What You Wanted to Know About Ristretto Coffee

crazy by Editorial Staff | Updated on July 9th, 2022

Isn’t ordering more coffee better? If you cannot leave a coffee shop without enough coffee, you may wonder why someone would order less coffee. However, there is a reason why you see some people ordering less. They love Ristretto.

What is a Ristretto?

Ristretto means “restricted” in Italian and is a short shot of espresso that is made with less water and finely ground beans. By ordering a ristretto shot, a barista limits the number of espresso shots in your coffee to one full-length espresso shot. The result is a smaller, more concentrated, and sweeter brew. 

Ristretto is not bitter because of the short extraction time. It is also known as Corto in Italy. In other parts of the words, you may hear people referring to it as a short black coffee. Compared to espresso, Ristretto has more caffeine, hence stronger.

How much caffeine content is in Ristretto Coffee?

The caffeine concentration of ristretto coffee is comparable to that of normal espresso. This is because both shots contain the same amount of coffee, and caffeine is extracted early in the brewing process.

While the total caffeine content is nearly the same, Ristretto contains more caffeine per milliliter due to the lower volume of the shot. (The caffeine content of a regular single espresso ranges from 29 to 100 mg.)

The Ristretto’s History


While Ristretto is a particularly Italian way of describing coffee, David Schomer of Espresso Vivace in Seattle popularized it in the United States. In the early 1990s, a double ristretto became the specialty standard here. “The beauty of Caffe espresso is the capacity to keep the scent of the roast, and caramelized sugars, through the brewing process into a thick chiffon with a silky mouth-feel,” says David Schomer.

Ristretto Coffee

He did it with a ristretto shot weighing no more than two ounces for a double shot and no more than an ounce for a single shot. The particular mix he suggests calls for 20 grams of coffee, extracted in 27 to 35 seconds at a volume of 20 to 25 milliliters. Ristretto has been written about in other publications, but none of them describe it as well as Schomer.

What Is The Best Way To Drink A Ristretto?

To experience the essence of Ristretto, you must forego your frothy milk. This is because Ristretto is traditionally consumed as a black shot. However, depending on your preferences, you can use a double or single ristretto.

Who is Ristretto for?

If you already enjoy espresso or a strong cup of coffee, a Ristretto is the type of coffee you should try.

With less water and greater kick, you’ll get a different experience than with a typical double espresso.

If you’ve never tried it before, it’s well worth a shot.

Tasting and serving ristretto coffee

Today you can enjoy many variants of Ristretto, including vanilla, hazelnuts, Bianco, and other flavors. So, don’t be surprised when you taste a different flavor next time you order a ristretto.

You can enjoy Ristretto with a bitter, fruity, and intense espresso aroma or add milk or water. Undiluted Ristretto is commonly known as straight Ristretto.

If you dilute your Ristretto with water, you get Americano. On the other hand, adding milk gives you a cappuccino or a latte.

Serve Ristretto hot. You can perfectly combine it with some biscuits or vanilla ice cream.


Lungo is another type of espresso shot. Many coffee lovers will tell you it is a larger espresso because of the double amount of the used water. More water is passed through the espresso machine resulting in a less strong brew than espresso. If you add water after brewing, you will not drink Lungo, so be careful. Only add water when brewing, not after.

So, what is the difference between espresso, Ristretto, and Lungo?

The difference between the three is clear. Ristretto is a condensed or smaller espresso, while Lungo is a larger espresso. This is because less water makes Ristretto smaller, and more water used to brew Lungo makes it a larger espresso.

Among the three, a ristretto is the stronger brew, while Lungo is less strong. 

What makes Ristretto different?

  • The pressure on coffee beans in portafilter is harder
  • The coffee beans are ground more finely
  • The process of extraction is significantly reduced

Ristretto vs. Espresso: the breakdown

  • Quantity: Ristretto requires smaller amounts of water; a shot is around ¾ ounce. Espresso is about 1 oz.
  • Extraction process: They go through the same espresso machine; however, Ristretto requires less water and, in turn, less time.
  • Extraction time: Brewing a ristretto takes about 10 – 15 seconds. While espresso is made double the amount of time, taking about 20 – 30 seconds.
  • Flavor: Ristretto has a bolder taste due to the short extraction time. However, coffee is also notorious for natural and slightly chocolate flavors, which is missing in a ristretto. An espresso shot delivers all dark, creamy, natural coffee flavors.
  • Caffeine levels: Since a single ristretto is smaller than espresso, it typically contains less caffeine. But when you equate both drinks using the same amounts, the Ristretto contains more caffeine per ounce.

What makes Ristretto sweeter than Espresso?

The sweetness of the brew is one of the most appealing qualities of Ristretto. However, many individuals are unaware that sweetness has nothing to do with added ingredients like sugar or cream.

The flavor is a result of the short extraction time. It makes it bolder and reduces the number of harsh components that get through. However, the caffeine content is reduced because of the shorter extraction period. By reducing the extraction period, you only receive the grounds’ first, most flavorful, and sweet sections. This removes the bitter elements.

Ristretto vs Lungo vs Espresso

Ristretto and Lungo are not two distinct coffees. They both have in common that they are both espresso-based coffee beverages. The duration of the extraction in the brewing process makes the difference. What appears to be complicated and perplexing at first can be explained and fixed rather quickly.

Here is the comparison table to provide some information:

Drink typeCoffee mgWater mlBrewing timeStrengthCaffeine content
Ristretto9-12mg15-20ml15-17 seconds12%25-30mg
Espresso9-12mg30ml25-30 seconds8-12%50-70mg
Lungo9-12mg50-70ml45-60 secondsup to 8%70-100mg

Ristretto vs. Lungo vs. Espresso: Taste difference

Those who can’t decide between basic espresso, Lungo, and Ristretto could do a taste test to understand the tiny differences better. The difference in the preparation methods available with Nespresso is mostly determined by the grind, roast, and blend. While the coarsely ground Lungo is ideal for a longer processing time, the Ristretto glides into the cup with a fragrant aroma in just a few moments. And it does so with a lot less liquid.

When comparing the coffee brewed by Ristretto, classic espresso, and Lungo, the Ristretto has the least, and the Lungo has the most. The basic espresso falls somewhere in the middle. This also explains why many coffee experts regard Ristretto as the most complex of all coffees.

Nonetheless, the distinction can be ‘tasted’ by anyone, not just the connoisseur. If you enjoy espresso, you will quickly learn to recognize the subtleties of its flavor if you dare to drink a highly concentrated coffee, as is typical of true Italian Ristretto. A lungo, on the other hand, is a softer, less full recipe. Each has its aromatic advantages.

What is a Ristretto Bianco?

Ristretto Bianco is a café latte prepared using ristretto rather than espresso. A latte is a sweet coffee drink made with one shot of espresso and around eight ounces of steaming milk. If you don’t want the froth on top, you must request a ‘flat white,’ which is essentially the same coffee.

Because coffee servings are greater in the United States, lattes are frequently prepared with a double shot of espresso.

So ristretto Bianco is a café latte created with a double or quadruple shot of Ristretto, steamed milk, and froth poured on top. It is excellent, but the coffee also works well to provide a pick-me-up. Because lattes are often sweet drinks, a well-made ristretto shot will undoubtedly enhance the genuine flavor of lattes.

How to make ristretto coffee

There are two most common ristretto recipes.

Depending on the equipment you have, you can make coffee in different ways. For now, let’s go through the two common methods.

What you will need to make a ristretto

Espresso maker

An espresso machine is required to make a ristretto shot. You may also use ristretto capsules in a Nespresso machine.

The coffee grinder

The flavor of a ristretto shot contributes significantly to its enjoyment. Because there are only two ingredients in a ristretto shot (coffee and water), grind your coffee fresh or use the freshest ground coffee.

roasted coffee beans

The best coffee is freshly ground coffee that has rested for 7-14 days.

Water that has been filtered

To make a better-tasting cup of coffee, use filtered water.

First method

This method requires brewing 30ml of coffee and maintaining the pour time of a standard cup of espresso.


  • Adjust your grind as fine as the machine allows. The finer grind reduces the extraction time.
  • Measure around 14g of coffee and tamp. Once you get started, make sure to pay special attention to the timing of the extraction. In about 30 seconds, your Ristretto will be ready.
  • Serve hot, and enjoy!

Second method

Even though this method does not provide a perfect taste of coffee as the first method, it is still a great way to prepare your brew. In addition, this method is convenient for making Ristretto on an espresso machine based on pressurized filters.


  • Adjust your grind as fine as the machine allows and tamp.
  • Once you start, wait until you get 30ml coffee or a double ristretto.
  • Enjoy your drink.

As you can see, you wait until you get double Ristretto. This means you get espresso that is halfway stopped. In other words, the final drink will not be as syrupy and dense as the taste and texture of a real ristretto. It is for that reason this method is not recommended.

Making a Ristretto using a Nespresso machine

Is it possible to get a ristretto shot from a Nespresso machine?

Yes, Nespresso sells ristretto capsules, described as full-bodied, rich, and created with less water than an espresso.

[amazon bestseller=”ristretto capsules” items=”3″ template=”table”]

The default setting on most Nespresso machines is 40ml of water for an espresso and 110ml for a lungo.

If you want to make your espresso ristretto, change the espresso option to supply less water.

Most Nespresso machines require you to press and release a single button to dispense the coffee once the capsule has been placed.

Instead of pressing and releasing the button to make a Ristretto with a Nespresso machine, press and hold the button and only release it when you have the proper amount of water for a Ristretto.

When you release the button, that amount of water will be given automatically every time you press and release it, allowing you to enjoy a Ristretto instead of an espresso if you want.

If you want to be sure, place a tiny measuring jug beneath the coffee outlet and press and hold the button without inserting a coffee capsule. After measuring 30ml of water, release the button, and your machine will be preset for Ristretto.

How to make a Ristretto in a Moka Pot

This is the easier of the two brewing guides to follow, and brew Your Dream Coffee along the way. When compared to the AeroPress, making great coffee requires fewer steps.

Begin by pulverizing 35 grams of coffee into a fine coffee powder. This quantity of coffee will fill the Moka filter cup. Using this amount of coffee, the water that flows through will be set up for the best possible extraction. So let’s get this party started:

  • Bring a cup of water to a boil, and if you haven’t already, grind your coffee beans.
  • Fill the filter bucket halfway with ground coffee beans and gently press them down into the filter to create a flat coffee bed. This will, once again, aid in the best possible extraction of your coffee.
  • Fill the bottom chamber of the Moka pot with hot water and place the coffee-filled filter on top.
  • Twist the top of the Moka pot onto it and set it on medium heat on your burner.
  • You can leave the Moka pot’s cover open to view what you’re doing.
  • The steam that forms inside the bottom compartment will force water through the filter, leaving you with delicious full-bodied coffee.
  • The most important step is to ensure that there is not too much water passing through the filter.
  • When about 1/4 of the water has flowed through the Moka pot, remove it from the stovetop. This is the most critical step in making a ristretto rather than espresso.
  • You must use more water to get the steam in the bottom chamber to build up; else, you will have to wait a long time to enjoy your coffee.
  • After taking the Moka pot off the heat, pour the coffee into your favorite cup(s) and enjoy! Don’t forget to clean it before using it again.

How to brew a Ristretto with an AeroPress

Begin by grinding 17 grams of coffee beans to a fine/medium grind size for this fantastic AeroPress coffee. The grind size that I prefer is as follows:

Let’s get started on the brewing instructions now. There won’t be many steps to take, and I’ll walk you through them. Hold on tight and begin at the top:

  • Begin by bringing a cup of water to a boil.
  • Fill the cylinder of the AeroPress with freshly ground coffee beans. Set the cylinder on top of a coffee cup. The coffee cup will collect all of that delectable coffee.
  • Pour 25 grams of water into the coffee-filled cylinder after the water has reached a boil. When measuring the amount of water, it is advisable to use a scale. As a result, you will have the greatest coffee possible.
  • Be careful to soak all the coffee grounds and stir the coffee for 10 seconds using AeroPress’s stirring wand.
  • Place the second cylinder on top of the first and slowly press down.
  • Stop pressing and remove the cylinders from your cup after you hear a tiny hissing sound.
  • You’ve now prepared some delectable coffee! Brew careful to clean your AeroPress before using it to make coffee or use it to make a coffee recipe.

Ristretto at Starbucks

If you order a ristretto shot at Starbucks, the barista will pull your shot shorter, which means less water will pass through the espresso machine. As a result, the final shot is typically sweeter and syrupier. There is no additional charge for requesting a ristretto shot.

Ristretto can be used to make any espresso drink. You can, for example, have an Iced Caramel Macchiato made with Ristretto rather than espresso.

You can tailor your drinks with the number of ristretto shots, just like you can with espresso shots.

Why drink a ristretto?

Drinking Ristretto has many health benefits, including boosting our immune system and reducing stress. Just remember not to go overboard as that can provoke some side effects.


Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.