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Espresso and Ristretto: Which one is better?

The famous Italian Espresso really set the stage for later coffee drinks, but did you know it also has another variation with similar ingredients? We are talking about Ristretto. With just a few differences in the way of preparation, we will have a drink of the “same same but different” Espresso.

What are Espresso and Ristretto?

Espresso is the name for a method of making coffee in a very short time, by putting a moderate amount of finely ground coffee into a filter-like device. Then, under the high pressure of the coffee machine, along with hot water at the right temperature, it passes through a filter device containing coffee powder, which will produce an espresso shot with a layer of crema on top.

Ristretto is a variation of Espresso with a different brewing method, namely less water and a shorter time to produce a more concentrated shot of coffee.

The differences between Espresso and Ristretto

The ratio

The Espresso mixing ratio is usually 1:2 to 1:3, equivalent to using 10g of coffee to make a 20g cup, or 1g to make a 3g cup. For Ristretto, the extraction time is shortened, and the amount of water is also cut in half, so the Ristretto coffee brewing ratio is usually 1:1, equivalent to 10g of coffee for a 10g shot.

Although there is a formula for mixing ratio as above, depending on the region or style of the bartender, there will be a variety of ratio adjustments.

The taste

The most significant and important difference between Ristretto and Espresso is the taste.

The greatness of Ristretto comes from the combination of bitterness and sweetness, and the balance of sweetness and sourness, creating a very pleasant taste when enjoyed. In contrast, Espresso gives a rather strong bitter feeling but is quite creamy and has a long sweet aftertaste. Visually, Ristretto has a more intense and richer flavor than Espresso.

Extraction time

In Italian, Espresso means quick and Ristretto means shortened. So, if it only takes about 25 seconds according to the standard Espresso recipe, then with Ristretto, the extraction process is shortened to only about 15 seconds as it will be interrupted midway, only extracting at the first stage and leaving the last stage.

Because the extraction time is longer, along with more water, substances in the coffee beans, such as caffeine, acidic substances, and bitter taste, will be extracted more by the coffee machine. Therefore, Espresso with a longer extraction time often has a more bitter taste than Ristretto.


A shot of Espresso served to drinkers usually has a volume of 25-30ml, while a shot of Ristretto is usually 15-20ml.

So, Espresso and Ristretto, which is the better choice?

If you like a strong cup of coffee, go for Ristretto. In contrast, Espresso will give you a fuller experience of aromas, including bitterness. On the other hand, if you make a Cappuccino from Ristretto, you will get a very special cup of joe, simply because the milk will diffuse the aroma from Ristretto more.

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