How to Make a Ristretto

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If you enjoy the flavour of espresso but sometimes find it too bitter, chances are you’ll love ristretto.

A ristretto is a short shot of coffee that is made with an espresso machine, just like an espresso. While it may look the same as an espresso shot, there are some key differences in both how it is made and also how it tastes.

Ready to learn more? Below, we explain the basics of a ristretto shot and how to make one at home.

What’s a Ristretto?

A ristretto is a regular espresso shot that has been extracted for a shorter period of time, hence the name (ristretto means restricted in Italian). It is made with the same amount of coffee as an espresso shot but uses half as much water and therefore has a shorter extraction time.

A ristretto shot is more concentrated than espresso and can feel heavier and bolder in the mouth. Ristretto shots are very popular with people that want what espressos can offer but dislike the bitter flavour.

A single ristretto shot will have less caffeine than a normal espresso shot, because the extraction time is shorter.

One of the advantages that ristretto offers is that, due to how easy and quick it is to extract it, coffee shops can play around and create drinks for all coffee lovers. An example of this drink is the Ristretto Bianco. The Ristretto Bianco resembles a latte but it is smaller in size. It is made with a double shot of ristretto and steamed milk to create a creamy consistency. This coffee delivers on many of the best characteristics of a latte but without as much milk.

Ristrettos can work as a singleristretto shot, a double ristretto, or sometimes even a triple or quadruple shot, for those that want an extreme coffee hit. Ritrettos are also great for people that are in a hurry, needing a quick caffeine fix that they can have in a single sip.

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How to Make a Ristretto

Ristretto shots are extremely easy to make with an espresso maker at home. Below we guide you step by step through the process needed to successfully pull a ristretto shot.

What you need:

  • An espresso machine
  • Coffee beans or coffee grounds with a fine grind size
  • A double basket
  • Short glass or mug

Step 1: Grind and Dose

Decide how concentrated you want your ristretto shot to be. A double ristretto is made with around 18 grams of coffee, the same as for a double shot of espresso.

Remember that your grind size should be the same as for espresso. The key is to use the same amount of coffee you’d use regularly with but less water.

Step 2: Tamp

Once you have placed the ground coffee into the basket, tamp to even out the coffee so that the group head can fit nicely into your espresso machine. Place your espresso cup on top of a scale and tare.

Step 3: Pull your Shot

Pull the shot while keeping an eye on your scale. A double ristretto shot should be roughly 25ml in volume and should weigh around 25g.

You do have the option of letting your shot run for longer, but it will start resembling an espresso.

Once you have the desired volume, your ristretto shot is ready to drink.

Step 4: Serve and Taste

If your ristretto shot has a bitter flavour, try adjusting the grind size for a finer grind or even changing the way you tamp.

If you are still feeling a little unsure of how it turned out, we encourage you to order one at your local coffee shop and compare it to the one you made at home.

Ristretto vs Espresso

The main difference between a ristretto and an espresso is the amount of water that is used. A ristretto uses less water than a shot of espresso (about half).

While your usual double espresso has a volume of around 60ml, a ristretto is usually around 25ml.

Ristretto coffee can stand alone as a shot or can be used for other drinks such as lattes, where you will end up with higher milk to coffee ratio.

Both the ristretto and the espresso need ground coffee that has a finer grind in order to be extracted properly with an espresso machine.

Ristretto vs Lungo

Just as ristretto is a shorter espresso shot, the lungo is long. A lungo is an espresso-based drink that is achieved by letting your extraction continue way past what you would normally for an espresso shot.

A double lungo tends to be around 80ml as it allows more filtered water to pass through the coffee grounds.

Out of the three, it is the drink that has more caffeine in it. A lungo has a more diluted mouth feel as well as a slightly more acidic taste.

The ristretto and the lungo are on the two opposite sides of extraction, one being extremely short with a heavy mouthfeel and less bitter taste while the other has a longer extraction process and is more acidic.

Ristretto FAQ

How much caffeine is in ristretto?

A ristretto of around 25 millilitres has between 35 to 65 milligrams of caffeine depending on the beans. In comparison to a regular espresso shot, a ristretto has less caffeine due to the fact that it is a shorter beverage. Out of the three variations that we discuss above (ristretto, espresso, and lungo), this one has the least amount of caffeine.

What is a ristretto served in?

A ristretto is usually served in a small glass, also known as demitasse. This cup has a capacity of 90 millilitres.

Is ristretto more bitter than espresso?

No, ristretto is less bitter than an espresso thanks to the method of extraction, which uses half as much water. You will find that a ristretto shot will be bolder and have more flavour than your average espresso, as all the profile notes are concentrated in a small drink.

Can you make a ristretto with a Nespresso?

Yes, you can make a ristretto shot using a Nespresso machine. Nespresso offers capsules that are specifically labelled for this drink. The Ristretto comes in 30 or 50 capsule boxes, each pod delivering around 25 millilitres of intensely roasted coffee.