What is Ristretto Shot and How to Make it

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Johny Morrisson

The Ristretto shot is a highly concentrated espresso prepared by reducing the water content to half while using the same amount of coffee grounds as regular Espresso. Typically, a Ristretto yields 15-20 mL (0.5-0.7 ounces) shot and has a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:1.

This condensed extraction method yields a remarkable flavor profile, with a rich, syrupy, and intense taste.

Ristretto shot

The word “Ristretto” has its roots in the Italian word “Ristretti,” which means “restricted.” The term essentially refers to the restricted amount of water used in its preparation.

The shorter brewing time of a ristretto shot results in a slightly lower caffeine content compared to a standard espresso shot. Generally, a ristretto shot contains 50-60 mg of caffeine, while an espresso shot contains 60-72 mg.

It is believed to originated in the early 20th century when baristas and coffee lovers tried to extract a smaller, yet more intense amount of coffee from espresso machines.

Over time, ristretto gained popularity among espresso lovers who appreciated its rich taste and concentrated nature. And people started ordering “Espresso Ristretto” i-e the shot made with a restricted amount of water.

What is a ristretto shot

How to pull a perfect Ristretto shot?

Pulling a perfect Ristretto shot requires precision and consistency. Here’s a step-by-step guide to pulling a perfect shot:

1- Measure the coffee beans: Use 7-9 grams of coffee for a single Ristretto shot and 16 to 18 grams for a double shot.

I always recommend using dark roasted beans as they extract flavors more quickly.

coffee beans scale

2- Grind the Beans: Using a high-quality burr coffee grinder, grind the beans at fine settings.

To make a perfect Ristretto, it’s important to use a finer grind size than that used for a regular espresso shot. This finer grind size ensures that the coffee is fully extracted during the shorter extraction process.

Grind the coffee beans

3- Distribute and tamp the grounds: Distribute the coffee grounds evenly in the portafilter basket and tamp it with consistent pressure.

Tamping is the secret handshake between the barista and the coffee grounds, unlocking the full potential of a ristretto.

Tamp the coffee grounds

4- Start the Machine: Place the portafilter in the espresso machine and start the extraction process. Measure the yield very carefully it should match the amount of coffee grounds you are using! (7-9 grams for a single shot and 16-18 grams for a double shot)

In general, extraction times should be between 15 and 23 seconds for a Ristretto shot.

Pull the Ristretto shot

5- Enjoy: Serve the Ristretto shot immediately and enjoy the bold and strong taste.

When I first tried to pull a Ristretto shot, I was intimidated by the precision required. But after a few attempts and some practice, I was able to master the art of pulling a perfect Ristretto shot.

Dialing in is important for achieving a perfect ristretto shot. Since it is a shorter and more concentrated extraction, the brewing parameters need to be adjusted to achieve the desired taste and balance.

Don’t worry if your first ristretto shot isn’t perfect. It takes practice and patience to master. Keep trying, and you’ll get there!

What are the best coffee beans for Ristretto shots?

Darker roasts are preferred for Ristretto shots because they have a more pronounced and intense flavor. Also, the dark roasts extract flavors more quickly which complements the shorter extraction time of Ristretto.

Lighter roasts, on the other hand, can result in a more acidic and sour taste, which is not desirable for Ristretto shots. And they are often left under-extracted in this restricted brewing process.

A dark roasted blend of Arabica and Robusta is perfect for a Ristretto shot. My favorite is Lavazza Super Crema as it always gives me the best taste!

It’s also necessary to use freshly roasted beans as old and stale coffee beans can result in a flat and dull taste that doesn’t do justice to the bold and intense flavors of a Ristretto shot.

Don’t use too fresh too! wait at least 7-10 days after roasting if you buy beans straight from the roasters!

Also Read: The Best Espresso Beans

The taste and flavors of the Ristretto shot

Ristretto shots are known for their bold and concentrated taste. The shorter extraction process results in a lower acidity level and a higher concentration of sweeter flavors.

These shots have a higher percentage of soluble coffee solids, which results in a thicker and more syrupy texture.

The Ristretto boasts a captivating flavor profile, with hints of chocolate, caramel, and nutty undertones.

Ristretto is significantly stronger and less bitter than Espresso as it contains more flavorful and sweet compounds that dissolve quickly in the shorter extraction period and less bitter compounds that dissolve slowly.

Ristretto vs Espresso

The difference between Ristretto and Espresso is the coffee-to-water ratio. Espresso is made using a ratio of 1:2, which gives a balanced taste. And Ristretto uses a ratio of 1:1, meaning very little water is used to create a shot.

If you enjoy a sweet and syrupy taste, Ristretto shots are the way to go and if you want a well-rounded shot with all flavors of coffee from sweet to bitter, you should go for an Espresso.

Ristretto vs Espresso

Read a detailed guide on Ristretto vs Espresso

Ristretto vs Long shot

A long shot is the complete opposite of a Ristretto shot, it uses double the amount of water as a standard espresso shot and the same coffee grounds.

A serving of Long Shot is around 2-3 oz and offers a milder and more diluted flavor profile, often preferred by those who enjoy a smoother and less intense coffee experience.

Ristretto VS Lungo shots

Read a detailed guide on Ristretto vs Long Shot

Final Thoughts

Ristretto shots are a unique and exciting way to enjoy your coffee, and they’re perfect for those who love rich and syrupy flavors.

While preparing a perfect Ristretto shot may require some practice and patience, the results are worth it.

As a coffee lover myself, I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t already.

Let me know in the comments if you know any secrets about these little coffee shots!

Read about 30 different types of Espresso drinks


Does Ristretto have crema?

Yes, a well-crafted ristretto shot can indeed have a luxurious layer of crema.
In the case of a ristretto, the shorter and more concentrated extraction process results in a thicker and more intense crema layer.

Do you add sugar to Ristretto?

Ristretto shot is already full of sweet coffee flavors, so it is traditionally served without any additional sugar.
It is best to consume it without sugar if you want to enjoy it properly.
If you do decide to add sugar, add it in a small amount to avoid overpowering the natural flavors of the brew.

Do you put milk in a Ristretto?

Ristretto shots are typically enjoyed solo without any milk added. Their rich, concentrated flavor stands on its own.
Yet, some love it with a touch of milk, as in a Piccolo Coffee—a delightful blend of Ristretto and milk.
And At Starbucks, they craft their Flat Whites with double Ristretto shots.

Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About. He knows everything there is to know about coffee and loves sharing his passion with others.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.

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