Ristretto Vs Long Shot: What is the Difference?

Coffee is not just any random drink. For most of us, it is the morning kick that keeps us going. While some prefer having it on their way to work, others enjoy coffee in their leisure or while stuck in a job. 

If you are a coffee geek, you like to learn and drink simultaneously, which is why you are here- to know the difference between ristretto and long shot (also known as Lungo). 

While the coffee shops have plenty of fascinating drinks on their menu, if you peek into the espresso section, you will find these two highlighted. Hence, today our topic of discussion surrounds ristretto vs. long shot or Lungo. 

Have you grabbed your coffee already? If not, make a quick one, and then let’s get started comparing ristretto vs long shot. 

What is Ristretto?


In order to know the difference between Ristretto and Lungo, we have to know about both these coffees first. Both Ristretto and lungo are espresso. Ristretto is an Italian word, which, if translated, means restricted. It goes with its characteristics well. 

Ristretto is a more concentrated shot than a regular espresso. It uses a small quantity of liquid. It means that less water has run through the coffee grounds, providing it a shorter extraction time, which results in such concentration. 

Now, if we go back to the literal meaning of ristretto (“restrict” in English), this is precisely what is happening- restricting the amount of water to create more concentration. 

Although Ristretto shots are very similar to espresso, they are shorter- almost half of a single espresso shot. Both the preparations use the same ground quantity, yet in the case of ristretto, most of it is pulled in, making it more concentrated than a regular espresso. 

How Does Ristretto Taste?

Taste is one unique factor for ristretto, which separates it from espresso. Even though ristretto is bolder and stronger, it has a sweet flavor with a velvety texture. But, how does it happen? Shouldn’t it be bitter as well, especially when it is less diluted?

The magic lies in the extraction process of ristretto. Different chemicals present in beans have different dilution rates. For example, sweetness and acidity are revealed before bitterness in espresso. 

Even the temperature plays a vital role during the extraction. Since ristretto is extracted using less water at a distinct temperature, the brewing doesn’t touch the point for the beans to give up their bitterness. 

It is how ristretto is sweet and velvety and more concentrated overall. 

Yet, the same extraction process that is responsible for the sweetness of the drink is responsible for its most significant trade-off. Since the brewing process stops at an early stage, the shots miss a lot of good flavors. 

So, this was all about the ristretto and its characteristics. Now, let’s move forward to long shots or Lungo- another Italian delicacy and see how it is different from ristretto. 

What is Long Shot?

Lungo is another Italian-style espresso- the longer brother of ristretto. The point of comparison between these two is simple- both of them are in the espresso line, yet the quantity and the taste differ. The Long shot is the bigger brother in the line, also known by its Italian name, “Lungo.” 

The ground to water ratio in Lungo is 1:3, whereas the same ratio in ristretto was 1:1. So, Lungo uses more water to make the shot longer. The procedure uses a specific water amount to extract coffee from the ground beans. 

Since the extraction process is longer, it contains more caffeine in it. It also makes the drink less strong, ristretto or espresso. 

How Does Lungo Taste?

This is the million-dollar question- how does the Lungo or Long shot taste? Previously we have talked about how the extraction process and the amount of water influence the taste of the coffee. While ristretto had a 1:1 coffee to water ratio, the ratio in Lungo is 1:3

Naturally, it takes almost 1 minute to pull a lungo shot. Hence, the longer the process, the more chemical dilution. While ristretto brewing couldn’t touch the portion where the beans gave up their bitterness, Lungo can. As a result, long shot or Lungo has a bitter taste as compared to ristretto or espresso. 

Here’s a cool translation for you: In French, Espresso lungo is called “Café Allongé.”

Conclusion – Ristretto vs Long Shot

Both Lungo and ristretto are celebrated in the espresso line. If you like to start your morning with a good cup of black, both these drinks will provide you with sufficient energy. Yet, if you want to go for something strong, ristretto will do. At the same time, Lungo is large in quantity and more with caffeine. 

We hope this discussion about Lungo vs Ristretto was helpful and precise in approach. You can check our other related articles and find more about your favorite coffee!

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