Espresso shot by taste

When I learned espresso the golden parameters was brew ratio 1:2 in 22-30 seconds. That is, if you got 18 grams of coffee grind going in, you should go for 36 grams of brewed coffee in the cup.

This fits dark roasted coffee well. But with a light roast the espresso shot is  very acidic.

There have been several work-arounds to make it better. Strech the roast profile. Brew with longer preinfusion and at a lower pressure.

Here is my work-around:

Search your coffee by tasting drops during the espresso shot

Let an espresso shot run really long while you taste with a spoon to follow what taste is extracted along the way. Provided that you got a suited grind size and don’t have channeling – the development in the taste is:

Very sour and sharp at first
Then sweet and nice aroma
Then bitter
Then thin

With a dark roast this is released fairly quickly: with around double the amount water than coffee – the 1:2 brewratio.

But light roasts are denser and got less solubles than dark roasts. So the taste is released slower. This is why longer preinfusion makes sense. But also running a longer shot, like 1:3.


When I brew a light roast espresso, I always explore the coffee on hand by tasting while the shot is running.

Using 17 grams coffee in the portafilter, I skip the first 15-20 grams because they are always very acidic.

Then I taste. Only a drop at the time (or it will get too hot).

At a good grind size the good taste will start around 30 grams in the cup – and keep on until 50 to 70 grams. When the taste starts to fade or get bitter, I stop the shot.

If the shot was stopped at brewratio 1:2 (here: 34 grams) it would have been very acidic. Most of the sweetness and big aromas would have stayed back in the portafilter.

The best way to know how what brew ratio suits a given coffee, is to taste during the shot.

Read more about the differences on light and dark roasted coffee.