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Ristretto vs Long Shot – 4 Main Differences To Know

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Are you confused about the difference between a ristretto and a long shot? After all, the two drinks have similar ingredients—espresso beans and water—but offer radically different flavours and brewing processes.

No matter what kind of espresso maker you use, understanding the basic differences between creating these two types of espresso will help you craft your ideal cup more consistently and efficiently.

From extraction time to flavour profile, this article will break down the four main distinctions between ristretto vs long shot so that you can start refining your technique right away!

Ristretto vs Long Shot

Espresso: Base for Ristretto and Long Shot

Espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee that’s rich, bold and intense. It’s usually served in a small cup or can be used for various espresso drinks.

Espresso was invented in Italy in the early 20th century and quickly became a staple of Italian culture. Today, you can find espresso machines in homes and coffee shops all over the world, and it’s beloved by coffee connoisseurs everywhere.

Did you know that espresso is the base for two popular coffee drinks: the ristretto and long shot?

Ristretto: The Concentrated Elixir

For those who are unfamiliar, a ristretto is a shorter and more concentrated version of an espresso shot. It’s made by using the same amount of coffee grounds as a normal espresso shot but with half the amount of water. The result is a sweeter and more full-bodied flavour profile.

Long Shot: The Extended Euphoria

On the other hand, a long shot is essentially the opposite – it uses the same amount of coffee grounds as a regular espresso shot but with double the amount of water. This creates a milder taste and a larger volume of liquid.

Ristretto vs Long Shot: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Personally, I’m more of a ristretto fan. I love the bold, intense flavour that you get from a well-made ristretto shot. But I can respect a good long shot, too.

Of course, there are other factors to consider as well. For example, the type of beans you’re using, the grind size, and the temperature of the water can all affect the final flavour of your shot. And ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what tastes best to you.

Here are some differences that might help you decide between the two drinks.

Ristretto vs Long Shot Main Difference

Extraction differences

As a barista, I can tell you that the espresso extraction process for a ristretto and a long shot is significantly different.

A ristretto is made with less water and a finer grind. The extraction time for a ristretto is shorter, around 15-20 seconds, resulting in a bolder and stronger flavour profile.

The lower amount of water used in a ristretto means that the coffee is less diluted, resulting in a thicker and creamier texture that is perfect for espresso-based drinks like cappuccinos and even creamy lattes.

In contrast, a long shot of espresso is made with more water than a standard shot, creating a larger volume of coffee.

The extraction time for a long shot is longer, around 35-40 seconds, and the grind is coarser than that of a ristretto. Some baristas even increase the brewing temperature to extract even more flavour from the beans.

Flavor differences

As I mentioned earlier, a ristretto is essentially a shorter, more concentrated shot of espresso. It’s made with the same amount of coffee as a regular shot, but with half the amount of water.

This means that the flavour is much more intense and bold, with a thicker and creamier consistency. The reduced amount of water also means that the acidity is lower, resulting in a sweeter taste.

On the other hand, a long shot is the complete opposite. It’s made with the same amount of coffee but with twice the amount of water as a regular shot.

This makes it much milder in flavour, with a lighter consistency and more subtle notes. The increased amount of water also means that the acidity is higher, resulting in a more sour taste.

Strength and intensity

A ristretto is going to be more intense and has a stronger flavour than a long shot. This is because a ristretto is made with the same amount of coffee grounds as a standard shot of espresso, but with half the amount of water.

On the other hand, a long shot is made with a standard shot of espresso but with more water. This dilutes the coffee and makes it less strong and less intense.

Caffeine content

A ristretto is a concentrated shot of espresso made with the same amount of coffee as a regular shot, but with less water. This means that the caffeine is more concentrated in a smaller volume, resulting in a more decisive kick.

On the other hand, a long shot is made using more water and has a longer extraction time, which means more caffeine content per cup.

When to Choose Ristretto

If you’re a fan of the classic Italian espresso shot, ristretto is definitely worth trying. It’s often considered to be the “true” espresso, as it was the traditional way of pulling shots before longer pulls became popular.

Ristretto Shot

It’s also a great option if you find regular espresso shots to be too bitter or acidic.

Ristretto shots are typically smoother and sweeter, thanks to the shorter extraction time. And because the flavour is more concentrated, you can appreciate the nuances of the coffee beans more fully.

Finally, ristretto is a good choice if you’re looking for a pick-me-up without going overboard on caffeine. Because the shot is shorter, it actually contains slightly less caffeine than a regular espresso shot.

Of course, if you’re looking for a real jolt, you can always double up on ristretto shots!

All in all, ristretto is a great option for coffee lovers who want something a little different from their usual espresso shot. It’s a classic, traditional choice with a bold flavour and plenty of character – and as a coffee snob, I highly recommend giving it a try!

When to Choose Long Shot

Long Shot espresso is a great choice for those who love a smooth and mellow taste with a hint of sweetness.

It’s also perfect for those who prefer a larger cup of coffee, such as a latte or cappuccino, as it creates a more balanced and flavorful drink than a traditional espresso shot.

Long Shot Espresso

If you love a smooth and flavorful coffee experience and prefer a larger cup of coffee, then Long Shot espresso is definitely worth a try.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a hot latte on a chilly morning or a refreshing iced coffee on a hot summer day, Long Shot espresso will satisfy your coffee cravings.

Brewing Tips for Ristretto:

  1. Start with a high-quality espresso bean. Ristretto is a concentrated shot of espresso, so the bean quality is crucial to achieving a rich, flavour-packed shot.
  2. Use a finer grind setting than you would for a regular shot of espresso. This will help create a thicker, more syrupy consistency.
  3. Pull the shot for a shorter amount of time. The ideal time for a ristretto shot should be around 15-20 seconds, which will result in a concentrated, ultra-smooth taste.
  4. Use a double-shot basket to achieve the correct ratio of coffee to water. A single-shot basket may produce a shot that is too strong or too weak.
  5. Preheat your espresso machine and cup to ensure the optimal temperature for a perfect ristretto.

Brewing Tips for Long Shot:

  1. Use a light roast coffee bean with bright, fruity notes. Long shots require a lighter roast to avoid overpowering the flavour with bitterness.
  2. Dial in your grinder to a coarser setting than you would for a regular shot. This will prevent over-extraction and a harsh taste.
  3. Aim for a longer shot time, around 35-40 seconds. This will allow for a smoother, more balanced flavour profile.
  4. Adjust the amount of coffee grounds used to achieve the desired strength of your long shot. It’s important to keep an eye on the extraction time to prevent over-extraction.
  5. Experiment with the brew temperature to find the perfect balance between flavour and acidity. A slightly cooler temperature may enhance the bright notes in the coffee.

By following these tips, you can elevate your ristretto and long shot brewing game and enjoy the perfect cup of coffee every time.


All in all, there’s no single best way to make coffee. Whether you’re a fan of the ristretto or prefer the long shot for its intensity, as long as you enjoy your cup of Joe, that’s all that matters in the end.

For those of us wanting to explore something a little different, and jazz up our morning brew just a bit more than normal, it’s worth trying out both types to find out what you like best.

Who says coffee needs to be boring? Get out there and get creative!

And by the way, if you want to explore more differences between espresso drinks, check out espresso vs americano and maybe even our article about ristretto vs espresso!

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Author: Ivan Brozincevic

Ivan fell in love with everything about espresso while he was in college back in 2010, so much so that he decided to quit his education and pursue a career as a barista. Today, Ivan has extensive knowledge about espresso, espresso gear, and everything else related and loves sharing it with others who share his passion.

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