As a specialty coffee barista, discovering the art of how to pull an espresso shot is where my passion for coffee first bloomed.
If you’re a coffee lover and espresso novice, learning how to make a single and double espresso shot at home is so rewarding.
These concentrated coffee espresso shots are known for their intense flavors and can be enjoyed on their own or used as a base for various espresso-based beverages.
In this guide, we’ll explore the step-by-step process for creating espresso singles and double espressos and the key elements that contribute to their distinctive qualities. I am excited to share my technique and practice with you, so let’s go!
What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial
To learn how to pull good espresso shots with me, you’ll need the following:
- Fresh whole coffee beans: Choose high-quality coffee beans for the best flavor.
- Espresso machine: An espresso machine capable of maintaining the correct pressure and temperature.
- Coffee grinder: A grinder to finely grind the coffee beans.
- Portafilter: The component of the espresso machine that holds the coffee grounds.
- Tamper: A tool used to evenly compact the coffee grinds in the portafilter.
- Scale: You’ll need a coffee scale to accurately measure the coffee dose.
- Water: Filtered water is recommended for better taste.
Now let’s dive into the step-by-step instructions for how to pull an espresso shot.
How To Pull Single Espresso Shots
Let me introduce you to some espresso terminology.
A single espresso shot, usually referred to as an espresso single or a solo shot, is a particular serving size of espresso that customers at the cafe I work at frequently request.
Single shot espresso is made from roughly 6-8 grams of finely ground coffee beans. It is famous for its strong flavor and intense qualities and is often brewed using a specialist espresso machine. A single shot often serves as the base for coffee and milk drinks, but people love to have it by itself as well for a quick caffeine boost.
Here is how to pull an espresso shot properly:
Step 1: Grinding
Start by grinding fresh coffee beans to the proper consistency for espresso. The grind size is crucial for achieving the right extraction rate and flavor profile.
Step 2: Dosing
Precisely weigh the ground coffee to ensure the correct dose—mine is an Acaia Pearl coffee scale—typically around 6-8 grams for a single. Pour the measured coffee into the portafilter of your espresso machine.
An important note: Since I am using a professional machine, it has a double portafilter. This means it always brews double shots, so I always use 18 grams of espresso. If you have a single portafilter, use the 6-8 grams mentioned here.)
Step 3: Tamping
Use a tamper to evenly and firmly compact the coffee grinds in the portafilter. This step ensures proper extraction and a consistent flow of water.
Step 4: Extraction
Lock the portafilter into the espresso machine, and then pump hot water under pressure (usually 9–10 bars) through the coffee grounds. The extraction process should take about 25 to 30 seconds.
Step 5: Yield
If you’ve followed along with me on how to pull an espresso shot so far, your result is a concentrated espresso shot, usually weighing around 1 ounce (30 milliliters).
Single Espresso Tasting Notes
Espresso single is renowned for its concentrated flavor and distinctive qualities.
Due to its small serving size, single espressos are powerful. It allows the complex characteristics of the coffee beans—such as acidity, sweetness, bitterness, and fragrance—to shine.
A layer of crema, a golden-brown foam, should be visible on top of a well-made single shot. The emulsification of oils and carbon dioxide during the extraction process leads to the formation of crema, enhancing the shot’s mouthfeel and visual appeal.
Espresso singles are often perceived to have a higher caffeine content than other coffee drinks due to the extraction process. However, the actual caffeine amount can vary depending on factors like your coffee bean type.
Remember that producing a flavorful espresso single relies on the quality of the coffee beans, the consistency of the grind, the extraction conditions, and the espresso machine you use.
How to Pull Espresso Double Shots (Doppio)
A double espresso, commonly referred to as a Doppio, has more espresso than a regular single shot. When compared to a single shot, a double shot typically contains about 14 grams of finely ground coffee beans and makes twice the amount as a single shot.
Now, let’s practice how to pull an espresso shot, doppio.
Step 1: Grinding
Grind fresh coffee beans to the appropriate consistency for espresso, just like in the previous process.
Step 2: Dosing
Measure the ground coffee for the precise dose, typically around 14 grams, and add it to the portafilter.
Step 3: Tamping
Use a tamper to evenly compact the coffee grinds in the portafilter, ensuring steady water extraction and flow. In learning how to pull an espresso shot, tamping firmness is a critical area to practice on because too hard, your water won’t pulse through properly and you’ll have astringent espresso. Too light, and it’ll be watery.
Step 4: Extraction
Seal the portafilter in the espresso machine, and then push hot water through the coffee grounds under high pressure (usually 9–10 bars). The extraction process typically lasts for 20 to 30 seconds.
Step 5: Yield
A double espresso yields more than a single shot, usually around 2 ounces (60 milliliters).
Double Espresso Tasting Notes
Double shots share similarities with single espresso but also have a few distinctions:
Strength and Concentration
Definitely keep this in mind while practicing how to pull an espresso shot: Double espresso is known for being intense. With more coffee and caffeine, it tastes twice as assertive as a single shot.
Similar to espresso single, a properly prepared double espresso should feature a layer of crema, enhancing its overall flavor, texture, and visual appeal.
Double shots serve as an excellent base for various espresso-based beverages. They can be enjoyed on their own or used to create drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, and Americanos, by adding more water or milk according to preference.
Whether you prefer espresso single or double espresso, mastering the art of how to pull espresso shots will pay off in the long run of your relationship with coffee. Experiment with different coffee beans, grinds, and extraction techniques to find your perfect cup.
About the Espresso Machine I’m Using: The Iberital Expression Pro
BTW, the espresso machine that we use where I work as a barista is an Iberital Expression Pro.
Iberital is a Spanish firm that produces the Iberital Expression Pro, a commercial espresso machine that’s popular here in Bucharest. The Expression Pro was one of Iberital’s flagship products. It’s crafted with strong, beautiful stainless steel and is fun to work on.
It often has two or three group heads, which enable baristas like me to make several shots of espresso at once. The machine also has a robust boiler that delivers a steady temperature for brewing, which is helpful if you’re first learning how to pull an espresso shot.
But if you need a cheaper way to make yours at home, pick one of our best espresso machines under $200.
Final Thoughts on How to Pull an Espresso Shot
Learning how to pull an espresso shot allows you to enjoy the concentrated flavors and unique qualities of these coffee shots.
By following the step-by-step instructions, using the right equipment, and paying attention to crucial factors like grind size and extraction, you can create exceptional espresso at home or in a professional setting!