How Much Should You Fill An Espresso Machine?

Is it your first time to brew, and you don’t know how much you should fill an espresso machine? Don’t worry; I’m here to help you understand how to go about it. By the end of this post, you shall be able to deliver a perfect espresso shot.

Use a ratio of 1:2 when brewing a standard espresso. That means, to extract a single shot (28ml/1 oz), you use around 14 grams of coffee grounds and 28 ml water. For Italian-style espressos, you brew a shot using about 7 grams of ground coffee.

What Is Espresso?

Espresso is a concentrated coffee drink of Italian origin. You serve it in small, bold shots. In most cases, it is a base for various coffee drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and mocha.

When brewing the coffee drink, hot water forces through closely packed, fine coffee grounds under pressure. As a result, you get an intense-flavored cup of coffee, better known as espresso.

How Much Should You Fill An Espresso Machine?

The ingredient ratios you fill in your espresso machine depend on whether you are making American-style espresso or Italian-style espresso. The two styles differ with regard to the amount of coffee grounds per brew cycle, the quantity of the brew, and even taste.

So, allow me to take you through the espresso ratios and size of each style.

American Style Espressos

Typically, the American style ratio for brewing espresso is 1:2. For a single gram of coffee grounds, you get 2ml of the brewed espresso.

The espresso’s standard serving size is 28ml/1 oz. Therefore, to extract a shot of espresso (28ml/1 oz), you need to place 14 grams of coffee grounds in the filter basket.

If you need to extract double espresso, you increase the coffee grounds to 28 grams, and the same applies to the resulting liquid.

The ratio of 1:2 is not constant, but it is a perfect starting point. Thereafter, you can make some adjustments to suit your preference. If you realize your espresso is too bitter, reduce the amount of coffee grounds.

In that case, it is vital to have a coffee scale. That way, you can weigh the amount of coffee grounds you place in the filter basket and the final liquid in your cup.

Italian Style Espressos

The traditional Italian style espresso has its brew ratios, different from the standard US ratios above. The serving quantities for Italian espressos are slightly smaller. For a shot of espresso, you use 7 grams of coffee grounds. Thus, the Italian style uses a ratio of 1:3.57.


Italian espressos use dark roasted coffee beans, and 20% of the coffee bean are Robusta. With the American-style espressos, you use Arabica beans, which are expensive but milder. The American style is also shifting towards the use of lighter roasted beans.

Due to that, Italian-style espressos tend to have an intense bitter taste with burnt notes. On the contrary, American-style espressos have a balanced taste, which is sweet and less sour.

You can try brewing both Italian and American-style espressos. Afterward, select the one you prefer most.

Also read: Espresso Machine Vs Coffee Machine

Selecting The Filter Basket Size For Brewing Your Espresso

Your espresso machine possibly came with several filter baskets of different sizes. To achieve the best results when brewing, ensure that the filter basket size you choose matches the quantity of coffee grounds you plan to use.

If you use a big filter basket with little coffee grounds, it will loosen your coffee bed. Therefore, it will fail to create enough resistance to generate the high pressure needed to brew espresso properly.

On the other hand, if you decide to use a small filter basket packed hard with many coffee grounds, it can develop excess resistance thus, resulting in channeling. It means water will create a tunnel through your coffee bed. Thereafter, water will flow via the tunnel without getting in touch with the coffee grounds.

Luckily, most filter baskets have a number indicating the coffee grounds grams to use. You may not find the exact match but opt for the closest one. However, if your filter baskets lack size labels, you may think of an amount they can hold.

How To Brew a Perfect Espresso Shot With An Espresso Machine

Since you now know how much to fill in an espresso machine, let’s now brew the espresso. You may decide to use the American style ratios or the Italian style ratios. Either way, you will extract a perfect shot.

What You Will Need

  • An espresso machine
  • Coffee grinder
  • Roasted espresso beans
  • Coffee scale
  • Espresso tamper
  • A portafilter


Follow these steps when brewing espresso:

1. Turn On Your Espresso Machine To Preheat

Before you start brewing, ensure that your espresso machine is warmed up. Some espresso machines can preheat for up to 25 minutes. To speed up the process, pull out a blank shot without the espresso grinds.

2. Measure And Grind Your Espresso Beans

Set your grinder to give your espresso beans a fine grind size. Afterward, put the portafilter on the coffee scale and tare the scale. Pour in about 14 grams of ground coffee and use your hand to level it up.

3. Tamp Your Coffee Grounds To Flatten The Bed

Here, you press your coffee grounds down using a tamper. Continue tamping until the coffee grounds won’t settle anymore. Make sure you create a level top.

4. Extract Your First Shot

Set your timer to see how long it will take to pull out your shot. It should be between 20-30 seconds. If you have reached this point, you should be having your rich, dark, and tasty espresso.

If you like, you can drink your shot of espresso. If not, use the steam wand to heat and froth your milk and make your preferred specialty drink.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Final Thoughts

As a beginner, it is vital to know how much you should fill an espresso machine. It involves understanding the ratio of coffee grounds to water when brewing. That way, you avoid over-extracting or under-extracting your brew. As a result, you create a perfect espresso.