Ristretto Vs. Long Shot: The Key Differences

Ristretto Vs. Long Shot: The Key Differences

When it comes to the world of espresso, there are various terms that coffee enthusiasts often come across. Two such terms that frequently emerge in espresso conversations are “ristretto” and “long shot.” While both of these espresso variations offer unique characteristics and flavors, they are quite different from each other. In this article, we will explore the difference between long shot and ristretto, shedding light on their brewing methods, flavors, and serving sizes. 

Understanding Ristretto and Long Shot

It is essential first to grasp what each term represents to comprehend the dissimilarities between ristretto and long shot.

Ristretto, derived from the Italian word “restricted” or “limited,” is an espresso shot with a smaller volume than a regular espresso. It uses the same amount of coffee grounds but restricts the water flow, resulting in a concentrated and intense flavor.

On the other hand, a long shot, sometimes referred to as a lungo, is an espresso shot made with a larger volume of water. It allows more water to pass through the coffee grounds, resulting in a milder and more bland flavor than a regular espresso.

Coffee beans for ristretto are ground finely to create a compact and densely packed coffee puck. This finer grind size ensures a slower water flow during extraction, resulting in a more concentrated and intense flavor.

In contrast, coffee beans for lungo are ground slightly coarser to accommodate the longer extraction time. The coarser grind allows water to flow more freely through the coffee puck, preventing over-extraction and a bitter taste. This results in a milder and more balanced flavor profile for the lungo shot.

What Coffee Beans Are Used for Ristretto and Lungo? 

When brewing the perfect cup of ristretto or lungo, the choice of coffee beans plays a significant role in achieving the desired flavors and aromas. The selection of coffee beans for each espresso variation can greatly impact the taste profile and overall experience. Let’s explore the types of coffee beans commonly used for ristretto and lungo.


Ristretto shots are known for their bold and concentrated flavors, so the choice of coffee beans is crucial to achieving the desired intensity. Generally, espresso blends with a rich and robust character are preferred for ristretto shots. These blends often consist of a combination of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans.

Arabica beans, known for their nuanced flavors and acidity, contribute to the complex taste profile of ristretto. They often provide notes of chocolate, caramel, and fruitiness, adding depth to the shot. Robusta beans, on the other hand, bring a stronger and more bitter taste to the blend. They enhance the body and crema of the ristretto, providing a fuller mouthfeel.


Lungo shots, which involve a longer extraction process and a larger volume of water, require a different approach when selecting coffee beans. The aim is to find beans that can withstand the extended brewing time without becoming overly bitter or harsh.

For lungo shots, milder and more balanced coffee blends are typically favored. Arabica beans take center stage in these blends, offering a smoother and more delicate flavor profile. Arabica beans often showcase notes of nuts, fruits, and floral undertones, providing a pleasant and nuanced experience. These beans bring a subtle complexity to lungo shots, ensuring a well-rounded and satisfying cup of coffee.

It’s worth noting that personal preferences and regional variations can influence the choice of coffee beans for ristretto and lungo. Some coffee enthusiasts may prefer single-origin beans for a distinct flavor profile, while others may opt for specific blends that align with their taste preferences.

Ristretto vs. Lungo: Brewing Methods

The brewing methods for ristretto and long shot differ significantly, leading to variations in taste and aroma.

Ristretto Brewing:

A barista extracts a smaller amount of liquid to prepare a ristretto shot by reducing the brewing time. This is achieved by grinding the coffee beans finely and tightly packing them into the portafilter. The water is then forced through the grounds at high pressure for a shorter duration, resulting in a rich, syrupy consistency and a robust flavor profile.

Long Shot Brewing:

Contrary to ristretto, a long shot requires a larger volume of water to be passed through the coffee grounds. The brewing time is extended by grinding the coffee beans coarser and adjusting the grind size accordingly. This allows for a slower extraction process, resulting in a larger volume of liquid with a milder taste and less intensity.

Long Shot or Ristretto: Flavor Profile

The primary point of distinction between ristretto shot vs. long shot lies in their flavor profiles, offering coffee lovers different sensory experiences.

Ristretto Flavor:

Ristretto shots are known for their bold and concentrated flavors. Due to the limited water flow during brewing, ristretto shots have a higher coffee-to-water ratio, resulting in a rich and intense taste. Ristretto shots often exhibit notes of chocolate, caramel, and dark fruits, offering a robust and complex flavor profile.

Long Shot Flavor:

In contrast, long shot espresso has a more bland flavor due to the increased water volume used during the extraction. This results in a milder taste with less concentration. Long shots typically have a smoother and lighter profile, with subtle flavors of nuts, citrus, and floral undertones. The extended extraction process allows for the extraction of different compounds, leading to a different aromatic experience.

Ristretto or Long Shot: Serving Size

Another aspect that sets ristretto and long shot apart is the serving size or the amount of liquid produced from each brewing method.

Ristretto Serving:

A ristretto shot is traditionally served in a smaller cup or demitasse containing around 0.5 to 1 ounce (15-30 ml) of liquid. The smaller serving size ensures a more concentrated flavor, providing an intense and quick espresso experience.

Long Shot Serving:

At the same time, a long shot is typically served in a larger cup containing around 2 to 3 ounces (60-90 ml) of liquid. The increased water volume results in a larger serving size, making it a preferred choice for those who enjoy a milder and less concentrated espresso experience.

Long Shot vs. Ristretto: Which Is Stronger? 

When it comes to espresso, strength is a crucial factor for many coffee lovers. Two popular espresso variations often come into play when discussing the strength of the long shot and the ristretto. But which one is stronger? Let’s delve into the details and find out.

In terms of intensity, ristretto takes the lead. Ristretto shots are known for their concentrated flavor and bold character. The brewing method involves extracting a smaller amount of liquid using the same amount of coffee grounds as a regular espresso. This results in a higher coffee-to-water ratio, packing a punch of robustness into a compact serving size. The limited water flow during brewing allows the flavors to be extracted more intensely, leading to a strong and full-bodied espresso experience.

On the other hand, long shots are generally milder in strength compared to ristretto. The long shot brewing method involves extracting a larger volume of water through the coffee grounds, resulting in a more diluted flavor. The extended extraction process leads to a smoother taste with less concentration, making it a preferred choice for those who enjoy a less intense espresso experience.

It’s important to note that strength can be subjective, as it depends on personal taste preferences. Some individuals may prefer the boldness and intensity of a ristretto shot, while others may find the milder taste of a long shot more appealing. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to personal preference and your espresso’s desired level of strength.

Is Ristretto Stronger than Espresso?

The question of whether ristretto is stronger than espresso often arises among coffee enthusiasts. To clarify, a ristretto is a type of espresso shot, so it is important to understand the distinction between them. While ristretto and espresso share similarities, ristretto is generally considered stronger in terms of flavor and intensity.

Ristretto shots are made using the same coffee grounds as a regular espresso but with a smaller volume of water. The brewing process involves restricting the water flow, resulting in a shorter extraction time. This concentrated extraction yields a more robust and intense flavor profile. Ristretto shots are known for their boldness and ability to showcase the full-bodied characteristics of the coffee beans. The smaller serving size also contributes to a more potent espresso experience.

On the other hand, espresso is a broader term encompassing a range of shot sizes and volumes. A standard espresso shot typically contains 1 ounce (30 ml) of liquid, extracted using 7 grams of coffee grounds. While espresso can vary in strength depending on the brewing method and the beans used, ristretto shots are generally considered stronger due to their concentrated nature.

In the end, ristretto, a type of espresso shot, is typically considered stronger than a regular espresso. Its intense flavor, concentrated extraction, and smaller serving size contribute to a bolder and more potent espresso experience.

Long Espresso vs. Americano: The Difference 

In the world of coffee, there are various ways to enjoy the rich flavors and aromas of espresso. Long espresso and Americano are two popular options that often come up in discussions. While both are based on espresso, their preparation methods and taste profiles differ. Let’s explore the differences between these two delightful coffee beverages.

Long Espresso 

Long espresso refers to an extended version of a regular espresso shot. It is made by extracting a larger volume of water through the same amount of coffee grounds. The brewing process is adjusted by grinding the coffee beans slightly coarser and adjusting the water-to-coffee ratio accordingly. The result is a longer extraction time, leading to a larger serving size than a traditional espresso shot.

Long espresso retains the intensity and robust flavors of espresso but with a slightly milder taste. The extended extraction allows more aromatic compounds to be released from the coffee grounds, resulting in a more nuanced flavor profile. Long espresso shots often exhibit a balance between the intensity of espresso and the smoothness of a longer extraction, appealing to those who enjoy a bold yet approachable coffee experience.


On the other hand, Americano is a coffee beverage made by diluting espresso with hot water. It is prepared by adding hot water to a shot or espresso shots, resulting in a larger cup of coffee. The water-to-espresso ratio can vary depending on personal preference, but typically an Americano contains equal parts espresso and hot water.

The Americano is known for its smooth and mellow taste. By diluting the espresso with hot water, the flavor becomes less concentrated compared to a straight espresso shot. Americanos offer a more approachable and less intense coffee experience while retaining espresso’s characteristic flavors.

In the end, the main difference between long espresso and Americano lies in their brewing methods and taste profiles. Long espresso is an extended version of a regular espresso shot, providing a larger serving size and a slightly milder flavor while preserving the intensity of espresso. On the other hand, Americano is made by diluting espresso with hot water, resulting in a smoother and more mellow coffee beverage. Whether you prefer the boldness of long espresso or the approachability of an Americano, both options offer unique ways to enjoy the espresso flavors in a larger and more satisfying cup of coffee.

Lungo vs. Ristretto: Making the Choice

The decision between ristretto and long shot ultimately depends on personal preferences and the desired espresso experience.

Intensity Preference:

If you prefer a bold and concentrated flavor with a shorter extraction time, ristretto shots are the way to go. Ristretto shots offer a stronger caffeine kick and a robust flavor profile appealing to espresso lovers seeking a quick and intense experience.

Milder Taste Preference:

Long shots are the ideal choice for those who enjoy a milder and less concentrated flavor. The extended extraction process provides a smoother and more diluted taste, making it a favorable option for individuals who prefer a longer, milder espresso experience.

Final Thoughts 

In the world of espresso, ristretto and long shot offer distinctive flavors, serving sizes, and brewing methods. Ristretto shots provide a concentrated and intense experience, while long shots offer a milder and more diluted flavor profile. Understanding the differences between these two variations allows coffee enthusiasts to make an informed choice based on their personal preferences. Whether you crave a bold and robust espresso or prefer a smoother and lighter experience, both ristretto and long shot have their unique merits, adding diversity to the espresso world.