You’ve probably noticed that the espresso machine in your local coffee shop has two spouts, creating two separate streams of espresso as the coffee is brewed. And home espresso machines are often set up this way too.
This may seem strange when the espresso is poured into just one cup. So what’s going on? Why do espresso machines have two spouts?
Why Espresso Machines Have Two Spouts
The simple answer is that espresso machines have two spouts so that they can make two cups of espresso at once.
Rather than making one espresso, preparing a new basket of ground coffee, then brewing a second espresso, having two spouts means the espresso machine can make both simultaneously.
Do All Espresso Machines Have Two Spouts?
Not all espresso machines have two spouts. Some have two spouts, some have one, and some don’t have any spout at all.
It depends on what kind of spout you choose to attach to the portafilter, which is the part of the espresso machine that holds the basket of ground coffee.
The double spout is also known as a mustache spout, as it resembles the shape of a mustache.
To use this spout, you simply attach it to the portafilter, then make sure that you are using the two-shot filter basket. This is a larger filter basket that comes with most espresso machines and contains around 16-18g of ground coffee, compared to a single basket which would hold around 7-10g.
You can then choose whether to have both streams of espresso pour into one large cup or place two separate espresso cups side-by-side to make two separate shots.
A bonus of using a double spout is that it can help you to judge whether you are tamping down your coffee grounds correctly. If you are creating an even coffee ‘puck’ then when you pour your espresso into two cups using a double spout, both shots will be of equal size.
If you find that one shot is larger than the other, this is a sign that you need to work on how evenly you tamp the coffee grounds.
While you can buy single spouts for your espresso machine, there isn’t really much point in choosing this option.
As explained above, a double spout allows you to pour your espresso into one cup if you want to, so there’s really no need to use a single spout.
Also, even if you do want to have your espresso pour in just one stream rather than two, you would be better off using a naked (or bottomless) portafilter.
Naked or Bottomless Portafilters
A naked or bottomless portafilter is a portafilter without any spout attached.
The advantage of using a bottomless portafilter is that you can see the espresso dripping out of the basket, as there is no spout in the way. This is a great opportunity to observe how your coffee is pouring and refine your technique.
Bottomless portafilters also produce better crema on top of your espresso and keep it slightly hotter, as it doesn’t contact the cool metal spout while pouring.
The downside of using a bottomless portafilter is that there is less room for error and you need to get the grind size, dose, and tamping absolutely correct.
In Conclusion: Why Espresso Machines Have Two Spouts
Espresso machines often have two spouts because it gives you the option of making two espresso shots at once rather than having to brew each shot separately.
Crucially, the double spout – or “mustache spout” – allows you to do this, while still leaving you the option of having both streams of espresso pour into one cup if you prefer. This means that there’s really no downside to using a double spout – and no advantage to using a single spout – as it simply gives you the flexibility to make one shot or two.
If you’re looking to take your barista skills to the next level, it could be worth considering a bottomless portafilter. But if you’re just starting out on your coffee-making journey, a double spout is the way to go.
FAQ – Why do Espresso Machines Have Two Spouts?
Espresso machines have two spouts so that they can make two cups of espresso at once, rather than making one espresso, preparing a new basket of ground coffee, then brewing a second espresso.
Not all espresso machines have two spouts. Some have two spouts, some have one, and some don’t have any spout at all. It depends on what kind of spout you choose to attach to the portafilter, which is the part of the espresso machine that holds the basket of ground coffee.
I’m Joel, an espresso-loving coffee nerd. I got into coffee because I spent a lot of time in Milan as a kid and started liking coffee waaaay too young. I’m all about making sure espresso is treated with the same care as any other coffee – it’s not just a quick drink!