Coffee Brewing

Ristretto Vs Espresso – What’s the Difference?

Written by

Erica Cervenkova

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Ristretto Vs Espresso


From the names, you can assume that an Espresso and a Ristretto are two unrelated coffee drinks.

However, they are two of the closest coffee drinks.

How are they similar and how do they differ? That’s what this post is about.

We will compare Ristretto with Espresso head-to-head to find out their origin, preparation, serving, and taste differences.

So, buckle up and let’s get into it.

Ristretto Vs Espresso – What’s the Difference?

Espresso is typically 30 ml of concentrated coffee made by forcing hot and pressurized water through 7 grams of fine ground coffee in 20-30 seconds. On the other side, a Ristretto is a smaller version of an Espresso made by forcing hot water through 7 g of super finer ground coffee in 15-20 seconds.

As the definition suggests, a Ristretto is a type of Espresso, but there is more. See below a table comparing the two drinks.

EquipmentEspresso machineEspresso machine
Ground coffee7 g (1 Shot) 14 g (Double shot)7 g (1 Shot) 14 g (Double shot)
Grind sizeSuper fineFine
Roast profileMedium Dark – DarkMedium Dark – Dark
Coffee to water ratio1:21:3
Time15 seconds25-30 seconds
Yield15 ml (0.5 fl oz)30 ml (1 fl oz)
Caffeine<63 mg for 15 ml (1 shot) <126 mg for 30 ml (double shot)63 mg for 1 shot (30 ml) 126 mg for double shot (60 ml)
Brewing Temperature85-95°C85-95°C
Brewing Pressure9–10 bars9–10 bars
Serving size2 shots1 – 2 shots
Base forAll Espresso + milk combo drinks Cappuccino Latte Cortado Flat white etc.Flat white Americano Macchiato
TasteIntense, bold, and flavourful. SweeterBalanced Sweetness, Acidity, and Bitterness.

5 Key Differences Between Ristretto and Espresso

1. Origin


Both Espresso and Ristretto originated in Italy, after the invention of the espresso machine.

The Espresso drink is named after the Espresso machine. The word Espresso comes from the Italian word esprimere, which means to “press out” in English.

Ristretto on the other side is an Italian word, which means “to restrict”. In the case of this drink, it means “to restrict” the amount of water that passes through the ground coffee. 

2. Ingredients and preparation

First thing first:

Espresso and Ristretto are prepared using the same coffee beans. This is mostly high-quality arabica beans, preferably single-origin.

The two drinks are also made with an Espresso machine. So, there is no espresso and ristretto machine.

They also use the same parameters on the machine. That’s 7-9 grams of ground coffee for 1 shot, 9-10 bars pressure, and water temperatures of between 85-95°C.

The difference comes in the grind size and pull time.

In the case of Espresso, a barista uses 7 grams of fine ground coffee to pull 1 shot (30 ml) within 20-30 seconds.

For a Ristretto, a barista uses 7 grams of super fine ground coffee to pull 15 ml of Ristretto, in half the time.

Compared to an Espresso, pulling a shot of Ristretto is faster but the yield is lower. It also uses half the amount of water.

To facilitate extraction within the shorter time frame pulling the Ristretto requires super fine ground size, a little finer than with Espresso.

Apart from providing a larger surface area for extraction, this grind size also slows down the water to provide ample time for extraction.

The short time frame extracts the most soluble compounds, which are mostly sweet compounds extracting less of the bitter compounds.

That’s why a Ristretto is sweeter than an Espresso.

Here is a comparison of the Ristretto with Long shot.

3. Size


Since a shot of Ristretto is very small (15 ml), it is usually served as a double shot (30 ml), which is equal to a normal shot of Espresso.  Espresso on the other side is typically a 1 – 2 ounce drink.

Both drinks can be drunk bare or be used as a base for Cappuccino, Latte, Macchiato, and Flat White among other espresso-based coffee drinks.

Both drinks are served in small demitasse cups.

4. Taste

Because of how they are extracted, Espresso and Ristretto differ when it comes to taste.

A Ristretto is sweeter, richer, and full-bodied. The first compounds to be extracted are the mellow flavors, followed by sweetness, acidity, and finally bitter compounds.

When pulling a Ristretto, extraction time is over before the bitter compounds are extracted, which makes the drink a little bit sweet.

However, because of the hastened extraction, there is the risk of under-extraction, which results in an unpleasant and sour drink.

An Espresso on the other side has a balanced sweetness, acidity, and bitter taste. Compared to a Ristretto, an espresso is less intense.

Since a Ristretto is only 15 ml, it has the highest concentration of caffeine and other solubles per unit volume.

5. Nutritional Facts


A shot and double shot of Espresso contains about 63 mg and 126 mg of caffeine respectively.

On the other side, there is no credible study on how much caffeine is in a shot of Ristretto. However, considering the pull time is half of that of Espresso, the caffeine content will be slightly lower than 63 mg.

During brewing, caffeine is among the first solubles to be extracted within the first few seconds. So, even if the pull time of a Ristretto is low, there is enough time to allow caffeine extraction.

Both Espresso and Ristretto are low on calories. An Espresso has less than 2 calories.


And that is it for the differences between a Ristretto and an Espresso. Below is a summary of how these two drinks differ.

  • An Espresso shot is 30 ml, while a Ristretto shot is 15 ml
  • A Espresso shot is pulled within 20-30 seconds, while a Ristretto shot takes half the time.
  • Ristretto and Espresso shots use the same amount of ground coffee.
  • A Ristretto is sweeter since there are fewer bitter compounds.
  • Ristretto uses super fine ground size, while Espresso uses fine ground size.
  • A Ristretto is thicker than an Espresso.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much caffeine is in a Ristretto?

A shot of Ristretto has slightly less than 63 mg of caffeine.

How much caffeine is in an Espresso?

A 30 ml shot and a 60 ml double shot of Espresso have 63 and 126 mg of caffeine respectively.

Is Ristretto stronger than Espresso?

Yes, a shot of Ristretto is more concentrated than a shot of Espresso. However, it’s sweeter, which makes it more approachable than a shot of Espresso.

Does a Ristretto have less caffeine?

No, a shot of Ristretto has slightly less caffeine than a shot of Espresso.

Is Ristretto the strongest coffee?

Yes, a Ristretto is the strongest coffee drink.

What’s the difference between Ristretto and Espresso?

While an Espresso and Ristretto use the same amount of ground coffee, a Ristretto is pulled in half the time and uses less water.

Also, a shot of Espresso is 15 ml, while a shot of Espresso is 30 ml

Erica Cervenkova
Coffee Connoisseur, SCA Member

As a coffee connoisseur and member of the Specialty Coffee Association, I am dedicated to understanding the sustainability of coffee pods and the impact it has on the environment. My expertise lies in the realm of capsule coffee machines, from the likes of Keurig and Nespresso to other well-known US brands. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping others make informed decisions about their coffee choices. Whether you're a coffee enthusiast or just looking for a new way to enjoy your morning cup, I'm here to help.


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