Turbo shot espresso

Espresso Turbo Shots

Espresso Turbo Shots represent a modern twist in the ever-evolving world of coffee. Turbo shots are a response to the desire to optimize consistency and flavor in espresso. These shots were developed in a study that proposed pulling fast and short shots, known as “turbo shots,” to enhance flavor and consistency. 

Initially aimed at lighter roasts, turbo shots use a coarser grind than traditional espresso, flat-six-bar pressure, and a quicker extraction time. This technique was influenced by earlier methods like the allongé, which also experimented with different flow rates and extraction times. The evolution of turbo shots reflects a broader trend in the coffee industry to adapt and innovate for better flavor extraction, particularly for different types of roasts.

What Is A Turbo Shot?

Espresso shot

A turbo shot is a modern take on the traditional espresso shot, distinguished by a few key differences in its preparation. For example, a turbo shot utilizes a coarser grind size compared to the fine grind of traditional espresso. This difference in grind size allows for a more stable extraction process, reducing risks like channeling or choking in the coffee puck.

 Another difference is that the brewing pressure for a turbo shot is set around 6 bars, which is lower than the traditional 9 bars. Moreover, turbo shots have a significantly shorter brew time, typically around 15 seconds, compared to the 25-30 seconds for a traditional espresso shot.

This shorter brewing time for turbo shots not only saves time but also preserves and highlights the unique flavors of the coffee, resulting in a brighter, less dense, and more complex espresso experience. In contrast, traditional espresso shots, with their longer extraction time and higher pressure, tend to produce a richer and more velvety texture. 

This makes traditional shots more suitable for milk-based coffee drinks, whereas turbo shots might offer a less creamy indulgence in such beverages due to their thinner texture.

Turbo shots often reveal more vibrant and distinct flavors compared to traditional espresso, which might sometimes mask specific notes of the coffee. This characteristic of turbo shots makes them particularly appealing to those who enjoy straight black espresso.

Weird Coffee Tip: One of the keys to great espresso of any kind is proper puck prep, and using the right tools for this makes all the difference. Take a look at this article to find out which tools we reccommend for perfect espresso puck prep:
Top Espresso Puck Prep Tools: Essential For Home Brewing Success

Taste And Texture Of Turbo Shots

Turbo shot

The unique flavor profile and texture of turbo shots set them apart from traditional espresso shots. These differences stem from the specific brewing process of turbo shots, which involves a coarser grind, lower pressure, and a shorter extraction time.

Turbo Shot Flavor Profile

Turbo shots are known for their bright, less dense, and more complex flavors. This is achieved through the innovative brewing method which allows for a more efficient extraction of flavors. The medium grind size used in turbo shots ensures that water can evenly pass through the coffee grounds, extracting a balanced range of flavors. 

As a result, turbo shots often exhibit enhanced sweetness and clarity in taste, fully extracting all flavors from the coffee grounds and delivering a unique taste experience that might not be as pronounced in traditional espresso shots.

Turbo Shot Texture

The texture of turbo shots is another area where they differ significantly from traditional espresso. While traditional espresso is characterized by a rich, thick texture, turbo shots tend to have a thinner texture with a less dense mouthfeel. 

This difference is due to the lower pressure and shorter brewing time used in turbo shots. The process leads to a quicker extraction, which doesn’t produce the same viscosity and creamy texture typical of traditional espresso. 

This texture difference is particularly noticeable in milk-based espresso drinks, where the thicker texture of traditional espresso blends more smoothly with milk, while turbo shots might not offer the same creamy consistency.

Turbo shots provide a distinct coffee experience, with a pronounced flavor profile and a unique texture that stands apart from traditional espresso. While they might not be the first choice for those who prefer milk-based coffee drinks due to their thinner texture, they offer a brighter and more complex flavor that is particularly appealing for those who enjoy straight black espresso.

The Keys To Brewing Turbo Shots

Ground coffee in porta filter

The turbo shot is more about preserving and highlighting the unique coffee flavors, which makes it a brighter, less dense, and more complex espresso. This method is particularly good for straight espresso shots due to its unique flavor profile and texture.

The keys to a good turbo shot are the following:

  1. Coarse Grind Size: Use a coarser grind than you would for traditional espresso. The coarser grind helps in more stable extraction and reduces the risk of channeling or choking.
  2. Ideal Brew Ratio: Aim for a 1:2.6 ratio. For instance, if you use 15 grams of coffee grounds, target a yield of around 40 grams in 15 seconds. For a double shot, use 17 grams of grounds aiming for a 51-gram yield in about 18 seconds.
  3. Low Pressure and Brew Time: Brew the shot with about 6 bars of pressure, which is lower than the traditional 9 bars. The brew time should be around 15 seconds, which is faster than the traditional 25-30 seconds.
  4. Good Equipment: The grinder you use should be capable of producing a uniform coarse grind. Espresso machines capable of brewing at 6 bars are ideal.
  5. Increased Extraction: Expect more water to flow through the coffee grounds than in traditional espresso, leading to a greater breakdown and extraction of soluble compounds. The coarser grind allows for more even water distribution, enabling similar or even higher extraction yields compared to traditional espresso.

The Pros And Cons Of Turbo Shots

Turbo shot espresso

While turbo shots can offer a unique and consistent espresso experience with enhanced flavors, they might not be the best choice for milk-based beverages or for those who prefer a thicker espresso texture and darker roast flavors. 

The pros and cons of turbo shots in espresso making revolve around their unique extraction process and the resulting flavor and texture profile.

Pros Of Turbo Shots:

  • Increased Consistency and Repeatability: Turbo shots offer a more controlled and precise extraction process. This leads to more consistent flavors and quality in each shot, which is especially beneficial in commercial settings where consistency is key.
  • Enhanced Flavor Profile: These shots are known for their ability to bring out a sweeter and clearer-tasting espresso. The lower-pressure extraction process allows for optimal flavor development, ensuring that all flavors are fully extracted from the coffee grounds. This results in a balanced and flavorful espresso shot that highlights the nuances of the coffee beans.

Cons Of Turbo Shots:

  • Texture in Milk-Based Beverages: Turbo shots tend to have a thinner texture compared to traditional espresso shots. This might not be ideal for those who enjoy milk-based coffee drinks. Traditional espresso shots, with their thicker texture, generally mix better with milk, creating a smoother and creamier drink.
  • Not Suitable for Certain Preferences and Equipment: The turbo shot method accentuates lighter and fruity notes in the coffee, which might not be preferred by those who enjoy darker roasted coffee flavors like chocolate, nuts, or molasses. Additionally, the technique is not well-suited for a bottomless portafilter, as it can cause a mess due to the quicker flow.


double espresso shot

Turbo shots in modern coffee culture represent an innovative approach to espresso making, balancing the desire for efficiency with flavor. They provide a more consistent and repeatable brewing process, highlighting unique flavors with enhanced sweetness and clarity. However, turbo shots may not be the preferred choice for everyone, especially for those who favor milk-based drinks or a thicker espresso texture. 

The thinner texture of turbo shots and the emphasis on lighter, fruity coffee notes differentiate them from traditional espresso shots. Turbo shots encourage a more open-minded and experimental approach to espresso-making, allowing coffee enthusiasts to explore and personalize their coffee experience.

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