What Is the Difference Between Ristretto Vs Long Shot?

Coffee is an essential part of the daily routine for many of us. It can wake us up and give us the energy to start a new day. Thus, coffee also comes with a wide variety that can satisfy any lover of this drink. Yet, with many kinds of coffee to choose from, it is natural that we want to find out the kind of coffee that best suits our taste buds out of all the variety that coffee has to offer.

Hence, if you want to extend your knowledge about coffee and add more types of coffee to your go-to list, let’s discover ristretto and long shot, two variations of espresso, in today’s article. Ristretto vs long shot, which will be your next favorite drink? Without further ado, let’s find out.

Ristretto vs Long Shot: An Overview

Both ristretto and long shot are, as stated above, variations of espresso – the most popular and common type of coffee. It is simple to make a shot of espresso, for all you need is your coffee grounds, hot water, and the espresso machine. 

Espresso: The basis of ristretto and long shot

To make a regular shot of espresso, put your finely grounded coffee beans to the espresso machine and expose them to high pressure and hot water for 30 seconds. The only thing you need to pay close attention to if you want a perfect shot of espresso is the beans grind size. The coffee beans should be finely ground to allow hot water and pressure to carry out the coffee extraction during the 30 seconds effectively. The coarser your coffee grounds are, the less effective the coffee extraction process will be. Thus, if you want your homemade shot of espresso to be similar to the store-bought shot, you should use 18 grams of espresso coffee grounds and 36 grams of water. If you follow these instructions, your 30ml shot of rich and full-bodied espresso should be ready in no time.

It is essential to know how espresso is made in this article because it can help you grasp the difference between ristretto and long shots more easily. Since the drinks in today’s article are variations of espresso, you can expect that both ristretto and long shot follow the basic principle of espresso. Specifically, both drinks call for the espresso machine, coffee grounds, pressure, and hot water. However, it is the slightly different preparing process that makes all the difference.

Ristretto

Ristretto means “restricted” in Italian – the culture where this drink is trendy. As the meaning of the name suggests, ristretto is a restricted espresso shot or a shorter espresso shot. Ristretto uses the same amount of coffee grounds as espresso but only calls for half the amount of water that goes into espresso. Thus, the brewing stops right before the coffee grounds release bitterness, lasting for around 20 seconds. This restriction leads to the sweet flavor that many people have come to love about ristretto. 

During the brewing process of ristretto, the coffee grounds are in contact with less water for a shorter amount of time, leading to a faster coffee extraction and a more concentrated, more prosperous, sweeter, and richer coffee shot compared to the regular espresso. Yet, since a ristretto is milder than espresso, although it seems to be more concentrated, the drink has a lower caffeine content than that espresso. Hence, if the caffeine in espresso is too much for you, a ristretto is a perfect replacement.

Further Reading: Is Ristretto Stronger Than Espresso?

Long shot/ Lungo

Meanwhile, a long shot, also known as a lungo (lungo means long in Italian), is the opposite of ristretto. Instead of cutting the brewing process short of restricting bitterness, a long shot requires a longer time in the brewing process. The brewing time usually ranges from 30 to 40 seconds, allowing more coffee extraction during the process. This thorough extraction means that your long shot will have a higher content of caffeine and darker notes in the taste.

Thus, a lungo calls for more hot water than espresso (precisely, twice as much). Hence, a shot of lungo is usually more significant than a shot of espresso (and of course, it is much larger than the concentrated ristretto shot). Although the more prolonged extraction means that the long shot will be more bitter, the more significant amount of hot water involved in the process balances out the bitterness. It makes the long shot taste milder compared to an espresso shot.

Long Shot Vs Ristretto, How To Make Them At Home?

To make these drinks at home, you will need an espresso machine. Hence, if you do not have an espresso machine, we would say that you can try out a long shot and a ristretto at your favorite coffee house. Yet, if you are a coffee lover, investing in an espresso machine will be something you will not regret. The machine will allow you to try out more possibilities with coffee and make your favorite drink at home. So, if you have your espresso machine ready, let’s make a long shot and ristretto with our guide below.

How to make a ristretto?

  • Prepare your coffee beans: Since the brewing process is much shorter, you should grind the beans for ristretto more finely than the beans for espresso to optimize the coffee extraction. Thus, finer grounds also give you a less bitter taste and allow you to suspend the bitterness more quickly from your ristretto. So, grind your coffee beans finely.
  • Prepare your espresso machine: Like how you usually prepare your espresso machine, you should fill up the water reservoir with cold filtered water and let the water heat up. Then you should place about 14 grams of coffee grounds on the filter and tamp the coffee to get it ready for the machine.
  • Brew your ristretto: You should brew your ristretto for 15 seconds. Afterward, it would help if you had about a 15ml shot of ristretto. You can perform this process again to get a double shot, which baristas usually serve at coffee houses. Otherwise, you can customize your ristretto however you like. After all, the fun of making coffee at home is that you can add anything to your coffee.

How to make a long shot?

  • Prepare before brewing: Prepare your espresso machine like the above process and grind your coffee beans finely. Yet, you will not need to grind your coffee as finely as you grind them for a ristretto. Since the brewing process is longer, you will end up with strong coffee at the end with regular acceptable grounds.
  • Brew your long shot: Put 7-10 gram of coffee grounds into the filter, tamp it, place it into the espresso machine, and let the brewing process take place for up to 40 seconds. Then, you can serve it as it is or add milk to balance out the bitter taste.

Watch more How To Make Ristretto:

FAQs

Long shot vs ristretto, which one is better?

Knowing the difference between the two drinks through this article, you can consult with your preference to decide whether you like a long shot or a ristretto better. If you like sweeter-tasting coffee, a ristretto is the way to go. Yet, if you like coffee that has a darker flavor profile, you should go for a long shot. Yet, since both drinks have their own appeals, we recommend trying them both before deciding.

Long shot vs ristretto Starbucks, which one is better?

The answer to the question of which one between long shot and ristretto is better at Starbucks is again entirely up to your preference of coffee, but we would say that Starbucks is actually a great place for you to try out these drinks and decide for yourself which one is. You may hear someone order a long shot or a ristretto at Starbucks and these names fascinate you. Well, with this article, you now know what these drinks mean and can order your own at Starbuck as well. 

What is a ristretto shot at Starbucks?

Starbucks is one of the places that popularize ristretto, for baristas usually offer this drink as a substitute for people who do not like the bitterness of coffee. A ristretto shot at Starbucks does not have much difference from the regular ristretto shot because the preparation is the same. However, a shot of ristretto at Starbucks can be the base for many of your favorite coffee like Americano, Latte, or Cappuccino. In addition, since the ristretto shot is equivalent to an espresso shot, you can use the ristretto shot to build and customize any Starbucks coffee-based drink you prefer.

Conclusion

If you have reached this point of the article, you have known everything to decide your answer for your question “Ristretto vs long shot, which one is better?”. Hopefully, you can add these two amazing types of coffee to your favorite coffee list.