The Three Elements of Pulling a Proper Espresso Shot

When was the last time you tested your espresso for quality control purposes? Do you need assistance in dialing in your espresso to truly make it shine? Does your staff know the standards for quality and what you should be looking for?

When preparing espresso, assuming that all equipment is calibrated, clean and in proper working order, a barista essentially is looking for compliance according to the following three factors: volume, extraction time and visual characteristics.


The Specialty Coffee Association of America standard is 0.75 ounce to 1 ounce for a single shot; 1.5 ounces to 2 ounces for a double.

Extraction Time

SCAA standard for extraction time is 20 to 30 seconds.

Visual Characteristics

SCAA standard keywords for what to look for: viscosity of warm honey, thick, dark and golden crema, served immediately.

When the volume and extraction time are correct, the visual characteristics will often follow; however, if a coffee is old and stale, or if equipment is not calibrated properly, it is possible to have correct volume and extraction time with incorrect visual characteristics.

Preparing a great shot of espresso can be difficult. It is critical to maintain correct and consistent preparation each and every time an espresso is prepared.

Please keep in mind that if you ever have any questions regarding espresso preparation, grinder calibration, quality control, etc., Stockton Graham & Co. is only a phone call away at 800.835.5943.

Also, if you are in the area or are passing through, feel free to schedule an appointment to stop in our demo room and we can pull some shots on our in-house machine. We’d be glad to pass along some tips to help out, if needed.

SGC also makes available a multitude of Coffee College courses and our Barista Certification Program. These classes will not only improve your overall staff knowledge base and skill level, but will also give you lifelong business tips to implement for the long haul.

Mike Adams
Stockton Graham & Co.