What is Ristretto vs Long Shot?

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Johny Morrisson

Long shot is a longer version of espresso with a larger volume (110ml) and pulled for 40-50 seconds, which is twice as long as a traditional espresso shot. Ristretto, on the other hand, is a smaller version of espresso with a serving size of 20ml and a more concentrated and syrupy taste.

With Ristretto and Lungo shots, you can easily customize your espresso shot to suit your taste preferences.

If you don’t get the distinct nature of ristretto and lungo, I am going to explain the ultimate chain of differences and recipes to make the best shot for you.  

Ristretto vs Lungo shot coffee

What is Ristretto?  

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.

Ristretto is an Italian word that means narrow or restricted. So essentially it is a restricted version of Espresso.

A typical Ristretto shot is around 15-20 mL (0.5-0.7 ounces) and has coffee to water for 1:1. This makes Ristretto a very concentrated and strong shot with a syrupy texture.

ristretto espresso shot

Ristretto vs single-shot Espresso 

The coffee-to-water ratio in traditional Espresso shots is 1:2, with a typical serving size of 30-35 mL, while in Ristretto shots the ratio is 1:1, with a typical serving size of 15-20 mL.

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.

Also Read: Single vs Double Espresso shot

What is a Long Shot or Lungo?   

“Lungo” means “Long” in Italian and is essentially an espresso shot that is brewed longer and with more water. Lungo shots are around 2-3 oz and are often pulled for 40 seconds, which is twice as long as a traditional espresso shot. 

Lungo Coffee is typically made with the same amount of coffee grounds as a regular espresso, but with twice as much water, so it is essentially a less concentrated form of Espresso.

Lungo shots are enjoyed by those who love traditionally brewed coffee but with a touch of Espresso. Lungo shots have a milder taste with slightly bitter notes and have a very thin layer of crema.

lungo coffee shot

Also read: What is Gran Lungo Coffee?

Taste and Flavor Profiles of Lungo and Ristretto

A ristretto shot usually has a stronger and full-bodied flavor than a regular espresso shot and is sweeter and has a thicker crema layer.

You will love it if you like the intensity of Espresso shots but hate the bitterness.

Lungo is a lite version of espresso. It has a more bitter taste with a slightly sour or acidic aftertaste due to the extended brewing time. In comparison to a standard espresso shot, the crema layer on top of a lungo shot is usually thinner and lighter in color, and the drink itself is also thinner.

The Lungo shots are perfect for you if you enjoy milder drip coffee or Americano over concentrated espresso shots.

The bitterness of lungo shots has never been appealing to me, so I prefer Americano over lungo. Whenever I feel like a thicker shot, I love Ristretto, but I don’t do it regularly.

The Difference in Grind size 

The perfect grind size for both the Lungo and Ristretto shots is fine the same as Espresso.

However, for ristretto shots, adjusting the grind size to a little more fine is preferred. The extraction process needs to be more efficient in ristretto shots because of less water and a shorter brewing time.

And for the lungo shots, since they are made with more water and pulled for longer, inclining the grind size towards medium will prevent over-extraction and bitterness in the coffee.

Coffee to Water Ratio 

The coffee-to-water ratio for making lungo and the ristretto shots can vary depending on personal taste preferences and the type of coffee beans used.

In general, for the ristretto shots, the coffee beans are the same as the regular espresso (7-9 g) while the water will be half of the regular shot (around 10-12 g).

The best coffee-to-water ratio for Ristretto shots is 1:1-1.5 (that means 1 gram of coffee for every gram of water)

For the Lungo shots, ideally, 10-15 grams of coffee grounds are used while the water is almost three to four times more than the solo shot (110 mL).

 The best coffee-to-water ratio for lungo shots is 1:3-4 (that means 1 gram of coffee for every 4 grams of water).

Ristretto vs Long Shot Caffeine

Despite having a more concentrated flavor, a ristretto shot contains less caffeine than a lungo shot. This is because a ristretto shot uses fewer coffee grounds and has a smaller brewing time.

As a result of the short brewing time, some of the caffeine remains unextracted. The average caffeine content in a ristretto is 40-50 mg. 

Lungo shots have almost double the caffeine content of Ristretto shots since most of the caffeine is extracted from the coffee grounds during the long brewing process. A single shot of Lungo contains around 70-80 mg of caffeine. 

The thing to be noted here is Ristretto shot is only 20 ml and the Lungo shot is almost 110 mL (almost 5 times bigger). So if we talk on the mL basis a ristretto shot obviously has more caffeine.

However, the actual caffeine content can vary largely depending on the type of coffee beans used.

Here’s a detailed guide on coffee caffeine content.

Adding milk to lungo vs Ristretto 

While some people prefer to drink espresso straight, the concentrated flavors of espresso are not for everyone. Many people prefer to use Espresso as a base for other delicious drinks such as Latte, Cappuccino, or Americano to name a few.

You can add milk or water to a Ristretto shot to make Ristretto Latte or Ristretto Americano but I am sure you’ll not like it. As a ristretto is already very small in size, any addition will overwhelm the coffee flavors and make the drink tasteless.

So, I would always recommend drinking a sweet and rich ristretto shot on its own.

Lungo shots can be used to make lungo lattes or lungo macchiato, both of which are very flavorful drinks as the milk overpowers the bitter taste of lungo.

What are the Best Coffee beans for Ristretto? 

Dark-roasted coffee beans are perfect for brewing ristretto shots since darker roasts extract flavors very quickly.

If you use light or medium roast coffee beans, the ristretto shot will have a weaker flavor because of the short brew time.

Blends of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans also work well for a Ristretto shot.

Check out our detailed guide on the best Espresso beans

What are the Best Coffee beans for Lungo?

Light or medium-roasted coffee beans are the best suited for lungo shots. Lungo shots are exceptionally adept at showcasing the complex origin flavors inherent in lighter roasts.

Never use dark roasted beans or the blend of Robusta beans as it will make your long shot overly bitter.

Ristretto and Long Shot at Starbucks

Starbucks offers both ristretto and long-shot options to customize your espresso-based drinks.

A Starbucks ristretto shot uses less water for a more concentrated, syrupy espresso. Meanwhile, a Starbucks long shot pulls the espresso with more water for a smoother taste.

You can order a ristretto or long shot as the base for lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, and other Starbucks espresso beverages too.

Ristretto and Long Shot at Starbucks

Final Thoughts 

If you are tired of regular Espresso shots then you must try Ristretto and Lungo shots to diversify your taste.

If you find regular Espresso shots bitter then sweet ristretto shots will surely please you!

If you are always annoyed with the small serving size of espresso shot and want something bigger that tastes like Espresso go with the Lungo shot.

Whatever you choose you will surely enjoy it because coffee can’t go bad!


Can You Make Ristretto And Lungo Shots In Any Espresso Machine?

You can easily make both Ristretto and Lungo shots in semi-automatic espresso machines. These allow you to manually control the shot volume to pull the ristretto’s restricted pour or lungo’s longer extraction.
Fully automatic machines with pre-programmed volumes may not offer as much flexibility to customize shot lengths.

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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