Updated: Jun 8
Coffee is a must-have beverage for most people. For some, it’s their morning drink. For others, it’s a pleasurable addiction that they may indulge in maybe 4-5 times a day. Many resorts to espresso to have their share of caffeine, but are you aware of a popular drink dubbed as the ‘little brother of espresso’? The Ristretto is also referred to as a ‘short shot.’ In Italian, the word Ristretto means ‘Restricted.’ We can also call it a restricted shot of espresso. It is a sweet shot with only half the amount of water (as used in espresso) but the same amount of coffee as espresso.
What is the difference between Espresso and Ristretto?
The ingredients and the equipment needed for both coffees are the same. It would be best to have an espresso machine, coffee beans, and hot water. But both have slightly different recipes and differ in taste. It is the process that makes the difference.
The texture of Ristretto, as well as the level of bitterness, is different from espressos. While making an espresso, boiling water is pushed down on ground coffee with high pressure for about 25 to 30 seconds to get a strong shot of 30ml. This can taste slightly bitter to most.
Ristretto is made using around 15ml of hot water pushed down on ground coffee for much less time (15 to 20 seconds), resulting in a less bitter or sweet coffee shot.
The Ristretto also typically has a dark chocolate color and a varied balance of compounds than espresso due to the shorter extraction duration.
How is the Ristretto stronger?
Ristretto is the shorter version of espresso, but it is different in several ways. One of those is its extraction time, while the other is less quantity of water and finer coffee grind. It tastes much different from regular espresso because it runs through the espresso machine for a short period. The extraction of the coffee is stopped before it can release its total acidity.
How to make a Ristretto shot?
The step-by-step process to make a perfect Ristretto shot is –
Step I: First, you need to grind the coffee beans. You can grind as much as a standard shot of espresso requires.
Step II: You can use your fingers to level up the excess mixture and settle it in the portafilter before adding water.
Step III: Now, you can add hot water to the mixture for about half-time, i.e., 15 seconds, and get your perfectly brewed Ristretto shot which will be dark brown.
Why is Ristretto becoming popular?
No two individuals have the same taste buds; this influences people to try and create different variations of the same recipes. Ristretto was made similarly. For people who want to drink espresso but are not a fan of its bitter taste, Ristretto is a good substitute for them.
Ristretto is a short variant of the famous espresso giving you the same level of your much-needed caffeine boost with a less bitter and almost sweet aftertaste. You can try both these caffeine options, Espresso and Ristretto, at different outlets, by different baristas, using other beans, or with milk too to determine your favorite choice.
Customization with Ristretto
A subtle change in the espresso recipe has resulted in introducing another tasty drink much different in terms of taste and texture. You can try such forms in Starbucks on various other beverages. This customization can occur in any espresso-based drink to give you that flavorsome kick. You can try this customization of Ristretto shots in your Eggnog Latte, Flat White, Caramel Macchiato, Holiday Spice Flat White, etc.
Fun Facts about Ristretto
There is an opposite beverage available to the Ristretto shot. It is known as ‘Lungo.’ As Ristretto contains less water than your standard espresso drink. Lungo contains more water than your regular espresso drink. As Ristretto is generally called a short shot, its opposite Lungo is called a long shot.
Ristretto is dark brown in color, i.e., its color is much darker than the espresso or the Lungo shot. This is because of the less volume of water it takes to prepare a Ristretto shot. It is also because the dark color of your Lungo Espresso or Ristretto shot comes in the early parts of the shot preparation.
Can I make Ristretto at home?
If you want to prepare your Ristretto at home, you can do it in your espresso machine.
You need finely ground espresso coffee (around 18g, maybe more if you want a more potent brew).
Make sure you grind the coffee fresh.
Now fill and tamp the grind hard.
Start the brew and stop within 25 seconds. You should get around 15 ml of liquid.
Do note that the taste will differ based on the quality of beans you use.
But it is worth a try, and you can improve the taste as you master the method.
A good Ristretto will be concentrated and slightly syrupy in texture. This may not be achieved on some espresso machines.
Machines that are super-automatic or have pressurized filters may not be able to achieve the level of concentration and the syrupy texture.
You will have to experiment a bit with a few machines till you come up with the right results.
This big short coffee is packed with flavor, and focused on quality instead of quantity; it contains a comparatively low amount of caffeine. This intense infusion is brewed for less time, resulting in little sweetness and much less bitterness.
Ristretto is not yet as popular as the other famous espresso drink. But it is undoubtedly a worthy offering for coffee lovers.
It fills a gap in the coffee options available to ardent coffee enthusiasts.
Unlike coffee options like lattes and cappuccinos, it will give a unique taste. Those not aware of Ristrettos may change their views on what a typical coffee should be after trying it.