Last Updated on June 26, 2023 by John Moretti
I have a mixed history with a double espresso. It was the first “real” coffee I ever tried as a teenager, as I’d always been an instant coffee kind of guy up to that point.
I don’t recommend starting with a double espresso in that situation.
But what is it, and what’s the best way to drink it to ensure you do not feel as if it has assaulted your taste buds? That’s what I will look into over the next few minutes.
A double espresso, also known as a doppio, involves having two shots of espresso. It contains up to 44 ml of liquid and is best consumed with no milk or hot water added to it. Stir, sip immediately, and enjoy it hot to get the best out of this coffee.
But one thing I love about the world of coffee is that it tends to have its own complexities. So, what should you know about a doppio?
What is a Double Espresso?
You may see a double espresso also being referred to as a doppio or even a double shot. It all means the same thing.
But I think that makes it obvious as to what’s involved in a double espresso. After all, the clue is in the name.
Yet, what most people perhaps do not realize is there’s more to a double espresso than they think. Yes, I know you would expect every doppio to be the same, but that’s not entirely true.
What’s the Difference Between a Double and Single Espresso?
So, I will begin by telling you the difference between a double and single espresso. Now, I know most people will be sitting there thinking the difference is obvious, but here are a few facts and figures.
The Single Espresso
Generally, a single espresso involves adding between 18 – 22 grams of coffee into an espresso machine which then uses approximately 9 bars of pressure to produce a coffee at the end.
The Double Espresso
The basic principle of the double espresso is you simply double up everything. That means you will add between 36 – 44 grams of ground coffee into an espresso machine, but you use the same pressure.
The result is you get double the quantity of coffee at the end.
The Difference in Intensity
One thing that always stands out for me with an espresso is the intensity. It was the first thing I experienced with coffee, and it almost blew me off my feet.
But is there a difference in intensity between a single and double espresso?
The answer is yes, and I’ll explain why.
First, you need to look at the brewing method.
An espresso machine uses those 9 bars of pressure to extract maximum flavor and aroma from the ground coffee. It’s something it does amazingly well.
But it’s also the fact it does this while using the least amount of liquid that also bolsters that intensity. You basically get a strong shot of coffee in a minuscule amount of liquid, and that’s why an espresso can hit you hard.
Yet a double espresso gives you even more intensity than a single.
This is thanks to the quantities involved in making the double espresso. I know it’s just double the coffee and double the liquid, but the intensity carries on for twice as long as well.
It’s not as if it’s the same coffee quantity with double the liquid, which would then cut the intensity in half. Instead, it’s more like an extended espresso, so you get to enjoy all that intensity for longer.
But I find it to be about more than that.
A Double Espresso Gives Double the Enjoyment
If I sit and compare the flavors that emerge in a single and double espresso, I see a difference.
The double espresso comes across as having given the coffee more space and freedom to allow different coffee flavors to flourish and come to the fore. I feel a double espresso will often have a bit more depth to the flavor when compared to a single shot.
How Should You Drink a Double Espresso?
But here’s another question that I feel is important: how should you actually drink a double espresso?
I admit my first time involved me taking too much at once, and all those flavors and that intensity exploded all over my taste buds. It wasn’t a pleasant experience.
But then, I didn’t understand the way in which an espresso is made. If I had understood things, I would have known what to expect because I didn’t do one important thing: stir the coffee.
How an Espresso Machine Makes an Espresso
To understand what’s going on, let me introduce you to something called the “pre-infusion” cycle.
Now, this all happens over the course of a matter of seconds. Still, it’s a key component in the creation of a beautiful espresso.
During this stage, the espresso machine effectively injects a small amount of water into the coffee granules. The water then sits there for a few seconds immediately before the remaining water is then pulled through the coffee, giving you the espresso shot.
But why is this key?
It means the first part of the espresso is the weakest of the shot. I’m talking about coffee that is lacking in density, flavors, aromas, and intensity.
As the creation of the espresso continues, the strength and intensity actually increase somewhat, so the last part of the espresso contains the most flavor and intensity compared to the opening part of the shot.
And why am I mentioning this? Well, it’s because not knowing this can hamper your overall enjoyment of your doppio.
How to Deal with the Intensity of a Doppio
Thanks to this pre-infusion cycle, your doppio does not come with the same strength of coffee from beginning to end. If you just drink it immediately after it has been made, your first experience will be underwhelming.
This is no surprise. After all, the doppio’s strongest and most flavorful part will be at the bottom, as it’s the first part pulled through the coffee.
There’s every chance you would take your first sip and feel it’s almost as if the coffee has been watered down in some way. Of course, that’s not the case, as it’s simply the dispersal of the flavor and intensity through the coffee that’s the problem.
But then there’s another problem.
As you work through the doppio, you will find it getting stronger and stronger to the point where it can overwhelm you.
Again, that’s not something you want to experience, but there is a way around it: stirring your coffee.
Yes, the simple act of stirring your doppio will make the coffee more evenly balanced. It should mean no surprises are attached to drinking it, and you should get the same experience no matter where you are in the double shot.
But that’s not the only thing I recommend when drinking a doppio.
Drink Straight After Brewing
A doppio is intended to be enjoyed immediately after brewing. You should never leave it to settle for a while before sipping your coffee.
The problem with espresso, as it gets cold, is it does this weird thing of almost separating out. It means you then have stronger and weaker sips, and that’s not exactly a good thing.
Is it Worth Drinking a Double Espresso?
A double espresso is one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world, so there must clearly be something about it that attracts so many people.
But I have a few tips that may help you decide if this is the coffee for you.
Remember the Strength
The first thing to remember is that a doppio is a strong coffee. If you are not used to even drinking a single espresso, then I would not recommend ordering a double shot.
The intensity of the coffee is almost unmatched. I think only a double ristretto would prove stronger, so it’s right up there at the top of that league table.
What I’m saying is you need to prepare yourself for how strong it is. A new coffee drinker would be advised to effectively work up to drinking a doppio, or it could put you off coffee entirely.
The Barista Makes a Difference
I admit this part is tough to deal with, but the barista can also make a difference when it comes to your double espresso and how much you enjoy it.
The tricky part is that it’s not easy to pull the perfect double shot. It may involve you going around different coffee shops and trying out what they have to offer.
The Coffee Makes a Difference
And then there’s the coffee itself. The beans used will change the flavor profile of the shots so you can easily have a more bitter and intense espresso in one coffee shop, followed by one that’s slightly sweeter in another.
To help, I would spend some time getting to grips with the difference in flavors with various beans. Then, you can ask the barista where the beans are from in advance to allow you to predict the flavor.
After that, see how many flavors you can pick out as you sip your doppio. A warning though, it’s not easy.
My Recap on a Double Espresso
A double espresso is a wonderful drink to experience, and I’ve covered several key points here. So, let’s run through the different things I think you should remember when it comes to your doppio.
- It has double the espresso and double the liquid
- It also has double the intensity lasting for longer
- You need to stir it to mix up the flavors
- Drink it straight after brewing, and do not allow it to go cold
- Learn about the beans to identify the flavors in the coffee
- It’s not the best starter coffee drink
- It’s dense, packed full of flavor and aroma, and extremely strong
- Talk to the barista to see where they get their beans from in advance
- Work your way up to drinking a doppio rather than using it as your starting point
I admit my opinion on a doppio has changed since my first experience. If you follow my tips and advice on what to expect, then I do think you should also be able to enjoy a quality double espresso if it has been made correctly.
A double espresso is a very popular drink loved by people around the world. It gives you double the coffee, which also translates into double the enjoyment.
However, don’t forget to stir it. If you do, you will experience something completely different, and it may not be quite as enjoyable.
To me, that would be a tragedy, so spoons at the ready to stop that happening.