Do Espresso Shots Die? How Fast To Drink Espresso Explained.

 Last Updated May 24, 2024

Ever heard that an espresso shot dies seconds after it’s made? This myth has had coffee lovers burning their tongues as they down their shots asap.  But let's break it down: Is there any truth to this? Or have we all been duped by coffee folklore?

Do espresso shot die?

When will your espresso die?

The Short Answer: Do Espresso Shots Die?

The short answer is: yes, espresso shorts do start to taste bad after a while, but it's not straight away, and they definitely don't "die" seconds after they're made. In fact, espresso can taste even better when it cools down as the heat can mask flavors. Especially light roasted coffee. 

So how did this myth first get started? And when is the optimal time to drink your espresso?

Let's dig deeper.

The Myth Extracted

The story goes like this: pull an espresso shot and you've got seconds—maybe up to a minute—before it turns from heavenly to barely drinkable.


It's all about the crema, that golden, creamy layer.

It's said to hold the essence of the coffee, which supposedly starts fading the moment it meets air.

Ristretto and Espresso

You can see the crema sitting on top of these espressos.

But this is false.

Crema has little effect on the taste of the coffee.

In fact, if you make an espresso, quickly taste it, and then wait for the crema to dissipate, you'll find that the coffee tastes the same.

What Do Experts and Baristas Say?

When we look at what coffee experts and the coffee community says about espresso dying the overwhelming voice is that the taste of the espresso is not tied to how fast you drink it. 

Rather, it's more important how you brew it —the espresso beans, the grind, the temp.

However heat can hide some flavor of an espresso, so it you made an especially bad coffee, the heat may hide some of the grossness.

But the idea of espresso "dying" quickly is a bit overblown.

Yes, espresso changes over time, but not necessarily for the worse. In fact, it can taste even better as it cools, as heat can hide subtle tasty flavors.

Bottomless portafilter extracting espresso

One fresh espresso please.

Flavor Evolution, Not Death

Taste is subjective. What some see as flavor loss, others might find as flavor evolution.

An espresso shot changing over a few minutes doesn't mean it's dead—just different.

Maybe even better, allowing you to catch nuances you'd miss in a hurried sip. 

Temperature has a big impact on how we taste. 

How Long Is Too Long To Wait To Drink Your Espresso?

So, the big question: gulp down your espresso or take your sweet time?

The modern coffee lover's verdict leans towards enjoying your espresso at your own pace.

Fresh is great, but a minute or two won't spoil the magic.

It’s more about the experience than a stopwatch. 

So you can let your espresso sit for a good 5 minutes or more and it will still taste good.

If an espresso for a longer time, let say, such as beyond 10 minutes, it might start to lose some of its characteristic flavors. The crema will dissipate, and the espresso can cool down to a point where the flavors become less pronounced and more bitter notes may emerge. Additionally, as the espresso cools and interacts with air, oxidation affects the aromatic compounds, altering the taste profile.

So my recommendation, is take your time, 5-10 minutes wont impact the taste much. After 10 minutes then elements will start to impact the flavor for better or worse.

The real story is making sure you make your espresso well. Then all your espresso based drinks from cappuccinos to lattes will taste good.

The only caveat would be if you're using your espresso to make latte art, then I recommend pouring sooner rather than later as you will get a better contrast in your cup.

The Bottom Line 

The espresso shot myth is just that—a myth. It's a reminder of how rich and complex coffee culture is.

Whether you're a quick sipper or a slow enjoyer, what matters is the joy and flavors you get from every cup. 

So what do you think? Do you think you need to drink your espresso asap? Or do you think there is a set deadline before it goes bad? Feel free to leave a comment below.

About The Author 

Ivan Bez

Ivan is the founder of Latte Art Guide and a barista with 10 years of experience. He loves coffee and aims to help people improve their coffee making skills.

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