Espresso Shot Defined

Espresso is referred to a concentrated coffee drink as well as a brewing method. Finely ground coffee, tamped with 30 or so pounds of pressure, pre-infused with nearly boiling water to “wet” the coffee and then is extracted within 20 to 30 seconds under a minimal 9-bar pump pressure. What you get is an elixir with hazelnut brown color, syrupy texture topped with 3 to 4 mm thick crema. A perfect espresso is a feast for all your senses: sight, smell, touch and taste.

As if the brewing process is not complicated and delicate enough, then you’d come across terms to describe the espresso size like single, double or triple shot  and length such as ristretto, normale, or lungo. If you are not totally confused by now, you must be the exception.

Espresso Shot Size

A single shot of espresso is defined as 1 US fluid ounce shot, a double as 2 and a triple as 3 (approx. 30, 60 or 90 ml). Each shot size contains a proportioned amount of ground coffee. For example, a single shot has 7 grams, a double 14 and triple 21.

Espresso Length

Another set of terms tossed around is the length of the shot as “ristretto” (reduced), “normale” (normal/standard) or “lungo” (long/stretched). These correspond to different volume sizes of the drink with the same amount of ground coffee and same level of extraction.

A ristretto uses the same amount of ground coffee as espresso but with much less water (50% less). A double shot of espresso is about 2 fluid ounces and a double ristretto is 1 to 1.5 fl. oz. The result is a super-short and very intense shot of espresso.

A normale shot is just a different name for a regular espresso with 7 grams of coffee to produce 1 ounce of espresso.

A lungo is a long espresso with the same dose of ground coffee but twice the usual volume of water. For instance, a single shot of espresso requires 7 grams of coffee that yields about 1 fl. ounce of espresso. A lungo shot brews about 2 ounces of coffee that’s less intense in coffee strength with slightly more bitter taste due to the longer extraction time.

Don’t be confused Lungo with the popular Americano. Americano is done with a shot or two espresso topped with up to 16 ounces of hot water. The right sequence should be espresso on the bottom with hot water added to it.

Remember nothing is set in stone. You are free to tweak both the coffee amount and water to please your taste buds.

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