Last Updated on October 12, 2022 by Timothy Byron Smith
The espresso has been the latest hype ever since people have started to make the beverage at home. For some, the espresso is an elite drink and they wholeheartedly accept the bitterness it has to offer. But if you’re not one of them, you might want to try the ristretto. The ristretto vs espresso debate has become a hot topic amongst coffee lovers.
Now if you are one of those who hadn’t yet heard about the ristretto, then you’re in for a delightful surprise. This being said, you might be still confused as to what is a ristretto but we’ve got all the basics covered for you.
If you thought the espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos were the only coffee-based drinks, then we’re sorry to burst your bubble. We are going to walk you through the ristretto, its differences from espresso and is it simply better than the others.
Ristretto Vs Espresso
Ever since the Italians introduced the world to espressos, people all over have fallen head over heels for it. This comes as a surprise because honestly speaking, the espresso is a bitter (and for some, hard-to-swallow) beverage. Although it brews curiosity amongst the coffee community, (pun intended!) many of them haven’t yet tried the espresso given its taste.
But not anymore! The ristretto can be a perfect alternative for an espresso. Why is that you wonder? It is because they both have a similar brewing process with just slight changes. But is the ristretto as good as an espresso? You’ll find out soon enough.
What is Ristretto?
To answer that, we need you to imagine an espresso and that too in an even lesser quantity. But could it be less than an espresso, you ask us? That’s just the thing with a ristretto: less water to brew!
A ristretto is a caffeinated beverage that is brewed like an espresso in an espresso machine but with less water. The water forcefully passes through the ground coffee for a lesser time, giving out a more concentrated and flavorful drink at the end.
The Difference Between Ristretto & Espresso
Let’s get down to the particulars! What exactly are the differences between the ristretto coffee and espresso? It can be easy to mistake a ristretto for an espresso, especially if you’re having it for the first time. This is why you should be aware of what’s going on behind the barista’s back!
1. Brewing Method
Before we talk about the differences between both beverages, let’s get one thing straight: you need an espresso machine to brew both. The discretion is in the extraction method. When you pull an espresso shot with a machine, you give it around 25-30 seconds, but for a ristretto, this time reduces to 15-20 seconds.
The second most important factor is the quantity of water used. For a ristretto, the water used to brew the beverage is about half or three-quarters of the water used to brew espresso at home. Therefore, the volume of a single shot of ristretto is somewhere between 15 to 25 ml as compared to the 25-30 ml of espresso.
2. Caffeine Quantity
Some confuse the espresso and the ristretto to have the same amount of caffeine as they are very similar to each other. While some consider the ristretto to have more caffeine content as it uses less water. But neither is the case. In fact, espresso caffeine quantity is significantly more than ristretto.
Although both beverages use the same amount of coffee grind, the extraction time for both differs significantly. To pull a ristretto shot, the time is reduced to half which doesn’t allow the water to fully extract caffeine from the grind.
3. Flavor And Taste
An espresso, topped with a layer of crema, is known for its bitter yet rich and concentrated flavor. Its fine grind makes gives the beverage a potent taste but be aware a more than usual finer grind could make the espresso sour.
On the other hand, the ristretto is even more concentrated than an espresso but surprisingly it tastes less bitter. This is because of the extraction time that is halved from that of an espresso. Many say that the ristretto has sweet tasting notes, making it a delightful drink.
How to Decide Between Ristretto and Espresso?
Are you perplexed which drink is better and which one you should try? The answer to that lies within. What matters most, are your preferences! If you prefer a less concentrated, less flavorful taste, then the espresso is your go-to.
However, if you’re looking for something less bitter and more flavorful, then a ristretto could be a perfect pick. If you feel that a single shot won’t do for you, then order a double ristretto.
The Bottom Line
Whether you decide to go for an espresso or a ristretto, the choice is solely yours, but now you can make a better and informed choice. From the differences to the similarities, you know all the details.
Fortunately, this brings the ristretto vs espresso discussion to an end as each stands unique in its own way! Remember to enjoy the aroma, texture, and flavor of each beverage before you sip it down.
Tim is the author and webmaster of this blog. He is a coffee aficionado who has always strived to succeed by simplifying the many facets of the coffee business into engaging and informative writing. In addition to helping readers discover their next brew, he intends to educate them about espresso and coffee.