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single double or triple?

September 24, 2011

When you pull a shot of coffee you might want to pull a single, a double or even a triple.   Each type of shot is pulled from a different basket – not surprisingly a single, a double, and a triple basket respectively.  A single traditionally uses 7 to 8 grams of coffee, a double uses fourteen grams, and in an abuse of the word tradition since they are fairly new triples use around twenty to twenty one grams of coffee.  


One at first might guess that a single would pull in half the time of a double, but no this is exactly where basket geometry comes into play.  The shapes and holes are designed so that all three types should take the same amount of time, you just yield roughly one ounce from a single, two from a double, and three from a triple.


The truth is that most people do not pull a triple for a triples sake, but instead pull a triple risretto, where they grind finer so that the 20 grams of coffee produces closer to two ounces of coffee, or measured far more precisely, twenty to thirty grams of liquid.


The reason that triples did not even exist until recently is that a basket that will fit twenty or more grams of coffee will not fit in a traditional portafilter.  When people started using bottomless portafilters it became possible to use a slightly taller basket making triples possible.  


For those who like giant milk drinks, the triple is a godsend because you can get either more coffee or more potent coffee to stand up to and be more detectable in ten ounces or more of milk.


I love a triple ristretto produced from great beans (Vivace Dolce, for example can produce a very pleasing triple shot) but the question is do you want a potent shot or a subtle shot.  As a rule, although all rules have exceptions the more espresso included in the basket the more powerful and potent the shot.






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