Single Vs Double Espresso Shots (Differences In Caffeine)

An espresso is a method of brewing coffee into a concentrated form known as an espresso shot. It is made by forcing very hot water at high pressure through finely-ground coffee beans. Expresso has a sharp, intense flavor that is full and rich. This is the base of many different types of espresso coffee, depending on the amount of water and milk used.  

When ordering at a cafe, you may have heard the words single espresso and double espresso being used. In this article, we will explore the differences between the two and which may be the best option for you to start your day.  

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 a cafe 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 7g 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 espresso is two fluid ounces (~60ml) of coffee extracted from approximately 14g 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. 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

Single Vs Double Espresso Shots (Differences Compared) 

1. Production Process & Brewing Time 

In cafes, espresso shots are extracted using an espresso machine. Hot water is pressurized through a ‘puck’ of ground coffee beans, producing a concentrated coffee called espresso.

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

2. Coffee & Caffeine Content (Strength) 

The amount of caffeine in coffee all depends on how it is prepared. For example, a pour-over coffee contains twice as much caffeine as an espresso shot. A single shot of espresso (one fluid ounce) contains around 60 mg of caffeine. A double shot espresso has 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 shot espresso is a good choice. 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 

  • Acid Content 
    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. Acidity levels in foods and drinks we consume are important to consider as they can affect your vital organs and teeth. The acidity of coffee is not detrimental to the average person's health when consumed in moderation. However, it may aggravate health conditions in others. For example, if you suffer from acid reflux, gastric ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome, it may be wise to avoid coffee due to its acidity and laxative effect.  
  • Sugar Content 
    Coffee naturally contains small traces of sugar but to combat the bitterness; most people add between 1-3 teaspoons of sugar per 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. 

Which coffees can be ordered in single or double?

All cafes will offer a choice of single and double (or more) shots of espresso. Espresso or double espressos are single and double shots of coffee, respectively, without additional milk or water.  

A macchiato is an 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.

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.  

starbucks coffee variety

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.  

Starbucks Single Vs Double Espresso Shots 

Starbucks offers 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.  

Starbucks offers three different kinds of 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.  

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 (~30ml), and a shot of alcohol is 1.5 fluid ounces (~44ml).  

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. 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? 

Ristretto and espresso coffee contains the same amount of coffee grounds, but a ristretto tastes stronger. This is because less water is used in brewing it, which 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. Choosing which one is best for you is dependent on your lifestyle. 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 coffees throughout the day. Just remember to limit the amount of sugar you are adding!