What is ristretto?
Ristretto can be seen as the little brother of an espresso. So before we start with ristretto, let’s first have a look at espresso. An espresso is a little shot of coffee of 30 ml. High pressure and extreme hot water will be pushed through your finely grinded dry coffee for 25-30 seconds to create an intense beverage with a full body and a crema layer. Lots of people find espressos too strong to handle and like to add milk to their beverages to create a flat white or a cappuccino for example. A ristretto might be the little brother or sister of an espresso, don’t be fooled by the word ‘little’, because this little beverage has a lot to offer.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ESPRESSO AND RISTRETTO?
In Italian ristretto means ‘restricted’, and it literally translates into your coffee cup. A ristretto is a restricted version of an espresso. Simply put: when you order a ristretto in a coffee bar or cafe, you can ask the barista to limit the amount of espresso. And if you encounter a well-trained barista, he or she knows exactly what to do. A barista will tell you that a ristretto is all coffee from 15 till 25 ml. You are probably wondering why anyone would order less coffee? More is always better, right? In most cases it is, but with ristretto it’s all about quality rather than quantity. When less water is pushed through your coffee machine this results in a more concentrated taste. The coffee tastes sweeter and less bitter because of the shorter extraction time.
HOW DOES YOUR BARISTA MAKE A RISTRETTO?
Some baristas and coffee bars make a ristretto in the same way as an espresso. Others like to do it differently. All ristretto shots have the same amount of dried coffee, water pressure and water temperature as espressos. On the other hand they use less water. Baristas will do this by pulling your espresso cup from the machine after 15 seconds or by grinding coffee beans longer so the coffee is finer and it will take them the same time to make a ristretto like an espresso.
WHY A RISTRETTO?
We can say that your choice of coffee is based on your personal taste. If you are looking for an easy drinkable variant of an espresso, then a ristretto is a nice option. You will appreciate the accentuated sweetness and intensity in a smaller variant, but still experience the same caffeine boost. On the other hand, an espresso can offer you a more complex cup of coffee with light hints of bitterness.
Go and investigate to find out what you like best by trying different types of coffee yourself. Try ristretto and espresso in all forms: with milk, with different beans and different baristas. Take notes and choose your favorite!