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Espresso Ratios Explained

Espresso Ratio – What is it? Let’s dive in to one of the most important variables in espresso and even drip coffee. How much coffee to water?
When we talk about the difference between a 1:1, 1:2, or a 1:3 espresso ratio, we are referring to the amount of water and coffee grounds used to make the shot.
A 1:2 ratio means that for every gram of coffee, you use two grams of water. This produces a standard espresso shot that is often rich and bold with a thick crema on top. It’s a popular ratio that many people enjoy because of its balanced flavor profile. Most coffee shops use this method only.
On the other hand, a 1:1 ratio means that for every gram of coffee, you use one gram of water. This produces a shot that has a higher coffee-to-water ratio resulting in a stronger and more intense flavor profile. This type of shot is commonly referred to as a ristretto and is often enjoyed by those who prefer a stronger and bolder taste.
A 1:3 ratio is a little less common because it can be difficult to dial in and get it tasting just right. In a high end coffee shop you might be served a 1:3 ratio with skilled baristas and promising coffee. This type of shot is commonly used for light roasts to bring out acidic characteristics that can be translated into floral and fruity notes.
A 1:4 ratio is just a bad idea. With a 1:4 ratio you’re getting mostly bitterness and unpleasantly powerful acidity. You’re also not going to get any crema. It’s going to be very watery and sour. Don’t do it!
The difference in ratios directly impacts the texture and overall taste of your espresso shot. A 1:2 shot will likely have a sweeter and less intense flavor with notes of chocolate, caramel, and nutty undertones. Whereas a 1:3 shot will have a more robust and intense taste with more pronounced acidity and bitterness.
It’s important to keep in mind that the optimal ratio for your espresso will depend on various factors such as the type of coffee beans, their roast level, and personal taste preferences. Experimenting with different ratios can be a great way to find the perfect balance of flavors that suits your individual taste.
In conclusion, understanding the difference between the espresso ratio is crucial in creating a well-balanced and delicious shot. Whether you prefer a richer and sweeter shot or a bolder and more intense ristretto, experimenting with different ratios can result in a truly personalized and satisfying espresso experience.

Checkout these extra resources on ratios 

Espresso Brew Ratios: How to measure your output – from Clive Coffee, a well known brand.


Here are some coffees that are great on espresso at a 1:2 ratio…. If you want to try 1:3 we recommend heading over to the coffee scientist profile.

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Donovan Talbot

Author Donovan Talbot

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