What is Ristretto Shot?

Ristretto is an intense shot of espresso served black. You make ristretto the same way you make an espresso: with an espresso machine. But the volume is smaller than a typical espresso. A ristretto shot has a volume of 15 to 20 mL, while espresso is 25 to 35 mL, but you make both with the same amount of ground coffee. Because the ristretto is more concentrated, it is richer and sweeter. It is distinct from a short shot, simply a smaller espresso that is not more concentrated.

What kind of coffee is a ristretto?

A ristretto is an espresso-based coffee drink. It is a highly concentrated form of coffee, usually served without any added milk or sweeteners. It is traditionally made with dark roast coffee, but various types of coffee can be used.

The flavor of a ristretto is not the same as an espresso; it is stronger and sweeter. This occurs for three reasons:

  • The first part of any extraction is the most concentrated, as you will see if you prepare any espresso drink.
  • The flavor compounds that extract fastest will be more prominent in a ristretto, and the slower extracting compounds tend to be the ones that contribute to bitterness.
  • A ristretto will also contain fewer chemical compounds overall than a longer extraction, thus leading to a different balance of tastes and aromas.

Where does ristretto coffee come from?

The ristretto is a traditional Italian espresso drink. The word ristretto means “restricted” in Italian because the ristretto uses a finer grinder that results in a restricted flow compared with an espresso. In French, this drink is called a café serré, which means a “tight coffee.” It is the smallest of all the types of coffee drinks.

Ristretto gained popularity in North America in the 1980s thanks to David Schomer, owner of Seattle’s famous Espresso Vivace café. Schomer has described a properly prepared ristretto shot as the finest of coffee extracts, saying it has “the ability to preserve the fragrance of the roast, and caramelized sugars, through the brewing process into a thick chiffon with a silky mouth-feel.”

How to Make a ristretto shot coffee

A ristretto coffee aka ristretto espresso is made using an espresso machine and very fine coffee grounds. The exact steps to follow are presented below.


  • 20 g very finely ground coffee beans
  • Water
  • Espresso machine
  • Coffee scale