Single vs Double Shot Espresso: The Comparison

Once you turn your everyday caffeine habit into passion, you realize that exploring the vast world of coffee can be quite intriguing.

Understanding something seemingly simple as the difference between single vs. double shot of espresso can get you to learn a lot about coffee extraction.

‘Solo’ and ‘doppio’ shots, as Italians call them, are key components of staple drinks, such as lattes, americanos, and flat whites. But do you actually know what a double shot means and how it compares to a single espresso?

Well, their differences have to do with volume, caffeine content, grams of ground coffee, the used type of portafilter basket, and the extraction time.

So without further ado, let’s dive in.

Differences Between Single vs. Double Espresso Shots

It’s worth noting that single and double espresso shots are prepared differently in different coffee shops and cafès.

There is variability when it comes to the coffee-to-water ratio and the overall technique that the barista uses to dial in the perfect shot.

With that being said, there is a traditional definition that describes single and double espresso shots.

Said definition is used by coffee aficionados around the world as a basic guideline. It helps them prepare well-balanced and satisfying coffee drinks.

So here’s a comparison overview of single shot vs. double shot of espresso:
The single espresso shot is traditionally made with 7 grams to 8 grams of ground coffee and yields 25 ml to 30 ml (1 fl. oz.) of espresso.

A double espresso shot is prepared with 14 to 16 grams of coffee and yields 50 ml to 60 ml (2 fl. oz.) of espresso.

The standard espresso coffee-to-water ratio is 1:2. This means that a single espresso shot weighs between 14 grams and 16 grams, while a double – 28 grams to 32 grams.

Since it’s prepared with a higher coffee dose, a double espresso shot contains more caffeine compared to a single shot.

The ideal extraction time for both single and double espresso shots is within the range of 22 to 28 seconds.

In the following picture you can see a comparison chart that shows the differences between a single and a double shot of espresso:
A comparison chart, showing the differences between single and double espresso shots.

Single vs. Double Portafilter Baskets

A double espresso is usually made with a double portafilter basket.

This type of basket generally holds between 14 grams and 18 grams of ground coffee.

A single shot can be made with a single portafilter basket that has a lower capacity of 7 grams to 12 grams.

With that being said, more often than not, in busy coffee shops and cafes, the single shots are made with double portafilter baskets with two spouts.
A photo of the spouts of a single and a double portafilter baskets.

The double shot is split in two, which lets the barista pull two single shots at a time.

Author’s Note: You’d rarely see a barista using a single portafilter in a coffee shop.

This is so, as dosing and tamping require more effort when using the narrow-shaped single basket.

It’s somewhat hard to be precise when adding the grounds and distributing them.

Because of the design of a single basket, its use would often lead to channeling and uneven extraction, which isn’t ideal.

Therefore, even if it’s not busy, and you order one espresso shot, the barista will likely use the double portafilter.

He’d pull 2 single shots, and hand you over just one of them.
A photo of how two single shots being made with a double portafilter basket.
The extra shots are either consumed by employees or poured into ice trays.

The espresso ice cubes are later used for refreshing iced coffee drinks with milk.

For that very reason, lattes and mochas are often made with double espresso shots.

This results in a more intense coffee flavor. Nevertheless, you may be trying to lower your caffeine consumption.

If that’s the case, when you make your order, you can ask the barista to prepare your beverage with a single espresso shot.

Related Post: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized Portafilter

Caffeine content

When discussing the single vs. double espresso shot differences, it’s expected to ask which one is stronger in terms of caffeine.

The thing is that the amount of caffeine varies depending on various factors, such as the type of coffee beans.

For example, Robusta beans are two times stronger compared to Arabica beans.

With that being said it’s safe to say that a doppio espresso contains more caffeine compared to a solo. After all, it’s made with twice the amount of ground coffee.

So here’s the caffeine content comparison between single and double espresso shots:

A single espresso shot contains between 62.8 mg and 76 mg of caffeine.

A double espresso shot contains between 125 mg and 150 mg of caffeine.

Related Post: Which Coffee Has The Most Caffeine?

Singe and Double Espresso: Volume and Weight

Usually, when we’re talking about drinks and their characteristics, we tend to discuss their volume.

Nevertheless, in the world of coffee brewing, and even more so when it comes to espresso, coffee aficionados tend to pay closer attention to weight, not volume.

But why is that?

A shot of espresso usually has a layer of crema on its surface.

The amount of crema varies, depending on various factors.

For example, if the coffee beans are freshly roasted, the layer will be thicker.

The espresso crema can take a significant portion of your shot’s volume, but it doesn’t carry a lot of information about coffee extraction.

Therefore, passionate baristas would use a coffee scale to measure the espresso yield when pulling single and double shots. This way they get consistent results.
A photo of two single shots being made with a scale and a double portafilter with two spouts.

Fun Fact: A standard shot of alcohol is 1.5 fluid ounces (44 ml.).

It’s also worth noting that the espresso coffee-to-water ratio varies from one coffee shop to another.

Even though the traditional espresso is made with a 1:2 ratio, at many specialty coffee shops the baristas pull longer shots.

Related Post: Ristretto vs. Espresso vs. Lungo: The Comparison

For example, at the coffee shop I worked at, we’d often use 18 grams of ground coffee to pull a 48 grams double espresso shot. In other words, I was preparing the espresso with a ratio of 1:2.6.

The espresso, made with the lightly roasted specialty coffee beans that we used, had a much more balanced flavor when the shot was a bit longer.

Actually, we’d often adjust the coffee dose and the extraction time, according to the flavor profile and the roast level of the coffee beans.

So if you’re trying to pull the perfect espresso shot at home, always take into consideration the characteristics of the coffee beans you’re using.

Feel free to adjust the ratio and extraction time to achieve the best results. Of course, you can use the espresso standards as basic guidelines.

Extraction Time

According to the espresso standards, both single and double espresso shots should be pulled within 25 seconds (+-3 seconds).

The extraction time can be quite helpful when trying to dial in the perfect solo or doppio shot.

For example, if it takes 18 seconds to pull a double shot that is, say, 50 ml and 40 grams, then your coffee beans are likely ground too coarse.

This results in espresso that is too weak and under-extracted. If you make proper adjustments and grind finer, you will get to pull the shot within the ideal range of 22 to 28 seconds.

With that being said, if you enjoy the flavor of an espresso shot that took only 20 seconds, don’t worry about the faster pull.

After all, there are no strict rules in the world of coffee.

It’s all about the flavor and your personal preference!

Final Words

Looking into the single vs. double espresso shot comparison is fundamental if you’ve decided to learn more about the world of coffee.

Knowing the differences between ‘solo’ and ‘doppio’ is quite useful, even if you aren’t planning on making espresso at home. After all, this knowledge will explain what goes into your caffeinated beverage when you order a latte at your favorite coffee shop.

Anyway, I hope that in this article you found helpful information and useful tips that will guide you through your coffee journey.

Leave me a comment below if you have any further questions related to the topic!

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