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Traditional Espresso Shot vs Ristretto Shot:
Which has more flavor?

Have you ever order something from the menu, and you didn’t know what one of the ingredients was?

Or not sure if it even was an ingredient?
It’s not uncommon to use context clues to try and determine the taste of a dish or drink that you don’t know all of the words in.

Enter ristretto.

Ristretto isn’t a flavor at all (although it does greatly affect the flavor). Ristretto is actually the way in which you prepare the espresso shot. ristretto is a short shot of espresso made with the normal amount of ground coffee but extracted with about half the amount of water. This is done by using a little finer of a grind of the beans. The result is a more concentrated shot of coffee per volume.

The opposite of a ristretto is a lungo, which is typically double the shot volume. Ristretto means “shortened” or “narrow” in Italian whereas lungo means “long.” The French equivalent of ristretto is café serré.

‘Ristretto shots can differ primarily from traditional espresso shots by: 

More concentrated: The first part of any extraction is the most concentrated, its color typically lying between dark chocolate and number, whereas the tail end of shots is much lighter, varying from the color of dark pumpkin pie to varying shades of tan (see photo, above right). This is an important factor when drinking straight espresso shots.

Different balance: Different chemical compounds in ground coffee dissolve into hot water at different rates. A ristretto contains a greater relative proportion of faster-extracting compounds, proportionally fewer of the compounds characteristic of over-extraction, and thus, a different balance.

Fewer total extracts: Relative proportions aside, fewer total coffee compounds—caffeine being just one—are extracted into ristrettos versus full-length shots. This is an important factor when diluting shots into water or milk.

Straight ristrettos

—shots that are traditionally drunk from a demitasse and not diluted into a larger cup containing milk or water—could be described as bolder, fuller, with more body and less bitterness. These characteristics are usually attributed to espresso in general but are more pronounced in a ristretto. Diluted into a cup of water (e.g. Americano or long black) or milk (e.g. latte or cappuccino), ristrettos are less bitter and exhibit a more intense “espresso” character. [1]

Because ristrettos are so small, we only offer it as a ‘double’ in our cafes. This is typical for most cafes.

To make this yourself, use a finer grind of roasted coffee beans. Pack the shot just as you would a traditional espresso shot, with around 17grams of ground beans. Finally, make sure to stop the shot just after 15 seconds.
– Of course, you will have to play with the proportions and timing to match the perfect water quality and equipment you may be using.

The end result is a sweeter and more concentrated extraction of espresso. Again, because of the shortened time that the beans are extracting, with less water, there is less room for bitterness and acidity.
– We recommend drinking it straight, without milk-based recipes.

Try it yourself and tell us about it on our insta account!