single, double and naked shots

posted: november 2014

at white label, we brew our espresso shots ‘double naked’. this way of brewing espresso is steadily becoming the standard in most specialty coffee cafes. so what does this brewing double naked mean, and how does it improve our daily cup?

for some time, the singleshot portafilter has been banned from specialty coffee cafes because the shape of its basket leads to an uneven extraction and makes it really hard to make consistently good shots. using only the double shot filterbasket and its accompanying portafilter has become standard practice since. the next portafilter revolution is all about removing the spouts and brewing ‘double naked’ shots.

as you can see from the graphic, brewing double naked shots means using a double shot filterbasket clicked into a bottomless - naked - portafilter. the naked portafilter provides us with two main advantages.

first off, the naked portafilter reveals the process of espresso extraction. one can actually see the coffee being extracted and thereby monitor and improve the quality of shots. for example, ‘channeling’ is a major error that is easily detected using the naked portafilter. channeling occurs when the coffee bed is unevenly tamped or otherwise disrupted. because espresso is made under high pressure and water always follows the path of least resistance, the water will find a weak spot - channel - in the coffee bed and will rush through instead of properly extracting the coffee. with the naked portafilter we can immediately spot a channel, whereas this remains hidden behind the spouts of the traditional portafilter.

a second advantage is that the double shot of espresso falls directly in the cup without being disrupted by the portafiter spouts. this saves heat and also leads to a better preservation of the crema and therefore a slightly sweeter, thicker, creamier, and rounder shot.

so these are the main reasons why we only brew our shots double naked at white label. this also means that every cup at white label holds a double shot of espresso and that brings with it a third advantage: less waste. because a lot of specialty cafes brew only double shots, but also offer single shot espresso beverages, the unused shots are largely wasted. offering double shots as a rule means you don’t have to direct any of your carefully brewed coffee into the sewer system.

of course, in some occasions people might prefer less than the full double naked shot of espresso because they’ve had too much caffeine earlier in the day, or because they’re looking for a less strong coffee taste in their milk coffee. in these cases, we happily prepare the prefered beverage but brew the espresso shot double naked anyway, we don’t mind drinking the other half ;)