Espresso Dosing
Espresso Dosing

Careful measurement of coffee grounds — or dosing — forms the foundation of the perfect espresso shot, and the process requires delicately balancing every facet to tease the optimal flavor profile out of each cup. Dosing for espresso is just one part of the overall process of dialing in. The texture of the grounds, or “grind size” and the dry espresso dose both contribute to the overall brew time, or “pull time,” of the espresso shot. With that in mind, let’s explore the dosing and extraction process along with tips for achieving a flavorful, memorable shot every time you brew.

What Is Espresso Dosing and Extraction?

Savored for its rich, intense flavor, and powerful kick, espresso — a concentrated, short form of coffee brewed usually at high pressures — utilizes dosing to aid extraction, which draws out all the notes and flavors in the beans you use in your grind. Dosing, in terms of espresso, refers to the quantity of grounds you use for your shot, while extraction refers to how water flows through those grounds, pulling out soluble compounds distinctive to each bean variety and/or processing method. These soluble compounds and the gases released when water hits the dry bed of grounds come together to create the sensory aspects of your coffee or espresso, from fragrance and aroma to flavor. Understanding how dosing contributes to extraction helps you strike the perfect balance for sublime shots that delight your taste buds while infusing your day with energy.

Perfect Espresso: What to Change or Measure

Achieving the perfect espresso means delicately balancing every aspect of the brewing process, from finely grinding fresh beans for smooth extraction to carefully dialing grind size and water temperature for flawless flow through your espresso. For instance, dosing with too many grounds may cause over-extraction, or extended brew times, leading to overly bitter shots. On the other hand, too few grounds or under-extraction — too short brew times — creates issues with sourness and acidity that make shots unpleasant. Let’s explore how careful attention to the details can improve your espresso-making process, so you understand how experimenting with each factor can help you tailor shots to your personal preferences.


The amount of coffee grounds you measure for a shot of espresso is referred to as a dose, and the dose strongly influences the intensity and flavor of your final brew. If you use a dose that's too small for your portafilter basket size or total yield, your espresso shot may taste weak or inconsistent. If you use a dose that’s too large, your espresso shot may taste too bitter and can cause water flow to stop or seize. After measuring your dose carefully, either with a measuring cup or digital dosing scales, you place the coffee grounds in your espresso machine’s portafilter basket for brewing, then distribute your coffee grounds (level them so that your dose is flat and even in the portafilter), and finally tamp your dose to prepare for brewing, or “pulling” when talking about espresso.


The amount of coffee out for each shot while pulling espresso is referred to as the yield. The size of your dose and the amount of water you use for brewing makes up the ratio you are using to pull your espresso, depending on how much flavor, how much of what particular flavor notes, and how much body you want from each shot. It is typical to see the ratio written as coffee to water in terms of espresso. For example, if you’re dosing 20 grams of coffee in and going for a total yield of 40 grams of espresso out, your ratio of coffee to water is 1:2. Using a stronger dose with less water creates a heavier bodied, robust, and often more viscous espresso, while a lower dose with more water weakens the brew for a milder taste. In addition to how much espresso you get from each shot, yield also determines how much crema — the golden-brown top layer — forms on top of your shot. Balancing yield to dose and extraction ensures a creamy and visually smooth crema, as well as promising clearly defined heart and body (the lowest and middle layer of espresso, respectively), which enhances the sensory experience of espresso sipping.

Brew Time

Along with dose and yield, total brew time, grind size, and water pressure, influences the strength and taste of espresso shots. Controlling the size of your coffee grounds, water temperature, and the pressure in bars you’re using on your machine regulates extraction times, also known as pull times, shot times, or total brew times, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all process. Ideally, water temperatures should range between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit to make the most of your favorite coffee beans. Experimentation helps you determine what works best for your preferred beans, strength, and flavor profile.

What's the Ideal Shot of Espresso?

To get the correct dose for your espresso shots, consider the type of coffee beans you’re using, the roast level, and what types of flavor notes you most enjoy. These details can give you a rough idea of where to start when you want the ideal espresso shot. For instance, if you want to accentuate more chocolatey or generally heavier flavor notes in a darker roasted coffee, you might want to pull a more concentrated shot. If you want to accentuate the fruity or high sweet notes in a lighter or medium roast coffee, you might want to pull a less concentrated shot.

Generally, doses for double shots of espresso (which most cafes pull) depend on the size of your portafilter basket. For a 20 gram basket, for example, you’d probably want to start with 18-20 grams of coffee. A typical ratio in the modern coffee world for pulling espresso is 1:2, so if you use 20 grams of coffee, you’d pull 40 grams of espresso.

Keep in mind that these ratios are basic starting points on your personal taste adventure. You might add more grounds or water for shots, depending on whether you prefer more viscous and rich or mild brews, and experimentation helps you get the best results as you try more combinations. Likewise, a holistic approach to brewing that considers grind size, dose, water temperature, and pressure helps you get better control for consistent extraction times.

Part of achieving the perfect grind size comes down to using a top-notch grinder, such as our Opus Conical Burr Grinder. Built specifically to unlock the full potential of every preferred shot style, this grinder delivers consistent grind sizes perfect for optimal water flow through grounds and portafilter baskets on a wide range of espresso machines. This versatile grinder lets you fine-tune the texture of your beans with over 41 unique settings, so you can use it for espresso, standard pour-overs, batch brewers, French presses, or even cold brewed coffee.