Pulling the Perfect Espresso Shot - Part 2--Controlling Grind Size, Tamp, and Time To Pull the Perfect Shot. thebakeristalife.com
All Posts,  Barista Basics,  Coffee,  Espresso

Pulling the Perfect Espresso Shot – Part 2

|This post may contain affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. This is at no cost to you, but is paid by the company from whom you are purchasing. Affiliate commissions help support this blog and my family. To see our complete privacy policy and disclosure, click here.

Web Hosting

Follow by Email

Let’s Review…

I am passionate about great coffee!

If you are reading part two of a post about pulling espresso shots, I’m going to make the assumption that you, too, are passionate about great coffee.

Great espresso means you are on your way to making a great espresso beverage.

Poor espresso means you are not.

Espresso beans ARE Coffee Beans.

Espresso shots can be pulled short or long. Short shots are generally used more in coffee shops than long, but long shots do have a place.

Long shots are usually more bitter than short shots since the coffee releases more of its bitter attributes the longer it is exposed to water.

If you want to review the part-one post, click here.

Now for the new stuff!

I’m not going to be really technical here – This is a beginner’s guide, but it can get a little cerebral, so stay with me!

What Determines How a Shot Pulls (Is Extracted)?

The core variables which determine the quality, or lack thereof, of a shot of espresso are…

  • Quality of Espresso Used
  • Amount of Espresso Used
  • Grind Size
  • Tamp
  • Time of Extraction

So, a good formula for producing a great double shot of espresso would be…

18 grams high-quality espresso

+ proper grind size

+ even tamp at 30 lbs pressure

+ 18-22 seconds extraction time


A fantastic double shot of espresso.

Each line in the above formula can be viewed as a possible variable – something that can be controlled to achieve the desired result….

Really Great Espresso!

Amount of Espresso Used

The amount of espresso used to pull a double shot (remember, double shots are pretty much standard in coffee shops across the US) is between 14 and 18 grams. At Sourdough Cuppa Joe, we use 18 grams of espresso for our double shots. We find that 18 grams gives us the most consistent extractions.

Using less than 14 grams of espresso will result in shots that pull too quickly and the coffee used will be over extracted. This will also make the espresso more bitter.

Grind Size

Pulling the Perfect Espresso Shot - Part 2--Controlling Grind Size, Tamp, and Time To Pull the Perfect Shot. thebakeristalife.comGrind size is one of the easiest-to-control variables in the process. You can do everything else right, but if the grind size is off, the shot will extract poorly.

The proper grind size is somewhere between that of regular table salt and beach sand. Most portafilters have a line inside the basket indicating the proper fill level of a tamped, pre-extracted puck of espresso.

So, if your espresso weight is right, when tamped, the espresso should come just to that line. If this happens, then you know your grind size is also correct.

This Nuova Simonelli Grinta Burr Grinder is a very good grinder. We use one like this at our shop.


Pulling the Perfect Espresso Shot - Part 2--Controlling Grind Size, Tamp, and Time To Pull the Perfect Shot. thebakeristalife.com“Tamp” can either refer to the instrument used to compress the espresso grounds into the portafilter before extraction, or the act of doing just that.

Tamping is properly done evenly (without pressing down at an angle) and with about 30 pounds of pressure. The only way to accurately measure this pressure is with an instrument like a scale, but 30 pounds is quite a bit of pressure, so tamp firmly.

Consistent tamping will help eliminate another variable in the perfect shot formula. This gets you closer to that perfect double shot – a goal worth obtaining!

Here is a great Tamper for you!


Time works together with amount, tamp, and grind size. If you get any one of these wrong, your result will not be what you’re going for. If all other variables are controlled, you are 75% of the way to your reward.

Eyes on the prize, people.

Short shots should pull (just another word for extract) for between 18-22 seconds to achieve maximum, but not over extraction.

An under-extracted shot (not enough time) will generally yield a shorter-than-short shot of espresso which will taste dry and unfinished. It’s a little like eating pasta which is posing as “Al Dente”, but hasn’t gotten there yet. This is obviously not what we want, so make sure your shots are pulling for at least 18 seconds.

An over-extracted shot (too much time) will yield a shot which has adequate or too much volume. These shots will likely taste bitter. Your espresso may be of great quality, but if you pull the shots too long, that great quality will be lost to the bitterness.

This Hario Digital Scale with an integrated timer will serve two purposes. Weighing your espresso and timing your shots, all on one device!

OK, so…

18 grams high-quality espressoPulling The Perfect Espresso Shot - Part 1--The beginnings of a great latte or cappuccino. thebakeristalife.com

+ proper grind size

+ even tamp at 30 lbs pressure

+ 18-22 seconds extraction time


A fantastic double shot of espresso.

Now, the fun part of all of that is you can enjoy the espresso you just made, so

Pour it in some coffee to make a fantastic “Red Eye”

Steam up some milk and make a tasty Latte

Turn it up and get an instant kick!

How do you enjoy your espresso? Comment and let us know! Have a great drink recipe to share? We’d love to try it out at Sourdough Cuppa Joe. It may even end up on our menu!

Follow by Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *