEE: How to Start a Coffee Cart Business in Australia

So How Do We Measure Caffeine?

Unfortunately, our love of great-tasting coffee comes at the cost of caffeine confidence.

There have been zero studies done to determine the effect on caffeine intake when considering different shot recipes. So, while I wish I could give you a clear answer here, I can’t.

I can tell you a secret though:

In the majority of shots, caffeine comes out at the beginning.

That’s because total caffeine content is only a small part of what really determines the quality of coffee. More important than the total yield is the amount of coffee in the portafilter.

So, If a traditional double shot of espresso has 60-100mg of caffeine, it’s likely that a modern double shot with more coffee grounds will have a bit more caffeine. Most shops use 16-20g of coffee in their doubles.

The coffee world is constantly evolving, and new flavors and varieties are being created every day. It’s easy to get confused about espresso preparation, but knowledge can be power.

And yeah, it’s unfortunate that the traditional definition of singles and doubles has sort of lost validity, but it’s a trade-off I’m willing to make.

If you’re new to making espresso drinks at home and you are tasting different blends of coffee, you’ll probably want to adjust the yield and grind size. This will give you a much more hands-on experience with the blending process.

Of course, though, if you are using low-quality beans and old beans you won’t have any fun exploring single and double shots because there will be no flavor to explore.

Is a shot of espresso the same size as a shot of alcohol?

A shot of espresso is 30 ml (1 fluid ounce), whereas a shot of alcohol is 44 ml (1.5 fluid ounces).

How many shots of espresso are in a regular latte?

Lattes are the richest coffee option on the menu. Two-thirds of it is steamed milk, poured over a shot of espresso and topped with a layer of milk foam; this is what gives them their distinctive golden brown color.

The number of espresso shots in a latte depends on the size ordered. A small latte will have one shot of espresso. Bigger cups, like the large size, will have two shots of espresso.

Does a ristretto shot have more caffeine than espresso?

Ristretto and espresso coffee has the same amount of coffee grounds, but ristretto tastes stronger because a different brew ratio is used. This results in less water being used to extract the coffee.

Is it a short black one or two shots?

A short black has one shot of a very strong, concentrated cup of espresso that does not have any water or milk added. Short blacks are great for those seeking intense coffee to get them going.

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