Single Shot Vs Double Espresso Shots – BaristaHQ

When ordering at a coffee shop, you may have heard the words single espresso shot and double espresso shot being used and found yourself confused. 

An espresso is a method of brewing coffee into a concentrated form known as an espresso shot.

It has a rich, intense flavor and it's used as the base of many different types of espresso coffee, with varying amounts of water and milk used.   

In this article, we will explore the differences between the two and help you decide which it the best option for you to start your day with.  

1. Production Process & Brewing Time 

Unless you're in specialty coffee shops the chances are that they're using espresso machines for their brewed coffee. 

An espresso machine is used to extract the flavor from coffee beans and create espresso shots. Hot water is pressurized through a ‘puck’ of ground coffee beans, and filtered through a single or double shot basket.

Single shots are brewed with a single shot basket, and two single shots with a double shot basket. Either way the end result is a concentrated coffee called espresso. 

Espresso shots take between 20-30 seconds to extract. If brewed too short, the coffee will be under extracted and too thin and sour.

If brewed too long, the coffee will be watery, burnt, and bitter. It is important to find the perfect brewing time for the beans you are using but remember that a double and single shot have the same extraction time, so they take the same time to make. 

Double shots of espresso are made in the same way as a single shot, and the brew ratio of coffee to water remains 1:2.

The only difference is that you need double baskets of ground coffee in the espresso machine to capture the larger drink. 

Because double shots have the same extraction time as single shots, busy baristas will often use the double shot brewing process to make more coffee at once.

This gives them double the amount of great espresso which can be used to make multiple drinks at once. 

2. Coffee & Caffeine Content (Strength) 

The amount of caffeine in coffee all depends on how it is prepared, and the coffee beans used. For example, a pour-over coffee contains twice the amount of caffeine as an espresso shot. 

A single shot of espresso (one fluid ounce) contains around 60 mg of caffeine.

Double shots of espresso have twice the amount of caffeine as a single shot, containing approximately 120mg of caffeine.  

For someone who likes to kick start their day, a double espresso shot is a good choice because it has more caffeine. It will wake you up straight away and get you ready for the day ahead. 

However, if you enjoy the taste of coffee and like to indulge in a few throughout the day, it is best to go for a single shot of espresso to avoid too much caffeine building up.  

3. Negative Health Aspects 

It's difficult to determine the healthier option of a single vs double shot of espresso, because they both tend to fit the traditional definition of healthy.

However, there are some differences to consider:

  • Acid Content 
    Acidity levels in foods and drinks we consume are important to consider as they can affect your vital organs and teeth. Coffee has a pH value of around 5, depending on its variety.

    It is not as acidic as fruit juices, beers, and wine but is more acidic than tea, milk, and water. 

    The acidity of coffee is not detrimental to the average person's health when consumed in moderation, but it may aggravate health conditions like acid reflux, gastric ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome.

    The acidity is the same in a double shot of espresso, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on how much you're consuming.
  • Sugar Content 
    Coffee naturally contains small traces of sugar, and there is slightly more in a double shot of espresso compared to a single.

    This isn't a health issue on its own, but to combat the bitter side of espressos most people add on average 1-3 teaspoons of sugar in one cup of coffee.

    Considering that many people drink more than one coffee a day, the sugar content can very quickly add up.

    A high sugar diet has serious health risks such as diabetes, diseases of the vital organs, weight gain, and tooth issues.  

4. Coffee Varieties Available

When you go to a cafe, the variety of coffees available can be daunting, and these days you can even choose a different coffee bean for your drink. 

Which coffees can be ordered in single or double?

All coffee shops will offer a choice of single and double shots (or more) of espresso.

Espresso or double espressos are single and double shots of coffee, respectively, without additional milk or water.  

A macchiato has the same quantity of espresso with a dollop of steamed milk with foam on top. It can be ordered as a single or double.  

Lattes and cappuccinos are made with steamed milk and foam on top.

The difference is the ratio of milk to foam. 

starbucks coffee variety

Cappuccinos are usually made with equal parts of espresso, milk, and foam.

At the same time, a latte is the milkiest of espresso coffees. It has more steamed milk and only a light layer of foam.

Speciality coffee shops also offer a range of other double basket espresso drinks to choose from. 

5. Milk Options 

Gone are the days when the choices of milk were simple: whole or skimmed.

While whole milk is still the creamiest choice for coffees, the rise of non-dairy milk alternatives such as oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk is increasing exponentially. 

The dairy-free and nut-free oat milk is the perfect choice as it will not overshadow the taste of coffee, unlike almond milk. It is creamy, foams well, and is slightly sweet.  

Single Shot Espresso – The Popular Choice! 

Like most coffee, the espresso was invented in Italy.

The traditional name of espresso actually means expressed in Italian, and it came about in the 20th Century when an inventor named Luigi Bezzera was looking for a way to brew coffee quickly.

He wound up making espresso, and the drink quickly took off. 

Naturally, we don't use the same machines and we've switched to a more precise modern one, and we grind finer beans to refine the taste.

However, the technique behind a regular shot of espresso remains the same, and it remains popular because of the bold and intense flavor of the coffee oils.

For many people, a cup of coffee is part of their morning routine - an essential to wake up to be ready for a day at work or school.

Whether you're getting a coffee from your favorite coffee shop, or making it at home, a single shot of espresso is the most popular choice. 

It will give you a nice boost without too much caffeine.

A single shot of espresso is one fluid ounce (30ml) of coffee extracted from 7 grams of coffee grounds and contains around 60 mg of caffeine.  

There are many variations of single shot espresso coffees at cafes; all prepared slightly differently using hot milk, steamed milk, cold milk, or simply water.

The amount of added milk or water will drastically change the taste of your coffee. The most popular espresso drinks include latte, espresso, cappuccino, americano, and flat white.   

Single Vs Double Espresso Shots (Differences In Caffeine)

Double Shot Espresso – For Those Who Love It Strong! 

As the name suggests, a double shot is stronger than a single shot - double, to be exact.

A double shot of espresso is two fluid ounces (60 ml) of coffee extracted from approximately 14 grams of coffee grounds and contains around 120 mg of caffeine. 

Due to its high caffeine content, it is fast becoming the standard order of coffee drinkers looking for an energy boost.  

A double shot espresso is simply two shots of espresso and the brew ratio of coffee to water is the same for single and double espressos.

The extraction time remains the same too - it just makes twice the amount of espresso.

It is perfect for someone who wants something quick and strong without taking in too much liquid. You can add another espresso shot to all your coffee orders to make your coffee stronger.

Some popular double shot espresso coffees are long black, magic, and long macchiato.  

two double espressos

Starbucks Single Versus Double Espresso Shots 

Starbucks are one of the coffee industry leaders, and they offer their drinks using one to four espresso shots, also known as solo, doppio, triple, and quad.

Starbucks’ measurement of a shot is different from standard measurements. Instead of the usual one-ounce shot, a Starbuck shot is 0.75 ounces, and a doppio (double shot) is 1.5 ounces.

They use an effective traditional measurement method to keep this consistent and ensure you get great espresso every time.  

Starbucks use freshly roasted Arabica beans rather than robusta beans, and they offer three different kinds of single or double shot espresso: dark, blonde, and decaf.

The standard espresso drinks are made with their signature espresso roast. Each espresso shot takes around 17 to 21 seconds to pull and contains approximately 75 mg of caffeine.  

The number of espresso shots in your coffee order depends on the size you order. For hot drinks, the sizes are short, tall, grande, and venti.

A short and tall size contains a single shot of espresso, and the grande and venti size have two shots. You can, of course, ask for "an extra shot" to any order for an additional cost.  

Tips For Making Quality Tasting Espresso

Most baristas make hundreds of espressos every day, but if you're new to the coffee game then here are some tips to help you:

Measure It Accurately

Making single or double espressos is like following a recipe, so don't be tempted to use a visual measurement.

  • A single espresso shot needs 7 grams of ground coffee and 30ml of water
  • A double shot needs 14 grams of ground coffee and 60m of water.

As you can see, you double the ingredients in a double shot vs a single shot but it's important to keep it consistent.

The brew ratio in single vs double shot remains the same, so even though there's twice the amount, they both have the same concentration. 

Clean Your Coffee Maker

Most machines have a drip tray, and nearly every drip tray has traces of old coffee which hasn't been cleaned properly.

Coffee grounds can get in many places, so make sure you've cleaned the machine thoroughly. 

Use The Right Basket

Using metal filters (called baskets) is a relatively new practice, but you need to make sure you're using the right size.

A single basket will only hold enough ground coffee for a single espresso shot, whereas a double basket can hold enough ground coffee for double shots. 

Use A Split Portafilter

If you're making a lot of coffee then you're better off brewing a double espresso shot every time.

A split portafilter lets you spread the brewed coffee in two and puts a single espresso shot in two cups. This halves the brewing time and makes it a much more efficient process. 

Serve Immediately

Once you've made your double or single espresso shot you need to serve it fast. With single and double espressos you can lose the taste surprisingly quickly, so enjoy it while it's hot.

Common Espresso Shot Questions Answered

Is a shot of espresso the same size as a shot of alcohol? 

No. A shot of espresso is 1 fluid ounce (30 ml), and a shot of alcohol is 1.5 fluid ounces (44 ml).  

How many shots of espresso are in a regular latte? 

Lattes are the milkiest coffee on the menu. Two-thirds of it is steamed milk, poured over a shot of espresso and topped with a layer of milk foam.

This mixture of milk and espresso is what gives it the golden brown layer on top.

The number of espresso shots in a latte depends on the size you order. In a small latte, you can expect to have one shot of espresso. In bigger sizes, there will be two shots of espresso. 

Is a ristretto shot stronger than espresso? 

Single shots of ristretto and espresso coffee contain the same amount of coffee grounds, but a ristretto tastes stronger.

This is because there is a different brew ratio and there is less water is used in brewing it.

The different espresso ratios results in less extraction time, producing a bolder and more concentrated flavor.  

Is a short black one or two shots? 

A short black has one shot of espresso with no added water or milk. It is a strong, concentrated cup of coffee.

If you are looking for an intense espresso for an instant kick, a short black may be for you.  


Espresso is the base ingredient for all of your favorite coffee drinks. Brewed using high water pressure and ground beans, it produces a concentrated shot perfect for a morning pick-me-up.  

The base of espresso coffees is usually a single shot (30ml) or a double shot (60ml), with the addition of milk or water.

The main differences between a single vs double shot are the caffeine content and the volume, so if you are looking for a kickstart to your day, a double shot espresso is the one for you. 

However, single-shot coffees will be ideal if you plan on consuming multiple coffees throughout the day. Just remember to limit the amount of sugar you are adding! 

Kayla Stavridis

Head of Marketing

Kayla Stavridis
Kayla Stavridis is a coffee enthusiast and Head of Marketing for Barista HQ. She blends her professional insights and experience with a deep passion for all things coffee. Kayla offers a unique, hands-on perspective on coffee culture and trends. You can find her sipping a cold brew with just a touch of milk on the beach in the afternoon and a Corona with lime in the evening.

My favorite drink? I'd go with... Cold Brew

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