Long Shot VS Ristretto – Key Differences

In this article, we took a close look at Ristretto and Long shot (also known as Lungo), underlined their key differences, and provided useful tips and advice.
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Last updatedLast updated: July 27, 2021
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Now that there is a pod or K-cup available for just about every coffee on the market, as well as a designer espresso machine to create any drink you like, it might be time to examine the difference between a long shot vs. a ristretto.  Most coffee addicts know by now that in the world of caffeine, a long shot is simply a single shot with extra water. A ristretto (meaning restricted in Italian) is its diametric opposite for what is more simply known as a double shot or short shot (meaning it is short water).  By the way, a long shot is called a Lungo in Italian.  Both types can be made in manual espresso machines, Nespresso machines, and other models that use K-Cups

What is Ristretto?

Long Shot VS Ristretto - Key Differences

A ristretto can be simply described as a traditional espresso but made with finer grinds and using one-third of the water or less. The actual time of extraction is usually about 15 seconds. When there is less time for the water to sit on the grounds, the taste of a drink is very mellow and sweet because many bitter components of the ground beans do not have the time to saturate the drink.  In fact, one of the attractions of making a ristretto is that you can use it to create a sweeter, more dessert-like café latte, cappuccino, or flat white.

You can also use a cheaper brand of coffee, like a very dark roast, to make a ristretto, as short extraction time does not allow you to taste the full spectrum of bitterness in the beans. Typically you would be pushing 15ml of water through 7 grams of coffee to make 11ml of concentrated coffee. As long as the beans are finely ground, you can make a great cup of java.

Although many people think the opposite as they equate short shots with a stronger caffeinated drink, ristretto actually has less caffeine in it because it has had a shorter pull through the water.

One of the perks of making a ristretto is that the roast style of the coffee is not as important because the extraction time is very short; you won’t be tasting the full spectrum of bitterness in the beans if they are inexpensive, dark roast. In fact, Ristretto is the favorite café drink of those who want a very mellow cup of coffee that is sweet yet not too strong.  However, it is very crucial that you use the finest grind of coffee you can find, which can mean buying it in a K-Cup Espresso capsule if you are using an automated espresso maker at home.

What is Long Shot?

Long Shot VS Ristretto - Key Differences

The long shot is for caffeine connoisseurs who want to taste every little nuance of the flavor of your chosen coffee bean. Typically, you create a Lungo by pushing 50 milliliters of water through your 7 grams of fine to medium ground beans to make about 45ml of coffee.  The longer extraction time required to make a Longo endows the coffee with fruity, roasted, and smoky notes.  A classic Lungo is pressed for at 60 seconds, with 30 seconds being the minimum time of pull through the water.  A long shot is also sometimes called a tall shot as it is served in a taller 60-ml cup. A long shot has more caffeine than a ristretto as it spents more time brewing in the machine.

Ristretto vs Espresso vs Long shot

Long Shot VS Ristretto - Key Differences

The long shot is for the caffeine connoisseurs who want to taste every little nuance of the flavor of your chosen coffee bean. Typically, you create a Longo by pushing 50 milliliters of water through your 7 grams of fine to medium ground beans to make about 45ml of coffee.  The longer extraction time required to make a Longo endows the coffee with fruity, roasted, and smoky notes.  A classic Lungo is pressed for at 60 seconds, with 30 seconds being the minimum time of pull through the water.  A long shot is also sometimes called a tall shot as it is served in a taller 60-ml cup. A long shot has more caffeine than a ristretto as it has spent more time brewing in the machine.

Tips & Advice

You can use almost any flavor or roast of coffee to make a ristretto

As long as the coffee beans are finely ground, you can make a ristretto with just about any brand of coffee, including those in the Lavazza, Illy, Caffee Vergano, and Kopi Luwak brands of coffee.  Like all coffee drinks, ristrettos taste the best when made with very freshly ground beans, so you might want to invest in a Capresso grinder or a cheaper version of Capresso Grind Pro grinder.

Save time creating longshots in your Nespresso machine.

Nespresso has a line of Nespresso capsules designed to make long shots perfect for making taller drinks, including cappuccinos, flat whites, and Americanos.  If you don’t like the caffeine of a long drink and long to taste the caramel and chocolate flavors of a lungo late at night, then you might enjoy the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Longo flavors that are decaffeinated and sold in a Kcup. Long shots are easily brewed in most automatic espresso makers that provide you with the long-shot option at a push of the button.

Long Shot VS Ristretto - Key Differences

Use a Nespresso machine to make a quick ristretto drink.

According to experts, one of the most efficient ways to make a double espresso is to take advantage of the features on its Vertuo and Vertuoplus coffee machines. This is as simple as choosing the Nespresso capsule you prefer, which is already prefilled with finely ground coffee, perfect for creating shorter shots.

FAQ

Which has a thicker crema – the ristretto or the long shot?

Many people think that it would somehow be creamier than a long shot because of the very fine grind used in ristretto, but the opposite is true. That is because the very short extraction time (less than 30 seconds) does not shoot enough water through the mechanism to produce anything but a thin crema layer. However, a great double shot will often have a grainy, silky layer to it.

What is the extraction time for ristrettos, espressos, and long shots?

When creating a ristretto, extraction is generally abruptly halted at about 15 seconds. Espresso is generally pressed for 25 to 30 seconds, and a long shot is extracted for 60 seconds. Some espresso machines can calculate this automatically for you. If you are a beginner home barista, enjoy a variety of coffees in the 50 Nespresso Original Lungo pack, which contains five different varieties, including the Ethiopian and decaffeinated types of ground coffee, might be an excellent way to determine your own specialty creation.

Why does the ristretto taste so fruity and sweet?

The ristretto tastes naturally sweet compared to the espresso and the lungo simply because the shot of coffee is restricted before any of the coffee’s natural total acidity can penetrate the pressing. If you want a drink that brings out the more acidic chocolate or caramel flavors, then you are better off pressing yourself a tall, long shot for the full sixty seconds. If you want your ristretto to taste a bit more toasted and even a bit burnt, finely grind up a less expensive dark roast and put it through a double shot.

Final Thoughts

Now that we have discussed the difference between the ristretto and the long shot, you might have a better idea of which style of coffee suits you: short and sweet, as is the case with the ristretto or long and strong, as is the case with the Lungo. One factor to remember is that the shorter your coffee is, the less expensive it will be to make, as you can use even the darkest grounds without making a double shot that tastes bitter. However, the best way for you to decide what will be your favorite caffeinated concoction, the Ristretto vs. the Long Shot, is to play with the settings on your espresso machine to find out what works best for you when creating your favorite espresso drink.

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