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Making a ristretto shot can be a great way to get your morning caffeine fix in minutes and to pull the perfect shot every time!
Whether you’re just pathing your way into the world of coffee or you’re a simple coffee drinker who wants to know how to make a ristretto shot, you’re in the right place.
Without further ado, let’s get to the basics of making a ristretto shot at home, how to order one at Starbucks, and more.
What Is A Ristretto Shot?
A ristretto shot is a 1 oz. espresso that has been pulled just past the first crack. A ristretto shot is sometimes referred to as a “reduced” or “restricted” shot.
A ristretto is basically an espresso shot with less water.
A ristretto is made of 100% espresso grounds and is the shortest pull on an espresso machine.
One of the things I love about a ristretto shot is the sweetness of the coffee.
The flavor is concentrated and doesn’t dull out as a result of a long pull.
Why are ristretto shots sweeter you might ask? My non-coffee friends often ask me how can a ristretto be sweet when it’s much more strong than a standard espresso?
Well, the answer is the first pull reaction.
When first pulling espresso on an un-perforated machine, water pressure is very low.
As the machine pulls the shot beyond the first crack, higher pressure allows for more flavor to be extracted from the coffee.
In fact, the first reaction that happens is that the sweetness and acidic flavor is extracted from the coffee.
After that, the bitterness starts to dissolve but doesn’t take over the sweetness of the ristretto shot.
Is Ristretto Stronger Than Espresso?
Yes! When consumed, a ristretto shot is actually stronger than a typical espresso.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll notice that ristrettos are more concentrated in flavor and are definitely stronger than your average Americano.
As I said earlier, a ristretto shot is basically an espresso shot with less water.
This is because the first pull of espresso is always the strongest.
Because of this, a ristretto shot usually has more coffee flavor than your average espresso.
Let’s see the main differences between a ristretto shot and an espresso.
Ristretto vs Espresso
To put it simply, when you order a ristretto shot you are technically getting more espresso in your final cup than when you order an espresso in a coffee shop.
Let me explain!
When you order an espresso in a coffee shop, the barista who made your shot is likely pulling the shot at 4 – 5 bars of pressure.
This is lower than what you’re used to pulling on your home machine.
As a result, there will be less flavor extracted from the coffee when compared to a ristretto shot.
On the contrary, when you order a ristretto shot in most coffee shops or restaurants, they are pulling espresso at 6-10 bars of pressure.
This is way more than what most home machines can pull.
This results in higher extraction of flavors during the first pull.
Another main difference between the ristretto shot and an espresso is the shot time.
A ristretto shot is typically a tiny fraction of how long an espresso takes to make.
When you order a ristretto at a coffee shop, it only takes the barista a few seconds to pull the shot.
This gives you a quick and strong shot that can go right into your drink. Whereas an espresso takes between 20 to 30 seconds to pull.
This gives you a bit more time to notice the flavor of the espresso.
So if your barista makes an espresso, will they tell you how long it takes them to make?
If you’re concerned about that, then just ask them if they can make a ristretto shot that is stronger than the espresso they normally serve.
Or try ordering an Americano instead.
An Americano is also less diluted than an espresso so there’s no comparison on how strong it is compared to your typical barista-made shot.
Also, you’ll clearly notice the difference in size. Note that the ristretto is known as the smallest cup of coffee.
And this brings us to a ristretto shot being half of an espresso, which is usually around 35ml or 1 oz of coffee.
What Is A Ristretto Shot At Starbucks?
A ristretto shot at Starbucks is pretty much the same as what you make at home.
When you order a ristretto at Starbucks, the barista will make it with around 7-9 grams of coffee beans (which translates into 15g of coffee grounds) and will let 0.5 oz of water pass through the grounds.
By comparison, a standard espresso shot is around 15g-20g grams of coffee and has a pull time of 20-30 seconds.
But as the ristretto shot is half of an espresso, you can get your drink after 15-20 seconds.
How To Make A Ristretto Shot At Home?
Ok. Now you know what a ristretto shot is and a little bit about how it’s made.
It’s time to go home and try making a batch of ristretto shots yourself!
In this section, you will learn how to make barista-grade ristretto shots from home.
First, get your pieces of equipment and ingredients ready!
What you’ll need
- Coffee Grinder (click here to find the best coffee grinders)
- Coffee Beans (click here to find the best coffee beans for espresso drinks)
- An espresso machine (click here to find the best espresso machines under $500)
- An espresso cup (click here to find the best espresso cups and mugs)
Now, let me tell you that there different ways of making a ristretto shot.
There are actually a few debates on this but I’ll just show you the most popular method to do it.
- Measure 7-9 grams of fresh coffee beans
- Grind your beans to a fine grind.
- Place 15g of coffee grounds in the portafilter
- Tamp the grounds until the portafilter looks flat.
- Place your espresso cup under the spout of your machine
- Start the extraction process by turning on the espresso machine
- Program your machine to stop at 15 seconds or do it manually (keep a timer at hand)
- Enjoy your ristretto!
Here, with this method, you will pull out 1g of coffee at each second.
So, it’s important to stop the process at 15 seconds sharp to get the best shot.
With this method, you can be sure to get a smooth, full-bodied coffee with a balanced sweetness and acidity.
What I also love with this method is that it doesn’t leave a bitter or sour aftertaste in my mouth.
A crucial thing to try to achieve in your coffee experience is to not only focus on getting the right taste on your lips.
Take also into consideration the aftertaste.
If most of the time your coffee leaves a bitter or sour taste in your mouth, that means that you should try to perfect your shots.
Practice makes perfect! Keep practicing!
With a ristretto shot, you will get a really smooth and tasty espresso that has a strong coffee flavor.
The rich taste might be overwhelming at first but you will surely get used to it.
I love pulling a 15 second shot on my espresso machine because it produces an awesome crema with a nice thick texture.
You can find more about how to pull a shot of espresso.
Final Thoughts On The Ristretto Shot
I really hope this little guide on how to make a ristretto shot at home will help you become more coffee-savvy.
It’s definitely worth taking your time to perfect your shots because no one can give you a better espresso than you!
So, now that you know what is a ristretto shot, what is a ristretto shot at Starbucks, ristretto vs espresso, it’s time to go out there and make your own ristretto shots!
If you found this article useful, don’t forget to share it with your friends who’d like to learn how to make a ristretto shot.