Espresso coffee is the most demanded out of several options available for coffee drinks, like lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, or americanos.
Especially beginners might not realize that espresso drinks come in several varieties; the most popular are ristretto and long shot.
If you are bored of regular espresso and it no longer excites you, you need to let it go and find a better companion.
A ristretto or a long shot can be a fantastic substitute for returning the charm to your dull coffee routine.
Ristrettos are made with shorter extraction times, while long shots, as the name suggests, are made with longer extraction times.
Despite having the same espresso base, these two drinks differ in water ratios, caffeine contents, recipes, aromas, and taste profiles.
Keep reading to know more regarding ristrettos and long shots: we have something for everyone, whether you’re a coffee novice or a seasoned barista!
- A ristretto and a lungo are espresso coffee’s variants.
- A ristretto coffee is shorter, and a lungo is longer than a standard espresso shot.
- A long shot of coffee and ristretto uses different volumes of water but the same amount of coffee grounds.
- The extraction time for both coffees determines their flavors and strength.
- You can use the same brewing equipment and ingredients to make a ristretto, a lungo, and a regular espresso shot.
Ristretto vs. Long Shot: At a Glance
Ristretto uses the same amount of coffee grounds but half the volume of water, while a long shot contains the same amount of grounds but twice the water volume.
Moreover, the grind size, the water volume, and the pulling time may vary. A ristretto has a sweeter, richer taste, whereas long shots are bitter but more flavorful.
Comparison between Ristretto vs. long shot
Let’s take a quick look at the differences and similarities between a ristretto and a lungo through the following table.
|Flavor Profile||Bold and strong flavor with notes of sweetness.||Mildly bitter and roasty flavor.|
|Brew Volume||15 ml||45 ml|
|Caffeine Content||63 mg||77 to 89 mg|
|Grind Size||Fine coffee beans||Coarse coffee beans|
|Pull Time||Upto 15 seconds||Upto 60 seconds|
|Texture||A thick and creamy texture.||A silky and smooth texture.|
|Aroma||Floral and earthy aromatic notes||Smokey and roasted aroma|
|Calories||0 calories||0 calories|
What is Espresso Brewing?
Ristretto and lungo (long shot) are two espresso variants, so before jumping to our main topic, let’s briefly go through some espresso details.
Espresso is a concentrated coffee brewed with hot water, high pressure, and finely ground coffee beans.
The espresso coffee tastes bitter and stronger than regular coffee, but it also depends on the roast and the brewing process.
It can be prepared using any coffee beans of your preference. Finer ground beans ensure the flavors and strength are completely extracted during brewing.
One espresso shot (30 ml) is prepared using 6 to 8 grams of coffee grounds and 36 ml of water to make the perfect concentrated drink, balancing the bitter flavor.
There are several brewing methods available to prepare espresso at home or commercially. The following are some of the most popular ways of brewing espresso:
1. An espresso machine
It makes delicious espresso if you follow all the steps properly. Espresso machines use pressure to extract ground coffee to prepare espresso. During brewing, hot water from the machine pushes through the ground coffee to extract its flavors into your cup.
Pod coffee machines are the newest addition, which require no measuring, grinding, or tampering coffee beans. It requires a coffee pod and water to brew the perfect espresso cup.
2. A French Press
A French press uses the immersion method to prepare espresso. Ground coffee is immersed in water and passed through a filter.
This brewing process makes robust and flavorful coffee by extracting oils from the coffee grounds. It is affordable and easy to use once you get the hang of it.
3. A Chemex
A Chemex uses an infusion method to prepare several cups simultaneously. Hot water is poured over coarse coffee grounds in a wiggling motion.
The water is poured several times after short intervals to soak the grounds completely.
It results in light-bodied and smooth coffee.
Everything you Need to Know About Ristretto
Ristretto means ‘restricted’ or ‘narrow,’ referring to the small volume of water and short extraction process of the ristretto coffee.
Water is pushed through the coffee grounds for almost 15 to 20 seconds. It results in concentrated coffee with a sweet and bold flavor.
It is not as acidic and bitter as espresso shots and not as sweet as a lungo. It is a full-bodied coffee that features a velvety and thick texture.
While the grind size and extraction time can affect the results, a ristretto generally has a 1:1 brew ratio, meaning a 15 to 20 ml drink is prepared with 18 grams of coffee.
The extraction also contributes to the strength and quality of the ristretto. Authentic ristrettos have a thick layer of brown foam covered in tiny bubbles called crema.
How to Make Ristretto
You can make a ristretto through any brewing technique, but the type of coffee beans, their grind size, and extraction time are crucial.
We recommend finely ground 100% Arabica beans or Robusta and pulling a shot for 15 to 20 seconds for best results.
- An espresso machine
- A coffee grinder
- Coffee grounds (7 to 9 grams)
Step 1: Prepare the coffee beans
The first steps require grinding the coffee beans. The correct grind size is important for brewed coffee’s best results.
The coffee grounds must be finer than those you use for espresso, so make them as fine as possible. The finer the beans are, the less water will pass through them.
After grinding, fill the filter of the espresso maker with coffee grounds and tamp them gently.
Step 2: The brewing process
- Turn on the espresso brewer and add fresh water to the reservoir.
- Attach the filter basket containing coffee to the machine.
- Once the machine heats up, the lights on the machine will become steady.
- Star the brewing process. Pull a shot for 15 seconds.
- Your ristretto coffee is ready!
Everything you Need to Know About A Long Shot
In Italian, a long shot is called a lungo, which means ‘long,’ making sense because a long shot equates to double espresso.
However, a long shot does not contain twice as much ground coffee as a double shot but twice the amount of water.
Despite being relatively diluted, the water still passes through the beans, leading to deeper extraction and a bitter, subdued taste.
A long shot requires a 1:3 brew ratio, meaning you need 7 to 9 grams of coffee to prepare one lungo shot (60 ml). Pulling a long shot for about 50 seconds results in the perfect lungo.
Due to longer extraction time, more coffee components and flavors, such as caffeine, are extracted, which may be diminished in espressos and ristrettos.
How to Make Long Shot
To make a lungo, you can use Arabica or Robusta beans or a mixture of both. The coffee beans must be coarser than those used for an espresso or a ristretto.
During prolonged extraction, the coarser ground beans will give you the perfect taste, or else the coffee will taste over-extracted.
- An espresso machine
- A coffee grinder
- Coffee beans (7 to 9 grams)
Step 1: Prepare the coffee beans
The first step will always be grinding the coffee beans to prepare a lungo. The right grind size will ensure that your drink has the right strength, texture, and flavor.
Grind the coffee beans with a medium to coarse setting to ensure that the coffee isn’t over-extracted. If you use fine beans, your lungo will taste bitter and burnt.
Once ground, add the ground coffee into the filter basket and tamp it.
Step 2: The brewing process
- Turn on your espresso machine.
- Fill the fresh water in the water tank.
- Put the filter containing coffee into the espresso brewer.
- Start the brewing process.
- Extract the coffee for upto 50 seconds.
- Dig into your lungo!
Ristretto vs. long shot: Side-by-side Comparison
Hopefully, you understand that pouring espresso into two cups will not make it a ristretto and that a double espresso doesn’t mean it’s a lungo. Have we got you further confused?
Let’s compare the ristretto and lungo side by side to have a clear picture.
Both drinks differ in appearance due to the volume, brew ratio, and extraction time.
A ristretto has a short pull time and less volume, resulting in a dark and umber-colored coffee with thick crema on the top.
On the other hand, a lungo has a longer extraction time, due to which the coffee has faded color. It is topped with a light but long-lasting golden crema.
Taste and Aroma
Both ristretto and lungo have unique flavor profiles and aromas.
A ristretto uses half the amount of water but the same quantity of coffee grounds as an espresso, so it has a rich and intense taste with a hint of sweetness. The earthy and floral aroma of the ristretto makes it even more delicious.
In a lungo, when the coffee beans are diluted with double the amount of water, it pulls out all its flavors and brings out a roasted aroma. A lungo has a more intense flavor taste due to prolonged extraction.
Coffee beans decide the nature of your coffee, so you should be cautious of their density rather than the roast. The denser the beans are, the sweeter and more flavorful the coffee will be.
We recommend medium to dark roast ground coffee with lower acidity for a ristretto. You can use robusta beans, originated from Africa, to have the perfect strong taste for your ristretto.
To make a well-balanced long shot, you can use Arabica beans, which contain more sugar than robusta beans. It will give your coffee a sweet taste to subside the bitterness caused by prolonged extraction.
Grind size is crucial for any coffee you prepare because it determines how the water pushes through the beans, extracting its flavors.
Fine coffee beans work the best for an excellent ristretto as it allows the water to push through them slowly. The coffee will be under-extracted and bitter if the beans are not finely ground.
For a lungo, the correct grind size is medium to coarse. Lungo uses coarse grounds because the brew time is longer, so if the water comes in contact with the coffee for a longer time, the taste will be burnt and bitter.
The brewing process might be the same for a ristretto and a lungo, but the difference in the extraction time and volume of water sets them apart.
A ristretto is made with the same amount of coffee grounds as an espresso and a lungo, but it uses half the amount of water. The water extracts the coffee within 15 to 20 seconds.
Lungo extracts coffee with double the amount of water. The extraction time is longer than ristretto and espresso, which is upto 60 seconds.
The extraction time makes both coffee different in flavor, strength, and texture.
The caffeine content varies according to the coffee beans’ origin, roasts, and how you prepare the coffee.
A ristretto has lower caffeine content than a lungo as it is smaller in volume and has a shorter extraction time.
A lungo has more caffeine than ristrettos and espressos because it uses more water to extract coffee grinds for a long period.
All types of coffee have acidic nature. The acidity of a coffee drink depends on the coffee beans used and how you prepare your drink.
A ristretto is shorter than a lungo, so it is less acidic. On the other hand, a lungo has higher acidity because it is brewed over a long period.
Ristretto vs. Lungo: Which One is Better?
Choosing between a ristretto and lungo depends on your preferences regarding flavor and strength.
A ristretto is a suitable alternative if you enjoy short, intense coffees but aren’t used to espresso’s bitterness.
You’ll appreciate the enhanced sweetness and intensity that comes with the just-right caffeine kick. A ristretto also makes delicious milk-based coffees like a cappuccino or a flat white.
Lungo shots might be a good middle ground for people looking for the complexity of espresso but want a bigger drink.
It is no surprise that many coffee enthusiasts prefer more bitter coffee, like a lungo, because it is bitter and bigger than espressos.
Differences Within More Espresso Variants
Espresso has a long list of variants; let’s see what differentiates them.
Ristretto Vs Espresso
- Ristretto uses half the volume of water compared to espresso.
- Espresso is biterer and bolder than a rsitretto.
- A ristretto has a shorter extraction time than an espresso.
Americano vs. Long Shot
- A lungo uses double the amount of water than espresso; on the other hand, an americano is just an espresso with hot water poured over it.
- A lungo is stronger than an americano and tastes bold and more bitter.
- A lungo has a longer brew time than an americano.
Espresso Vs. Americano
- An americano has a less concentrated flavor than an espresso.
- An Espresso and an americano have the same caffeine content.
- Americano and espresso differ in taste and volume of the beverage.
Double Espresso vs. Long Shot
- Double espresso means two shots of espresso, while a long shot is simply an espresso watered down.
- A lungo has a longer extraction time than a double espresso.
- A lungo is large in volume because it uses more water than a double espresso.
Are ristretto shots weaker?
No! A ristretto shot is stronger because it uses less water and has a short extraction period.
Do flat whites use ristretto shots?
Flat whites usually use two shots of ristretto or one shot of espresso.
Do you grind finer for ristretto?
Yes! Ristretto requires finely ground coffee for rich and flavorful coffee in a shorter brew time.
Can I make a ristretto with an espresso machine?
You can make a ristretto with any brewing method you would use for an espresso, including an espresso machine.
How long should a ristretto shot run for?
Pulling a shot between 15 to 12 seconds is the ideal brew time for a ristretto.
What is the blonde espresso at Starbucks?
Starbucks blonde espresso is prepared with lightly roasted coffee beans. It has a silky and smooth texture and a subtly sweet flavor profile.
How many calories are in a ristretto shot?
A ristretto shot has zero calories.