Coffee Brewing

Ristretto Vs Long Shot

Written by

Erica Cervenkova

Coffee Holli Top Pick

Ristretto vs Long Shot


One of the most popular and familiar words in the coffee world is espresso

It’s a method of brewing coffee using an espresso machine. Typically, 7-9 grams of ground coffee are brewed with hot water to yield about 30ml of espresso (1 shot or 1 ounce)

But there are two words that most people are not familiar with – ristretto and long shot (lungo)


That’s what this post is about. This post covers how these two drinks compare to espresso, how they are made, and their taste. 

With that out of the way, let’s get pulling. You see what I did there?

What is a Ristretto


Ristretto or “short shot” refers to a highly concentrated shot of espresso.

Ristretto is an Italian word that means restricted, narrow or limited. In our context, ristretto refers to restricting hot water through ground coffee beans within a short brewing time. 

How to make a ristretto

Ristretto is prepared the same way as espresso using an espresso machine. 

7 grams of finely ground espresso coffee beans are used to extract 15ml of the ristretto which is then served in a demitasse cup. This is half of what is extracted when pulling espresso.

Take note:

Unlike pulling espresso which takes about 30 seconds, pulling ristretto takes about 15 seconds.

This means:

Ristretto’s brewing time is shorter and less water is used but the same quantity of ground coffee is used as if you were making espresso or a long shot. 

Because of the short brewing time, the ground size must be very fine 

The goal of this brewing technique is to quickly extract the coffee compounds that dissolve fastest, such as sweetness and fruitiness flavors. That’s why the ristretto is sweeter and richer. 


If a ristretto is not pulled correctly, you end up with a sour under-extracted ristretto. 


Compared to espresso, ristretto is not balanced, but that’s the goal. This is because all the flavors and compounds in the ground coffee are not given ample time to dissolve. 

The flavors and compounds that are extracted are greatly affected by the grind size. A very fine ground size will slow down the water and provide more surface area for extraction to occur. 

Because 1 shot of ristretto is only 15ml, which is technically half a shot of espresso, some coffee bars prepare a bigger size by adjusting the amount of ground coffee and water, with the ratios and extraction time remaining constant.

How do you drink ristretto?


You are supposed to drink ristretto straight, without adding anything else. 

And who is it for?

Risterro is a perfect alternative for coffee lovers who find espresso very strong and don’t want espresso milk combos.


Some coffee shops and cafes use ristretto to make lattes, and flat whites, instead of espresso, which is the standard base for coffee milk combo drinks. 

Because a ristretto is sweeter than espresso when milk is added the milk combo is sweeter. 


While ristretto is more concentrated than espresso, it has less caffeine content because of the fast extraction that doesn’t pull out all of the contents in ground coffee. 

What is a Long Shot


A long shot or lungo is the opposite of a ristretto. 

Here you are brewing the same amount of ground coffee you’d use when making ristretto or espresso. 


Long shot uses more water and has a longer extraction time. 

For instance:

7 grams of ground coffee produces 45 ml of a long shot. If you were brewing ristretto you will produce 15ml of ristretto and 30ml with espresso.

A long shot is more dilute since it contains more water but it’s a larger serving.  

Since extraction takes longer, a long shot picks all the characteristics of the coffee beans. If the beans were light roast, your long shot will be more acidic.  

A long shot should not be confused with double espresso, americanos, or “long black. A long shot is more dilute since the ratio of water to ground coffee is higher. 

Double espresso means twice the amount of ground coffee and water than that of single espresso. 

Americano and long black involve brewing espresso and then diluting it with hot water.

Differences Between Long Shot And Ristretto

RistrettoLong shot (Lungo)
TranslationRestricted Greater volume
Standard size15 ml from 7 grams of ground coffee45ml from 7 grams of ground coffee
Ingredients Very fine ground coffee and pressurized hot waterFine to coarse ground coffee and pressurized hot water
Machine usedEspressoEspresso 
Amount of ground coffee7 grams for 15 ml (half shot)7 grams for 45 ml (1.5 shot)
Amount of hot water LessMore
Extraction timeShort Longer
Caffeine contentLessHigher
TasteSweet and richerStrong coffee flavor

Risterro and long shot are two variations of espresso.  The three coffee drinks are prepared using the same amount of ground coffee. The difference comes in the amount of water and the extraction time.

Risterro is made with the least water and has a shorter extraction time resulting in a more concentrated but sweeter drink. This is because sweet and flavorful compounds are extracted first. A long shot uses more water for the same amount of ground coffee but extraction takes longer.


Risterro and long shot are both variations of espresso. They are all brewed using an espresso machine. The difference comes in the amount of water that is used and the extraction time. If you want to drink everything that coffee beans have to offer, go with the long shot. Since more water is used and extraction takes longer, there is enough time for all flavors and compounds to dissolve in the water.

Frequently Asked Questions About Long Shot Vs. Ristretto

What’s the difference between long shot and ristretto?

Both long shot and ristretto use the same amount of ground coffee but different amounts of water and extraction time. A long shot is more dilute since more water is used and takes longer, while ristretto uses less water but a shorter extraction time. 

Does a ristretto have less caffeine?

Yes, ristretto has less caffeine content than long shot since there is not enough time for all the flavors and compounds to dissolve in the water.

What is a ristretto or long shot at Starbucks?

Starbucks’ ristretto refers to a sweeter and richer shot of espresso that uses less hot water to extract only the most soluble coffee compounds and flavors.

What’s the difference between ristretto and espresso?

Compared to espresso, ristretto uses half the amount of water and has a shorter extraction time. In terms of taste, ristretto is sweeter, while espresso is bitter and more intense.

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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