When To Start Timing An Espresso Shot? Espresso Golden Rule Timing

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When To Start Timing An Espresso Shot

If you brew espresso frequently or you are an espresso lover, you probably underestimate the importance of knowing when to start timing espresso shots because the perfect timing is critical for making a high-quality shot of espresso. 

Even though some espresso machines come with built-in shot timers that start timing as soon as the lever is raised which means the pump starts, it is worth knowing the right timing for shots.

When it comes to making fresh flavor espresso, the timing plays a great role in making or breaking your espresso quality. 

Read on to find out the techniques and timing involved in the ideal espresso.

So What is an Espresso?

An espresso is a coffee brewing method using fine grounds and makes a rich-flavored concentrated form of coffee. Most commonly it is served in ‘shots’ in cafes. 

Even if you’re not a regular espresso drinker, you may have heard the term “pulling a shot”. Pulling a shot is the process of applying high pressure in hot water through the finely-ground coffee beans for extraction.

You may often notice a reddish-brown layer that forms at the very top of the cup which is a flavorful layer known as crema. Making great-tasting espresso with cream required some sort of coffee-making or barista skills. 

The good news is that you do not always require the expensive espresso machine for making espresso with crema, you can make espresso-like coffee with cream with a stovetop espresso maker Moka pot in the comfort of your kitchen or outdoor use.

How To: Espresso Shots – When to Start Timing

Qualities of a Perfect Espresso

Making espresso takes a very short time compared to making coffee because high pressure is applied in the espresso brewing process. In most cases, high-quality espresso takes around 25-40 seconds to brew and these few seconds are very important for producing espresso and this does really matter because it might alter the quality of a perfect shot.

If you brew espresso with quick shot chances are high that you end up with a lighter appearance and higher acidity espresso. However, slowly-brewed shots are preferred because it results in more body and a sweeter aroma in your espresso.

Baristas use their experience, skills, and techniques to balance perfect shots. If the shot is too fast, you will experience thin and acidic drinks. Thus, your espresso can either be bitter or bland when the timing is so long.

When to start timing espresso shots? When do you start timing your extraction?

In the coffee community, most espresso lovers consider 18 seconds is the perfect start time for the espresso shot but in reality, this time may vary based on coffee and when it starts to blond. But, you need to stop the shot when the espresso turns watery and lighter. 

Keep in mind that there is no hard and fast rule for shots time but there is best practice and guides and you can adjust the time based on your taste buds.

Perfect espresso grinder and perfect grind size is the prerequisite for making great tasting espresso.

You may experience your espresso watery in under 20 seconds, then you ensure you use a finer grind.

Alternatively, you can adjust your grind a bit coarser if the shot blondes at over 30 seconds

so that you can be specific about coffee dose and shot volume.

When a barista makes espresso with a delicious crema on top, it basically indicates that there is no liquid through it.

Does Espresso Extraction Time Include Pre Infusion?

Even though some espresso brewing techniques calculate the pre-infusion within the espresso extraction time, coffee brewing techniques should not count this as brewing time because it’s a preliminary step before adding more water. 

Barista and espresso experts know that brewing espresso is an art of careful attention to every small detail without any room for error.

6 Essential Measure When Making Espresso

Making cafe-quality espresso at home is quite possible if you use the right espresso tools and you should carefully take some measurements before brewing the best shots of espresso. 

In fact, one can make a perfect espresso as long as one ensures fine grind coffee beans and a true espresso machine. 


The dose is the weight of dry ground coffee that you are using to make an espresso, and it depends on your espresso style. Even though you find the dose for morden espresso is between 18-21g, it can be anywhere from 5-30 grams.

In fact, when it comes to making espresso, measuring the dose should be the first step. Once you know how many grams you should use, it’s critical to take note of the basket’s size.

The dose may vary for double espresso or for dark roasts. For double doses, the dose amount can be between 14 to 24 grams and for dark roast, you may use a larger dose of 20-21 grams in a 20g basket.


The yield is the wet weight of the espresso that you have extracted in your cup measured in grams (g). What it means by the higher yield – the more water has been passed through the fine ground coffee – meaning a higher extraction level. And, the espresso will be less concentrated in case of higher yield.

For example, 1:2 ratio that refers to every 20 g of dose, you have a 40 g yield. So, you can clearly understand that you can dilute the dose making your espresso weaker. In the same way, you can make your espresso strong by reducing the amount of water.

In the espresso community, most espresso lovers brew espresso maintain a 1:2 ratio to make a strong yet pleasant taste. It is better to avoid more concentrated rations like 1:15 or 1:20. After brewing multiple shots, you will find the right ratio that meets your taste buds. 

Brew Time

The ideal espresso brewing time you’re looking for is between 20 – 30 seconds. The brew time may vary based on the type of roast you are using. If you use a dark roast, then the brew time will be shot because dark roasts are less dense. On the other hand, if you use light roasts its needs a longer brewing time because lighter roasts are denser.

However, if you’re running too long or too short, you can always check your grind, dose, and tamp, then adjust it accordingly for your desired shot. Even if you are still getting uneven shots, your tampon needs to be more even.

In fact, it needs some sort of skill and technique for figuring out the “unique spot”. 


For making the perfect espresso the water should maintain the ideal espresso brewing temperature and for making a perfect shot you need to consider the coffee temperature too. 

In general, with high temperatures, espresso extraction is quite more accessible and faster. For light roast extracting, you would require to increase the water temperature so that the espresso extraction time will increase.

Pressure Profiling

The pressure profile would vary during different stages of espresso brewing and it is helpful for brewing excellent flavor espresso. Pressure profiling, a specific espresso machine such as Modbar or Slayer, is needed.

For instance, you must maintain lower pressure at the beginning for lighter roasts to avoid extracting acidic espresso. Here, low pressure will decrease the channeling, resulting in a higher extraction is bound to happen.


For even extraction, channeling should be perfect. If you want to make flavorful espresso,   

brewing water should run through the coffee puck evenly. 

Final Words

Making a perfect espresso shot involves some learning curve and requires some sort of skill and technique. Fortunately, with a little training, anyone can make espresso with cream and it also needs the right espresso maker and grinder as well as fresh coffee beans. 

It is worth investing some time in learning when to start timing espresso shots as soon as possible which will give you the exciting feeling and you can brew great tasting espresso anytime you want without spending time and cash on cafes.