What is considered 1 shot of espresso?

Quick Answer

The standard amount of espresso considered a single shot is generally between 25-30ml or 0.85-1oz. However, the exact amount can vary slightly depending on the coffee shop, barista, or espresso machine. The key factors that determine shot volume are the grind size, dose of coffee, and pressure used during extraction. Ultimately, a single espresso shot aims to produce approximately 30ml of concentrated, flavorful liquid coffee.

What is a Standard Shot of Espresso?

A standard single shot of espresso is widely regarded as being 25-30ml (0.85-1oz). The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) defines a single shot as 25-35ml, so most baristas aim for 30ml as the target volume.

This amount is generally achieved using 14-18 grams of finely ground coffee, extracted by an espresso machine under 9 bars of pressure for approximately 25-30 seconds. The resulting liquid should be thick and syrupy in texture, with a layer of golden crema foam on top.

The volume is measured by the output from the espresso machine’s portafilter, either into a demitasse cup or shot glass. A single shot basket in the portafilter holds enough ground coffee to produce one serving. When extracted correctly, the espresso will fill the cup to an appropriate level for a single serving.

Factors That Affect Shot Volume

Several key factors can lead to slight variations in the final volume of an espresso shot:

Grind Size

The coarseness or fineness of the coffee grind makes a big difference. Finer grinds create more resistance in the portafilter, resulting in slower extraction and lower volumes. Coarser grinds allow for faster extraction and higher volumes. Most baristas will adjust the grind to achieve the ideal 25-30ml.

Coffee Dose

The amount of ground coffee packed into the portafilter also impacts shot volume. More ground coffee provides more solubles during extraction, increasing shot volume. Less ground coffee does the opposite. A double shot basket usually holds 18-21 grams of coffee.

Tamping Pressure

The amount of pressure used when tamping down the coffee can affect resistance and extraction flow rate. Harder tamping slows down extraction, while lighter tamping speeds it up. Tamping consistently to an even level helps achieve the intended volume.

Water Pressure

Standard espresso machines use pump pressure around 9 bars to extract the coffee. Higher pressure forces more water through the coffee faster, resulting in larger shot volumes. Lower pressure extracts slower for smaller volumes.

Extraction Time

The length of time water interacts with the coffee during extraction impacts volume. Shorter times around 20 seconds often produce smaller shot volumes, while longer times around 30 seconds lead to larger volumes.

Machine Calibration

Each espresso machine is calibrated slightly differently at the factory or by technicians. Following standard guidelines, technicians will make adjustments to program brewing parameters like pressure, temperature, and volume.

Ideal Volume for a Single Shot

The specialty coffee community generally agrees that 25-30ml provides the ideal volume for a single shot of espresso. This amount satisfies customer expectations while also allowing baristas to achieve the proper coffee extraction and flavor.

Key reasons why 25-30ml is considered an ideal single shot volume:

Fills A Standard Espresso Cup

A single shot of 25-30ml will appropriately fill a standard 60-90ml demitasse cup used for espresso. This leaves room at the top for crema without overflowing the cup.

Provides Full Espresso Flavor

The concentrated 25-30ml shot will provide the characteristic rich, bold espresso flavor that customers expect. Shorter shots may taste weak or under-extracted. Longer shots may taste bitter or over-extracted.

Easy to Consume While Hot

A single espresso shot is intended to be consumed immediately while still hot. The 25-30ml amount can be consumed comfortably before cooling too drastically. Larger volumes become inconvenient to finish quickly.

Standard Dose and Extraction Parameters

The 14-18g coffee dose and 25-30 second extraction time needed to produce 25-30ml align with widely accepted standards for single shot parameters. Deviation can lead to undesirable flavor results.

Consistent Serving Size

A standardized 25-30ml single shot allows customers to compare espresso between different cafes, and allows baristas to consistently prepare the same size drink. This helps set clear consumer expectations.

How Much Caffeine is in a Single Shot?

The amount of caffeine in a single espresso shot depends on several factors, but generally ranges from 47-75mg:

Espresso Shot Volume Typical Caffeine Range
25ml (0.85oz) 47-64mg
30ml (1oz) 56-75mg

This can vary based on:

– Coffee origin and varietal – Arabicas contain less caffeine than Robustas

– Roast level – Light roasts have slightly more caffeine than dark roasts

– Grind size – Finer grinds lead to higher extraction of caffeine

– Coffee dose – More ground coffee contains more caffeine

– Individual metabolism – People process caffeine differently

Compared to brewed coffee, espresso has significantly higher caffeine content by volume due to its concentration and extraction process. But in a typical serving size, espresso generally has less caffeine, since a single shot is much smaller than a standard 8oz mug of drip coffee.

Double Shot vs Single Shot

Many coffee shops offer the option to order a double shot of espresso in larger drink sizes. This contains twice the amount of coffee and water:

Shot Type Coffee Dose Volume
Single Shot 14-18g 25-30ml
Double Shot 28-36g 50-60ml

A double shot approximately doubles the concentration, body, and flavor compared to a single. It also nearly doubles the amount of caffeine. Drinks like cappuccinos and lattes often default to double shots to provide a bolder, more potent coffee taste.

Some cafes may offer a “triple shot” with even more coffee, or a “half shot” at half the standard single dose. But the single and double shot remain the most popular options.

Ristretto vs. Lungo

Ristretto and lungo are two other types of espresso shots that vary the volume:

– Ristretto: Uses the same amount of coffee as a single shot, but extracted with less water for a 20-30ml yield. Offers more concentrated flavor.

– Lungo: Uses the same amount of coffee but extracts more water, yielding a 30-45ml shot. Tastes less intense.

These provide different flavor profiles, but the standard single shot at 25-30ml remains the norm on most coffee menus. Ristretto and lungo are considered variations.

When to Drink an Espresso Shot

Espresso shots are most commonly consumed in the morning as a breakfast drink or pick-me-up, but they can be enjoyed any time of day.

Here are some popular times and scenarios for drinking a shot of espresso:

Breakfast or Brunch

A single espresso shot is a quick way to start your morning alongside breakfast food like pastries, eggs, or avocado toast. The small serving can provide an energy boost without overwhelming your palate.


The post-lunch afternoon slump is a perfect time for an espresso pick-me-up. The short caffeine hit can help you power through the rest of the workday.

Evening Dessert

After dinner, an espresso shot can serve as a nice dessert substitute to finish a meal. The bold, bitter flavor profiles pair well with sweet treats too.


College students often rely on late night espresso shots like Red Bull to study or write papers. The concentrated caffeine dose helps sustain focus and energy.

Ordering Espresso at Coffee Shops

Here are some tips for ordering a single espresso shot at cafes or coffee shops:

– Specify “single shot” or “solo” to avoid confusion with larger drink orders

– Indicate your preferred roast level such as light, medium, or dark

– Request your coffee origin if you have a preferred bean or region

– Ask about any limited-edition or seasonal espresso offerings

– Inquire about fair trade, direct trade, or other sustainability practices

– Choose between hot and iced preparation

– Customize with milk, sweeteners, or flavor as desired

– Ask to see the crema and visually inspect the quality

– Sip slowly and savor the flavor notes and textural experience

Being clear and communicative will help ensure you receive the perfect single espresso shot to enjoy.

Making Espresso Shots at Home

It’s possible to brew quality espresso shots at home with the right equipment:

Espresso Machine

You’ll need a pump-driven espresso machine capable of generating at least 9 bars of pressure and heating to about 200°F. More affordable options include the Breville Bambino and Rancilio Silvia. Higher-end machines like La Marzocco and Slayer will provide commercial quality.

Coffee Grinder

A burr coffee grinder that allows fine grind size adjustment is essential for grinding beans into an espresso-fine powder. Conical or flat burr grinders from Baratza, Breville, and Rancilio are excellent choices.


Using a small gram scale ensures you measure an exact dose of ground coffee for consistency. The Acaia Lunar is a high-precision option made specifically for espresso.


A steel tamper presses the ground coffee into a dense, even puck for optimal extraction. It should match the diameter of your filter basket. Motta, Rattleware, and Normcore make quality tampers.

Knock Box

This receptacle collects spent coffee grounds knocked out of the portafilter after extraction. Most attach to the countertop within reach of your machine.

Milk Frothing Pitcher

If making milk drinks, you’ll need a stainless steel pitcher designed to steam and froth milk. Choose a size that matches your typical drink volume.

With the right gear and some practice, you can achieve cafe-quality espresso at home. Focus on using freshly roasted beans, dialing in your grind size, and mastering your chosen machine’s controls.

Common Espresso Drinks

While espresso shots are delicious on their own, they are also the base for many popular coffeehouse drinks:


Consists of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foamed milk. Generally a double shot topped with 4-6oz milk in a 6-8oz cup.


Made with 3-4oz of steamed milk and 1-2 shots of espresso in an 8-12oz cup. Less foam than a cappuccino. Often flavored with vanilla or caramel.


Espresso shots topped up with hot water for dilution into a long black coffee. Varies from a single to quadruple shot depending on size.


A single or double espresso shot “marked” with just a dollop of foamed milk or milk froth on top. Maintains the espresso flavor.


Combines espresso with steamed milk and chocolate syrup. Typically made with chocolate powder or ganache, not just cocoa powder.


Meaning “cut” in Spanish, a double espresso shot cut with an equal amount of warm milk to reduce acidity. Typically served in a 3-4oz glass.

Flat White

Originating in Australia and New Zealand, similar to a small latte but with slightly less microfoam and more velvety steamed milk.


In summary, a standard single espresso shot is widely considered to be 25-30ml prepared using approximately 14-18 grams of finely ground coffee beans extracted as a concentrated liquid under pressure. This amount has become the industry norm for achieving the ideal espresso flavor, texture, and experience customers expect. Though the exact volume may vary slightly based on specific equipment and methods, a 30ml single shot remains the typical target serve.

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