Ristretto VS. Long Shot: 6 Differences You Need To Know

Ristretto and long shot are both espresso variants. The ristretto is made with a shorter extraction time and the long shot has a longer extraction time. Espresso is the base of these two drinks, which have different Water Ratios, Caffeine Contents, Recipe Types, Aromas, and Taste Profiles.

Coffee plays a hugely influential part in many people’s daily lives – some drink it in the morning, others grab it on their way to work, and still, others enjoy sipping it at their favorite café in the afternoon or evening. Coffee gives us a good boost, fuels us up, and most importantly, tastes delicious! 

If you want to add a new caffeinated beverage to your favorite list, you first have to know the most popular types of espressos. Also, among those which types are the talk of the town? By the way, we want to fill this one for you, they are Ristretto and Long Shot, also known as Lungo.

We will talk in-depth about ristretto vs. long shot (lungo) here; along with that, we will share how to make them, and lastly, some informative frequently asked questions that will quench your curiosity.

What Is A Ristretto?

ristretto vs long shot

The Italian word Ristretto basically means restricted. So, it is defined as a drink of very concentrated, strong espresso. It is liquid in small quantities and it is very concentrated.

The ristretto shots are similar to an espresso. However, it is only half of a single shot, preferably 0.5oz or 15mL of an espresso shot. While it uses the same quantity of grounds as an espresso, it’s pulled in half of the time. So, it results in a less bitter taste beverage.

The nature of how a Ristretto is brewed avoids all of the negative qualities the coffee offers with longer brewing methods. When you extract coffee using pressure and quickly, all of the good traits of the coffee are the first to come out. The longer your extraction process lasts, the more negative flavors, oils, and qualities are released.

What Is A Long Shot (Lungo)?

long shot vs ristretto

The long shots are another sub-type of Americano espresso coffee. Also known as the Lungo or Caffè Lungo. It is an Italian process by using an espresso machine to prepare this coffee. This process uses a certain amount of water to extract the coffee from the ground beans. Which results in getting an increased shot that is larger in volume. Thus the name lungo, Italian for long.

For bringing out the long shots, typically the quantity of water utilized is double in amount than that is used for a regular shot of espresso. The use of extra water results in an espresso drink that has more caffeine. Also, it features unique darker notes in the taste.

The longer period of extraction also breaks down the higher notes of the coffee. In the aftermath, you will end up with a more bitter taste than the casual espresso shot. A long shot of espresso in volume is about 1.5 oz or 45 ml.

In French, a long shot of espresso is called café Allonge.

Ristretto VS. Long Shot: 6 Key Differences

difference between long shot and ristretto

Those who at first glance can’t pick between classic espressos, ristretto, and lungo should try to get a closer view. It is mainly the level of grinding. The roasting and blending process makes the difference between the methods of preparation.

While the lungo, having a rather coarsen ground is ideally equipped for a prolonged processing time. On the other hand, the ristretto with a highly fragrant aroma flows into the cup within a few moments. And it performs so with substantially less liquid.

The ristretto needs the least coffee in the cup while the lungo needs the most. This also spells out why many coffee connoisseurs admit the ristretto to be the most sophisticated of all coffees. Ristretto is a highly concentrated coffee. A lungo, in comparison, is the milder and less concentrated version of preparation. Both have their advantages on aromatic notes. Let’s find out everything in detail.

Grounds To Water Ratio

Basically, a Ristretto is a standard espresso variant method. The underlined factor is a Ristretto is made by limiting the water supply by almost half, compared to a casual espresso shot.

The key difference between a Ristretto and a long shot (Lungo) is that a Lungo remains too dependent on the amount of water that filters through its coffee bed. For lungo, it is double the amount of water compared to a standard espresso shot. Both can be made in an espresso machine.

Caffeine Content

Limiting the water supply guarantees the bed of coffee grounds isn’t overly saturated with water. As a result, creates lower caffeine content.

For Lungo, adding double the amount of water the caffeine content gets lowered even more than an espresso and a Ristretto.

The Recipe

The traditional recipe for an American Ristretto shot contains 8 grams of coffee per 15 ml of water. This should give an approximate 12 ml of drinkable coffee.

The traditional recipe for a Lungo is 8 grams of coffee per 55ml of water. This will produce about 50ml of coffee shot.


The Ristretto VS. Lungo debate gets heated when it comes to aroma. The Ristretto method produces heightened aromatic flavors, because of the short extraction period. The Ristretto process cares more about achieving aromatic tones rather than making a highly caffeinated espresso.

However, Lungo’s method produces even more strong aromatic flavors. Not only that, but most of it, and even possibly all, of the bitter heightened notes of the coffee will be fully diluted due to the longer extraction period.

Coffee taste Profile

Ristretto espresso formula makes powerful earth-like, floral aromatic notes due to the high pressure and short, less stringent extraction time.

Lungo flavors are akin to roasted, smoky tones. It’s a kind of one-dimensional type of drink in terms of the flavor profile.

Earthy Note VS. Smoky Note

Finally, there is Ristretto VS. Long Shot’s flavor notes. Ristretto’s crema is relatively thinner than an espresso. Decreased chocolate flavors and little earthy notes. The chocolate, earthy flavors are replaced by floral and aromatic notes.

Lungo has less crema. You might feel like the Lungo has been burnt. Because of the overly strong notes created. However, many folks enjoy this mature taste over other paltrier types.

What Is Espresso And Its Characteristics?

As you probably already know espresso is the base for many other coffee drinks. Ristretto and Lungo (also known as a long shot) are two espresso drinks among them.

But before even starting to jump into the Ristretto VS. Long Shot discourse, we should talk a little bit about the base – The Espresso itself first.

  • The espresso brewing method entails pressure, precisely a rather high-level pressure. So it can produce lower levels of caffeine per serving compared to other coffee-related drinks produced by methods that need prolonged brewing time
  • Espresso is extracted from 8 – 10 grams of finely ground coffee. Some Italians argue it should be less. About 6.5 +/- 1.5 grams. Regardless, it should be served in half of a 50ml cup

The crema is important; as the surface of the drink gets exposed and cools down faster without it. Consequently, the drink loses the balance, and smoothness of its taste, and gains a perceived acidity.

It should carry a unique tiny bubbled, brown foamed thick layer. It’s known as the crema. Espresso is meant to be drunk immediately. So the crema will not get shrunk.

How To Make Ristretto

Part – 1: Preparing The Ristretto

  • Select your coffee beans. Such as Robusta or an Arabica bean
  • You should grind your coffee beans finer than an espresso grind. A finer grind will make sure less water goes through the beans. Resulting in a less bitter taste
  • An espresso machine is required to make a ristretto
  • Ready an espresso cup. Most ristrettos are offered in espresso cups. So make sure that you have one too!

Part – 2: Pulling The Ristretto

  • Fill up the espresso machine’s reservoir with filtered, cold water. Unfiltered water will not taste good and distilled water can harm the machine. Hard water can pile up lime inside your machine
  • Let your water warm up. Most espresso machines will have a light signal that gets turned on from red to green to signify that the water is heated to the required level
  • In the filter, place 14 grams of the coffee grounds. It will make a single-serve of strong ristretto
  • In the filter, tamp the coffee
  • Return the filter to the espresso machine. Put the filter back into the machine. Now you are ready to brew!
  • Brew coffee for 15 seconds. You should end up with approximately 15 mL or 0.5 oz. of coffee
ristretto or long shot

The Shortcut Method

We are including this process not because it will produce a true ristretto but because of certain espresso machines or super-automatics equipped with pressurized filters. You will most likely have not sufficient control to perform the method we’ve described above. So, word of caution: Avoid this method if you can! But it will take you partly to your likely outcome. Below we tell you how it is done.

  • Get your grind as fine as you can possibly achieve for the espresso machine you are using
  • Perform the Tamping as usual
  • Start your coffee extraction. Allow it to run until you have coffee of 30 mL for a double Ristretto

This way of preparing is generally going to offer you an espresso that has been halted halfway. So it will not be as thick or syrupy as a real ristretto. But if that’s all your coffee machine will offer, it’s better than having nothing!

How Do You Pull A Perfect Ristretto Shot?

One of the ways to make a Ristretto shot is to stop the extraction sooner than normal. So that less of the water has passed through the grounds than normal. This is commonly performed in cafes.

Another method to make a Ristretto shot is to use a finer grind of coffee size than normal. Meanwhile using the usual extraction time when the shot is pulled.

The third method is to tamp/compact the roast and ground coffee more firmly in the portafilter. The increased tamping of the coffee will allow you to keep the normal extraction time and requires no special grinding. If you roast green coffee beans with your coffee roaster, please be more careful!

How To Make Lungo

Lungo shots are a different version of the Americano. It is a shot of espresso topped up with warm water. The long shot is a full long cup extraction through the grounded coffee. It contains lots of caffeine and can taste quite bitter.

Here are the steps and tips on making a quality lungo shot.

  • Use 7 to 10 grams of grounded coffee for each shot
  • The extraction method begins with hot water under medium pressure. The key here is to mirror brewed coffee. With a long extraction time and lots of water
  • The duration of extraction for 5 to 7 ounces per shot has to happen relatively slowly. Around 60 seconds on most machines or around 10 bar pressure
  • Crema should be very heavy as well as light brown colored. But remember, it will also give a slightly sour taste. The produced shot will have much more caffeine compared to the other shots
  • Serve it in a regular cup. You can add a dash of milk to your acquired taste. This coffee can taste somewhere between sour and bitter
espresso long shot vs ristretto

Relation Between Nespresso And Lungo

There are several varieties of specialized Lungo capsules within the Nespresso range. Nespresso both makes capsules and Nespresso machines to make and accommodate Lungo drinks.

  • Nespresso Lungos does not have more caffeine than a regular Espresso
  • Mostly enjoyed by those who like a milder coffee with a greater flavor profile
  • Nespresso Lungo capsules preserve the body and the flavor as full and satisfying
  • 6.25 oz. is the best cup size compared to an ideal Espresso cup of 2 oz. (60 mL). Nespresso recommends a Lungo cup Size of 5 oz. or 140 mL. That is basically a coffee mug size. An espresso, on the other hand, is the size of a cup
  • The authentic size setting for Nespresso Lungo espresso is 3.75 oz. or 110mL. Meaning this is how much espresso coffee will fill a cup
  • Nespresso Lungo capsules are specifically designed to be primly refined in a longer extraction for a large cup. It maintains its full flavor potential
  • The Nespresso machines even have a button to do with Lungo capsule types. It automatically pours more water for the desired Lungo-sized Nespresso cup

Differences Within More Espresso Variants

Double Espresso VS. Long Shot

If you’re new to the world of coffee, you might not know the difference between a double and a single shot of espresso. In this section, we’ll explore the differences between these two types of espresso so that you can order with confidence the next time you’re at your favorite coffee shop.

  • Size: A double espresso (doppio) is 2 shots of espresso in one cup. A long shot, on the other hand, is a single shot of espresso mixed with hot water. This makes it a little less potent than a double espresso but still quite strong
  • Brewing Time: A double shot will take twice as long to brew as a single shot, while a long shot will take about 50% longer to brew. This means that double shots will have a stronger flavor, while long shots will be more mellow
  • Caffeine Content: A double espresso has more caffeine than a long shot, but not by as much as you might think. According to an article from Caffeine Informer, a double espresso only has about 30% more caffeine than a long shot. So if you’re looking for an extra boost of energy, a double espresso is one way to go
  • Taste: If you’re not a fan of strong coffee flavors, stick with a long shot. A long shot will taste more like regular coffee because it is diluted with water

Americano VS. Long Shot

There are some differences between an Americano and a Long Shot. An Americano is made with espresso shots and hot water, while a Long Shot is just an espresso extracted for a longer time.

  • Water Ratio: This difference in ratio creates two very different drinks, the Americano (1:1) being weaker and the long shot (2:1) being stronger
  • Grind Size: The grind size for an Americano is finer than for a long shot because the longer brewing time allows for a coarser grind size without over-extracting the coffee
  • Brewing Process: An Americano is created by adding hot water to an espresso that has already been brewed. On the flip side, a long shot is made by brewing espresso with hot water

Ristretto VS. Regular Espresso Shot

A shot of espresso has about 1 – 3 oz. of concentrated, intense flavored coffee. Hot, pressurized water runs through the grounds and extracts the bold flavors in between 20 – 30 seconds.

A Ristretto is pulled using the same process. The difference is that it’s only half the water and a shorter time is applied. Resulting in a very concentrated shot of a small espresso drink.

  • Quantity – A Ristretto is 0.75 oz. A regular shot of Espresso is about 1 oz.
  • Taste – A Ristretto shot has less extraction time. Therefore produces a bolder, more concentrated, sweeter finish than an Espresso shot
  • Caffeine Level – Less extraction time means less caffeine. A Ristretto shot has slightly less caffeine than a regular shot of Espresso

Espresso VS. Americano

Water is forced through the finely ground coffee. It happens at high pressure. Such creates a thick, richly flavored drink called Espresso. Espresso is typically brewed in small amounts (1 oz. per extraction).

Americano is made by placing one or two shots of espresso into a 6-ounce mug. Then hot water gets added in an (espresso to hot water) 1:2 ratio. This will give you a smoother, richer, stronger, and more flavorful coffee. You can add less or more water to suit your personal taste. The addition of cream, milk, and/or sugar is also allowed.


Which is stronger Ristretto or Lungo?

Ristretto is a limited espresso. Lungo is a long espresso made by allowing the extraction continues for more than half a minute. Typically a lungo is a 60 ml coffee with more soluble. It also contains more caffeine than the ristretto or the other espressos.

What does Lungo mean?

Lungo, Italian for long, is a caffeine beverage made by using an espresso machine to create an Italian-style coffee that is short black, a single espresso shot. It also comes with much more water, twice as much generally. Resulting in a larger quantity of coffee, a lungo.

Do the long shots have more caffeine?

Lungo will have less caffeine per mL. But it will have more caffeine in the drink overall.

Why are ristretto shots sweeter?

When less amount of warm water is forced through the finely ground coffee beans, the result is a more intense flavor. The coffee tastes less bitter and sweeter because of the shorter period of the extraction process.

What does the upside-down mean at Starbucks?

If a drink at Starbucks is ordered upside-down, it means the technique for it is reversed. So for example, for an upside-down caramel macchiato, the steps to make it would begin with caramel and finish with vanilla syrup.

Can You Add Milk To A Lungo?

Even though Lungo is viewed as a black coffee variant you can add milk to it.

How Many Shots Of Espressos Are Inside Of A Nespresso Capsule?

It was originally one shot of espresso per capsule but in 2018 Nespresso launched a double shot of espresso per capsule.

What Does Lungo Mean In Nespresso?

“Lungo” is an Italian word that translates to “long” in English. In the context of Nespresso, a lungo is a type of coffee drink that is made by extracting more water through the coffee capsule, resulting in a longer and milder coffee compared to an espresso. It’s typically about twice the volume of an espresso shot, producing a longer and more diluted coffee beverage.

Final Words

Coffee in itself is a beverage that can be consumed and savored in so many different ways. If you are searching for something to offer you the perfect caffeine kick as well as simple things in life, then the ideal choice is to go all out for pure shots of ristretto.

However, if something that is so concentrated does not meet your craving or palate and yet you need a simple drink of coffee, then your safe bet is with the long shot of espresso or also known as Lungo in Italian.

Enjoy Your Coffee!

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