ristretto vs long shot

Ristretto vs Long Shot: The Tale of Two Espressos

When it comes to espresso, there are many variations to choose from. However, two of the most popular and debated options are ristretto and long shot. While both espressos are made using the same method – forcing water through finely ground coffee under high pressure – the differences lie in the amount of coffee used and the extraction time.

Ristretto is a concentrated shot of espresso made with a smaller amount of water and coffee grounds than a standard espresso shot. A long shot, on the other hand, is an espresso shot that is made with more water and coffee grounds, resulting in a longer extraction time.

Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur or an occasional drinker, understanding the differences between ristretto and long shot can help you choose the perfect espresso for your taste buds.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ristretto and long shot espressos are both popular variations made using the same basic method.
  • Ristretto is a concentrated shot made with less water and coffee grounds, while a long shot uses more water and coffee grounds for a longer extraction time.
  • Choosing between ristretto and long shot depends on personal taste preferences and desired intensity.

What is a Ristretto?

A ristretto is a concentrated shot of espresso made using the same amount of coffee as a regular espresso, but with less water. This results in a shorter extraction time and a more intense flavor profile. Typically, a ristretto shot uses about half an ounce of coffee and only a quarter-ounce of water, giving it a strong and bold flavor.

The brewing process of a ristretto involves using finely ground coffee and tamping it down firmly to create resistance against the water passing through. This resistance slows down the extraction process and creates a thicker, richer texture. The extraction time for a ristretto is usually between 15 and 20 seconds.

Fun fact: The word “ristretto” comes from the Italian word “restrict” which means “restricted” or “limited”. This refers to the limited amount of water used in the brewing process.

Ristretto shots are often favored by espresso enthusiasts who appreciate the intense flavor and the complexity of the coffee’s aroma and taste. The result is a shot that is both potent and flavorful, making it an excellent choice for those who want a more robust espresso experience.

How to Make a Ristretto

Making the perfect ristretto shot is an art that requires precision and attention to detail. Follow these steps to make a delicious ristretto:

  1. Start with freshly roasted coffee beans and grind them to a fine consistency. For a 1-ounce shot of ristretto, use 7-8 grams (about 1 tablespoon) of coffee.
  2. Measure out the coffee grounds into the portafilter and tamp them down firmly.
  3. Insert the portafilter into the espresso machine and start the extraction process. A ristretto shot should take approximately 15-20 seconds to extract, resulting in a smaller volume of coffee than traditional espresso.
  4. Once the shot is extracted, immediately stop the process to avoid over-extraction.
  5. The ideal ristretto shot should have a creamy texture, with a strong, concentrated flavor that’s more intense than a regular espresso shot.

Remember, the key to a perfect ristretto shot is the extraction time. Too short or too long of an extraction can greatly affect the taste and quality of the shot. Practice makes perfect, so keep experimenting until you find your perfect ristretto.

Tip: Use a scale to weigh the coffee grounds and monitor the extraction time to achieve consistency in your ristretto shots.

What is a Long Shot?

If you’re in the mood for a longer, milder espresso shot, a long shot is an excellent choice. A long shot is simply an espresso shot made with a higher coffee volume and a longer extraction time than a regular shot, resulting in a milder and less intense flavor profile.

However, it’s important to note that a long shot is not the same as an Americano or drip coffee. While those beverages are made by diluting espresso with hot water, a long shot is extracted using only hot water and ground coffee beans.

Characteristics of a Long Shot
Coffee Volume Approximately 2 ounces
Extraction Time 25-30 seconds
Taste Profile Milder and less intense than a regular espresso shot, with a smoother finish

Despite its milder taste, a long shot can still provide a decent caffeine kick, making it a popular choice for those who want to savor their coffee without the intense jolt of a regular espresso shot.

Next, let’s explore the unique taste profile of a long shot in more detail.

The Flavor Profile of a Long Shot

A long shot espresso is unique in both brewing process and taste compared to other espresso variations. Due to the extended extraction time, a long shot typically has a milder flavor compared to other espressos. However, this longer extraction can also bring out new and interesting flavor notes.

Long shots generally have a higher coffee volume, resulting in a lighter body compared to its ristretto counterpart. The taste is often described as smooth, with nuanced flavor notes of chocolate, caramel, and nutty undertones.

“A long shot is like a lighter, smoother version of a traditional espresso. It’s perfect for those who prefer a milder taste with subtle complexities.”

The longer extraction process also leads to a slightly lower intensity and caffeine content compared to ristretto shots. However, the flavor profile of a long shot is still quite robust and satisfying.

The longer extraction can also be influenced by the type of beans used and their roast level. Lighter roasts tend to bring out more fruit and floral flavors, whereas darker roasts may have more chocolate and nutty notes. The type of beans used can further enhance the unique taste profile of a long shot.

Overall, a long shot espresso offers a distinct taste experience from other espresso variations. Its lighter body, nuanced flavors, and lower intensity make it a perfect option for those who prefer a milder yet complex cup of coffee.

Making the Perfect Long Shot

A long shot espresso requires a longer extraction time than other variations, typically between 25 and 35 seconds. This extended brewing process leads to a higher volume of coffee in the cup and a distinct taste profile. To achieve the perfect long shot, follow these tips:

  1. Start with fresh, high-quality beans and grind them just before brewing. The ideal grind size for a long shot is slightly coarser than for other espresso types.
  2. Use a high-pressure espresso machine, set between 9 and 10 bars of pressure.
  3. Preheat your machine and cups to ensure the coffee stays hot and doesn’t lose flavor.
  4. Fill the portafilter with 18-21 grams of coffee, distributed evenly. Tamp with 30 pounds of pressure to ensure the grounds are compacted and even.
  5. Start the extraction process, aiming for a volume of around 2 ounces (60ml) of coffee. The optimal extraction time is between 25 and 35 seconds, depending on your machine and coffee blend.
  6. Adjust the grind size, pressure, and extraction time until you achieve the perfect balance of flavor and body.

Remember that the perfect long shot will vary depending on your personal taste preferences and the specific beans and equipment you’re using. Experiment with different settings and brewing techniques until you find the ideal combination for your palate.

Finally, always use fresh, high-quality beans and ensure your equipment is clean and well-maintained. With practice and patience, you can master the art of making the perfect long shot espresso every time.

Ristretto vs Long Shot: A Taste Comparison

Now that we’ve explored the characteristics of ristretto and long shot espressos, let’s examine their taste profiles.

Ristretto: This espresso variation is known for its intense, bold flavor. Because it is brewed with less water than a traditional shot, a ristretto has a fuller body and richer taste. You’ll notice notes of chocolate, caramel, and even a slight berry flavor in a well-made ristretto.

Long Shot: With its higher coffee volume and longer extraction time, a long shot espresso has a milder taste profile. The extended brewing process results in a smoother, less intense flavor with a slight sweetness and nutty undertones. You may also detect hints of fruit or florals in a long shot espresso.

It’s important to note that taste is subjective, and your personal preferences will dictate which espresso variation you prefer. Some people may find the boldness of a ristretto overwhelming, while others may find a long shot lacking in flavor. Experiment with both and determine which one suits your taste buds better.

Which Espresso is Right for You?

Choosing between a ristretto and a long shot espresso can be a daunting task. The intensity, coffee volume, and taste are all factors to consider when deciding which one to try. Here are some tips to help you make a decision:


If you prefer your coffee strong and concentrated, the ristretto is the way to go. This espresso has a more intense and robust flavor, with less volume and a shorter extraction time. However, if you prefer a milder and smoother taste, the long shot may suit you better. Its longer extraction time results in a larger volume with a lighter intensity.

Coffee Volume

Consider how much coffee you want to drink in one serving. The ristretto is a smaller shot, typically around 0.5 ounces, while the long shot could be closer to 3 ounces. If you prefer a quick and small espresso, the ristretto is perfect for you. But if you’d like a larger cup of coffee to savor, the long shot is the better choice.

Personal Taste Preferences

Ultimately, your personal taste preferences should guide your decision. If you love bold and rich flavors, try the ristretto. If you prefer a more mellow and nuanced taste, go for the long shot. Experiment with both and see which one suits your taste buds best.


As we’ve seen, ristretto and long shot espressos offer distinct and flavorful experiences that cater to different preferences. Whether you prefer a short, intense shot or a longer, smoother cup, there is an espresso variation for you.

When choosing between ristretto and long shot, consider factors such as coffee volume, extraction time, and taste preferences. If you love a bold and concentrated shot, ristretto might be your best bet. If you prefer a milder, more delicate flavor, long shot may be the way to go.

Ultimately, the best way to explore and appreciate the world of espresso is to try both variations and discover the unique taste profiles for yourself. So why not head to your local coffee shop and give ristretto and long shot a try? Your taste buds will thank you.


Q: What is the difference between a ristretto and a long shot?

A: A ristretto is a concentrated espresso shot with a shorter extraction time and smaller coffee volume, resulting in a more intense flavor. A long shot, on the other hand, has a longer extraction time and larger coffee volume, resulting in a milder flavor.

Q: How do you make a ristretto?

A: To make a ristretto, you’ll need to use the same amount of coffee grounds as a regular espresso shot but extract the shot for a shorter period of time. This will create a smaller volume of coffee with a stronger taste.

Q: What is a long shot espresso?

A: A long shot espresso is prepared with a longer extraction time, allowing more water to pass through the coffee grounds. This results in a larger volume of coffee with a milder flavor compared to a traditional espresso shot.

Q: How do you make the perfect long shot espresso?

A: To achieve the perfect long shot, you’ll need to adjust your grind size to be finer and extract the shot for a longer period of time. This will ensure that you extract more coffee flavor without overpowering bitterness.

Q: How do ristretto and long shot espressos differ in taste?

A: Ristretto espressos have a more intense flavor with stronger notes of coffee, while long shot espressos have a milder and smoother taste with a larger coffee volume.

Q: Which espresso should I choose, ristretto or long shot?

A: Choosing between ristretto and long shot depends on your personal taste preferences. If you enjoy a stronger and more concentrated espresso, go for ristretto. If you prefer a milder and larger coffee volume, opt for a long shot.