Doppio Espresso

What is a Doppio? How to Order, Make & Drink Double Espresso

The double espresso has become a cafe standard. Almost everyone who’s ordered at a cafe has enjoyed a doppio, whether alone or in a larger beverage. From how to order one to how to drink it, here’s all you need to know about a doppio espresso.

What is a Doppio Espresso?

A doppio espresso is simply a double portion of a single espresso, the single espresso being the original standard of how much could be brewed on lever espresso machines.

The drink is sometimes called a standard doppio in competition settings. The standard refers to a normal strength espresso, in contrast to a ristretto (short, sweet) or lungo (long, bitter) espresso. The doppio, again, indicates a double portion.

What Does Doppio Mean?

“Doppio” means to double in Italian. Doubling is always in reference to a single espresso shot, and not just when used for espresso. A double cappuccino also contains a doppio, and isn’t twice the size of a standard cappuccino.

What is the Ratio of a Doppio?

A recent trend of measuring espresso has eroded any standard ratio of coffee grounds and brewed espresso. Differences in weighing by weight and mass only further add to the variety of ratios. A ratio may be anywhere from 1:1.2 to 1:4.3, depending on where it’s ordered.

The Traditional Italian Doppio Ratio

The traditional Italian method for pulling doppios uses 14 grams of espresso and produces 60 milliliters of espresso. This is a doubling of the solo espresso ratio that’s 7 grams to 30 milliliters. At a doppio volume, this is approximately 0.5 ounces to 2 fluid ounces in the imperial system.

The measurement switches from mass to volume, because baristas historically pulled espresso visually — the trend of weighing espresso is new and still not common in traditional Italian cafes.

The 60 milliliters of espresso includes a layer of crema, which is created by tiny air bubbles. If a doppio is weighed after the air bubbles dissipate (or before), 60 milliliters of volume translates to between 40 and 50 grams of espresso. The ratio is thus approximately 1:3 (between 2:9 and 3.6) when going solely by weight, which is what should be used if comparing to modern ratios.

The Modern Doppio Ratios

Modern doppios served outside of Italy use varied ratios, but all tend to be more concentrated than traditional Italian espresso. Many cafes aim for around a 1:2 ratio if measured by weight, allowing for a nominal standard deviation from this specific number. Some cafes serve extreme ratios as low as 1:1.2 or as high as 1:2.8. All of these ratios are measured grams- to-grams, even though eyeballing volume continues to be commonplace.

The variance among modern doppio ratios means that a doppio will taste different from one cafe to another. Such differences aren’t to be bemoaned, however. Today’s cafes have much greater access to different coffees, different equipment, and also different ratios. Such variance is representative of how diverse the domestic and global coffee culture has become.

What is the Difference Between Doppio and Espresso?

Doppio is simply a double portion of single espresso. Many cafes outside of Italy now serve doppios as their standard espresso, and use it in all dairy beverages. They’ll normally split a doppio if a solo espresso is ordered, because dosing a single-espresso portafilter is too inconvenient.

How to Order a Doppio Espresso

A doppio espresso can be ordered as a “doppio,” “doppio espresso” or “double espresso.” A cafe may pull doppio or ask for clarification if you order an “espresso.”

If ordering a dairy beverage (e.g. cortado, cappuccino, latte), double and single are the more common terms. Triple or quad are the terms if more espresso is desired.

How to Make a Doppio Espresso

To pull a doppio espresso:

  • Dose: Weigh out the coffee used to pull the double shot. The coffee should be weighed for consistency and precision. Depending on the beans used and desired taste, anywhere from 14 to 30 grams might be used.
  • Grind: Grind the beans fresh just before pulling the shot. Espresso grinds will degas and lose flavor very quickly, because they’re so fine and thus have so much surface area. Using an espresso grinder and calibrating it is ideal.
  • Tamp: Tamp the espresso grinds in a portafilter. Use the same pressure that would be used for a single espresso (20-30 pounds).
  • Pull: Load the portafilter into the group head. Pull the shot as normal, into a demitasse cup that’s large enough to accommodate up to 60 milliliters. Enjoy!

How to Drink a Doppio Espresso

Doppio espresso may be enjoyed however you prefer to drink espresso. Straight and as-is is common, but some people prefer to break the crema with a spoon. Alternatively, Cacao powder can be sprinkled on top after pulling, or lemon can be pushed along the cup before brewing.

How Much Milk is in a Double Espresso?

Doppio espresso is made without any milk. It serves as the coffee base for many dairy beverages, such as macchiato, cortado, cappuccino and latte.

How Much Cafe is in a Double Espresso?

Caffeine is extracted fairly early on in the brewing process, and most cafes use a similar amount of coffee even if they vary the pulled volume. Therefore, most doppios have comparable caffeine levels even if ratios vary. Levels can change slightly depending on whether a light or dark roast is used (dark roasts have less caffeine).

There are approximately 30 to 50 milligrams of caffeine in a single ounce of espresso, so a double shot will have between 60 and 100 milligrams.

For reference, an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee has about 100 milligrams on average. Few people drink only 8 ounces, though, and some cafes (e.g. Starbucks) have much higher caffeine levels in their coffee.

The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming 400 milligrams or less of caffeine, which equates to between 4 and 8 doppios. Espresso’s caffeine content tends to be much less than people expect.

Enjoy Doppio Espresso

You’ve likely enjoyed a double-shot if you’ve ever ordered an espresso or dairy beverage at a cafe. Try a doppio on its own, and see if you like the beverage.