/ #espresso #perfect extraction 

Brew Ratio

The number of factors affecting the perfect espresso shot can be daunting. As you’re pulling your first or one-hundredth espresso, the consideration of so many variables can lead you to lose where you should even start! Once you’ve stripped everything down and have dialed in your espresso grinder, consider focusing on one of the crucial basics like your brew ratio.

Brew ratio: the relationship between ground coffee within the portafilter and amount of coffee extracted.

Hoping to pull the perfect shot? It’s all about balance and your taste.

The complex mix of acidity, sweetness, and bitterness is what draws many to espresso. Of course, your coffee beans will contribute to the majority of that flavor profile, but your recipe has to bear on what your shot’s end taste is as well. The second half of your brew ratio, the amount of coffee extracted, is your espresso yield.

Espresso Yield: weight of espresso in the cup.

Yield is a determining factor on flavor. The higher amount of extraction, more yield, produces a weaker shot, whereas lesser yield produces a intensely strong shot. Striking a balance between the two is ideal, so you don’t sacrifice either the strength of your shot or sacrifice extraction.

By exploring the benefits of each brew ratio that’s prevalent throughout the world, we can determine one factor of our recipe. Your espresso recipe can vary based on all other elements of the brewing process but understanding yield, the second half of the brew ratio, is an important baseline.

3 Traditional Italian Espresso Brew Ratios

  1. Ristretto, a brew ratio of 1:1 to 1:2.
  2. Normale, a brew ratio of 1:2 to 1:3
  3. Lungo, a brew ratio of 1:3 to 1:4

Remaining consistent and scientific as you’re selecting your brew ratio for your espresso recipe is extremely important. As you’re exploring brew ratios drop one of the variables, the amount of coffee used. While deciding if you’re more of a ristretto, instead of lungo or normale, measure your ground beans to one-tenth of a gram using an accurate scale.


A close brew ratio, ristretto produces a weighty shot of espresso. It’s under-extraction producing a substantial body with most generally a lack of clarity the ristretto plays to the strengths of a darker-roasted low-grow coffee. During a period where Americans were tending to drink mostly milk-based drinks ristretto rose to popularity.

Dark Roast: low-acidity, chocolate, caramel, toast, burnt toffee, body, and sweetness.


With the proliferation of higher grown, light roast, single origin coffees in specialty cafes globally a wider brew ratio has become more popular. While utilizing a brew ratio between 1:1.5 to 1:2 you’re giving the origin an opportunity to shine through producing clarity within your espresso shot. 

Light Roast: acid, aromatic, fruity, bright, less body and sweetness.


Gaining traction in high-end coffee shops lately, the traditional Italian espresso brew ratio of 1:3 produces impressive clarity and has similar characteristics to your drip-coffee. The decades-old tradition of the lungo espresso decreases the body and viscosity allowing each flavor of the coffee to shine.


Chris' Coffee Staff

Starting out of the back of an El Camino with the help of my family and a couple off duty cops, Chris' Coffee Service has been the experts in coffee since 1975.