Did you know that you can customize the espresso brewing process to make different types of espresso? Yes, most espresso machines and espresso-style coffee makers such as Nespresso have functions and customizations for making different types of espresso shots.
The most common types of espresso are espresso ristretto, lungo, and regular espresso. They differ in volume, the amount of caffeine, and flavor profile. Each espresso type can have single, double, or triple shots of coffee. Generally, the caffeine levels rise with the number of shots.
When discussing the ounces in a shot of espresso, it is important to identify the type of espresso in question.
The type of espresso that you make depends on factors such as the type of coffee beans, the desired flavors, the type of espresso coffee maker, the grinder, and the altitude at which the espresso is pulled.
This blog post discusses the coffee volume in different types of espresso, their differences, and how they are made.
How Much is a Shot of Espresso?
A single shot of espresso is one fluid ounce and is made with about 7 grams of ground coffee.
Due to its small volume, espresso is served in small cups which are known as demitasse cups or espresso cups. Espresso can be served alone or whitened with milk or milk substitutes to make tall coffee drinks such as lattes and mocha.
Espresso is usually pulled from medium and darker roasts although some people swear by blonde espresso which is made from lighter roasts.
Given that there are different types of espresso shots with different coffee volumes, the table below shows how many ounces are in each type of espresso.
|Grams of Ground Coffee
|Coffee Volume (Ounces)
|Brew Time (Seconds)
|Single shot espresso
|Double shot (Doppio)
Ristretto vs Espresso vs Lungo
The main difference between a ristretto, espresso, and lungo is that a ristretto uses less water and yields less amount of coffee than both espresso and lungo. Ristretto uses a brew ratio of 1:1 which means that the water input is equal to the coffee yield. This enhances the strength and sweetness of the brew.
On the other hand, espresso uses a water-to-coffee ratio of 1:2 which yields a more balanced flavor whereas a lungo uses more hot water in a 1:3 coffee ratio. Therefore, a lungo yields more coffee which is bitter than both ristretto and regular espresso.
Traditionally, ristretto, espresso, and lungo used the same quantity of coffee grounds and had the same extraction time. Only the grind size was adjusted to regulate the amount of water in order to achieve the desired coffee ratio and flavor profile.
Ristretto is Italian for restricted. Water is restricted from flowing through the coffee grounds to yield a shot of coffee that is shorter and sweeter than espresso. Half the amount of water for a classic espresso is used to make a ristretto.
Lungo is Italian for a long. Lungo is a long shot of espresso that is made by allowing more water to flow through the coffee grounds at high pressure to yield more ounces of coffee than regular espresso.
Doppio is a double-shot of espresso that uses double the amount of ground coffee for a single shot to yield two fluid ounces of espresso.
A triple-shot of the espresso is about three ounces and uses 18-21 grams of coffee beans
Why Single Espresso is no Longer Popular
Why are espresso singles not as popular as they once were?
Most coffee shops use double shots of espresso (doppio) as the standard serving size and, sometimes, triple shots to make extra-strong espresso drinks. Unless you categorically order an espresso drink with one shot of espresso, most coffee shops will make the drink with at least two shots even for their smallest cup size.
Moreover, newer espresso machines do not include single-shot portafilters in their shipments so most people end up getting used to pulling double or triple shots. Increasingly, it is difficult to find replacement espresso baskets and portafilters that are specifically made to carry 7 grams of ground coffee.
Newer espresso baskets and portafilters are available in sizes that are bigger than the traditional single-and-double-shot sizes.
Now that we are talking about filter baskets, here is an article that compares pressurized espresso baskets to nonpressurized baskets.
Flavor Profiles for Espresso, Ristretto, and Lungo
Espresso is more balanced with a full body and some bitter notes due to the thick crema. Espresso is ideal for drinking on its own as well as making coffee beverages with milk such as undertow coffee, latte, and mocha
Ristretto is more intense, aromatic, and sweeter than espresso. It also has less crema and bitterness. It has slightly more caffeine concentration (caffeine per ounce) than both espresso and lungo. Caffeine is one of the first compounds to dissolve in water during extraction.
A ristretto is an excellent choice when using coffee beans that have floral notes. Flat white from Starbucks is a popular drink that gets ristretto espresso.
Lungo has higher overall caffeine content, more bitterness, and smoky flavors than both espresso and ristretto.
For more insight about espresso, read this interesting post about whether espresso expires.
Extraction Methods For Ristretto, Espresso, and Lungo
There are two different ways of customizing your espresso brewing method to make a ristretto or lungo.
1. How to Adjust the Grind Size to Make Ristretto and Lungo
The basic principle of the traditional method of making an espresso, ristretto, and lungo is that the time of extraction and dosage remains unchanged. The grind size regulates the quantity of water that flows through the grounds within the set brew time.
For example, for a single ristretto shot, dial in 7 grams of coffee and grind to a finer than espresso size so that the extraction takes 20-30 seconds to yield a half-ounce cup of coffee.
For a single shot of lungo, dial in 7 grams of coffee beans and grind coarser so that the coffee puck allows more water to flow through in the normal brewing time of 20-30 seconds to yield 1.5 ounces of coffee. The same practice applies to the double and triple shots.
- No need to recalibrate the coffee maker as adjustments only apply to the grinder
- Can be laborious in a busy setting where you have to constantly change the grinder settings for different types of espresso-style shots
2. How to Make Ristretto and Lungo by Adjusting the Brew Time
Some coffee enthusiasts advocate for reducing the espresso brew time by 50% and increasing it by 50% for ristretto and lungo respectively without changing the dosage and the grind size.
A single ristretto, therefore, uses the same 7 grams of coffee and espresso grind size but the extraction is stopped midway (12-15 seconds).
The extraction of a single lungo is longer (about 45 seconds) than the espresso brew time but uses the same dosage (about 7 grams) and espresso grind size.
- It eliminates the need to constantly recalibrate the grinder
- It’s easy and fast as you just focus on the extraction time
- Under extraction. Manually stopping the extraction midway to make a ristretto inhibits the extraction of some of the coffee solubles that take longer to extract. The coffee yield may lack some desirable coffee compounds
- It may require calibrating the espresso machine, especially, for a lungo unless the machine has a dedicated lungo function
The classic espresso is about one ounce and two ounces for a single shot and doppio respectively. Ristretto and lungo are customizations of the classic espresso.
They are made by adjusting the grind size or the brew time such that less water is added in the case of a ristretto and more water in the case of a lungo.
The coffee yield for a ristretto is about half that of espresso whereas a lungo yields 33% more coffee than espresso.
FAQs About the Ounces in a Shot of Espresso
How Many Fluid Ounces is a Starbucks’ Espresso Shot?
A single shot of Starbucks espresso is one fluid ounce. In some stores, an espresso shot can range from 0.75 to 1.25 fluid ounces depending on the calibration of the espresso machine.
How Many Cups of Coffee are Equal to One Shot of Espresso?
Generally, two-thirds to a full 8 oz cup of coffee is equivalent to one shot of espresso as they have comparable caffeine content for the same type of coffee beans.