What Is A Dead Espresso Shot? 5 Things You Should Know

Anyone who sips espresso is probably informed of the phrase “dead espresso shot”. The notion would be that an espresso coffee must be consumed right after it has been brewed, and after that, it would quickly degrade, eventually becoming non-consumable and termed dead. But is it really deemed dead?

Once the warmth of an espresso coffee drops as well as the crema, the body and the heart change the texture and flavor profile of a cup. A dose of espresso shot dies in about 2 to 3 minutes, compared to 10 seconds as several large coffee establishments claim.

Given that an espresso coffee takes approximately 24 seconds to produce, this thought of it expiring after only 10 seconds has no logic. Several think it’s only a hoax created mostly by coffee shop employees to end up making them work efficiently. But who knows, right?

What Is A Dead Espresso?

Whenever you inquire how long it would take for an espresso coffee to die, you’ll get a range of different answers. Others suggest just a few minutes, another claim 30 seconds, but most coffee connoisseurs believe 10 seconds.

Once an espresso shot has rested for too long it tastes horrible and is said to be dead. Therefore if your espresso is still drinkable, that’s not dead.

Dead Espresso – Brief History

Espresso coffee is designed to be savored among family and friends.  Don’t drink it in a hurry!

The belief began after Starbucks, known for its own subpar coffee, began informing staff that the shot of espresso expires after 10 seconds. But would it matter whether you consume newly brewed and high-caliber coffee beans in 10 seconds? Not at all.

Though this 10-second principle is fiction, the concept is working. Allowing your espresso shot to rest on a table for too long will cause its flavor to degrade. 

Reasons Why Espresso Shot Is Considered Dead

Espresso Crema

Enthusiasts would argue that crema disappears in 10 seconds and thus the coffee must be prepared and enjoyed inside this time period to have it in its ideal state.

It might sound right inside a laboratory setting, but in practice, it’s impossible.

Oxidation Phase

It is the oxidation phase, not just the loss of crema, that affects the taste of the espresso coffee.

Crema, if created properly, will stay more than 10 seconds, potentially a few minutes, which is far more acceptable for a coffee shop environment. Only when the crema has been removed does oxidation occur.

It is a gradual process rather than an instant one. As a result, you have about 2 to 3 minutes to savor your drink at its best.

Time And Temperature

Top-tier bartenders don’t believe in the 10-second guideline, since they recognize that when coffee is delivered excessively hot, the user will become more conscious of warmth than of delicate aromas.

What Does Dead Espresso Shot Taste Like?

A fresh espresso must taste bittersweet, and syrupy. An espresso coffee that has been kept out for about 2 to 3 minutes has a different flavor.

Once you sip the coffee, you’ll notice it has a similar viscous consistency as before, however, the taste will be somewhat charred, with an ash-like aroma. If this happens, then your espresso beverage is indeed a stale coffee.

Several Ways To Make Your Espresso Last Longer

Here are a few tips on how to keep your espresso alive longer:

  • Wash your cup using hot water prior to pouring the hot coffee to maintain the temperature stable.
  • Create cold sweetened espresso coffee, like iced latte, which may be stored for many hours
  • Freeze the espresso coffee in a tightly sealed jar to be used in cold beverages afterwards.
  • Make an iced espresso americano by adding ice and a little water. You can also add syrups for diverse flavor and to sweeten your cup. 


The ten-second standard is an oversimplification that must not be considered scientific fact.

Although your espresso shot will not expire after only a few seconds, it will taste different after a few minutes. Make sure to consume it while it’s warm and delicious.