Blonde Espresso vs Ristretto

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Two cups of coffee with flowers and Blonde Espresso on a wooden table.
Table of Contents
Two cups of coffee with flowers and Blonde Espresso on a wooden table.

Ever wondered what’s the difference between a blonde espresso and ristretto? It’s intriguing to learn that while both are espresso variants, their flavors, roast level and brewing process greatly differ.

This article will clarify these differences and help you decide which one suits your palate best. Ready for a caffeine-fueled adventure into the world of coffee?

Blonde Espresso vs Ristretto

The difference between Blonde Espresso and Ristretto is rooted in the type of coffee bean used and the extraction process. Blonde Espresso is made from lightly roasted beans, which result in a smoother, sweeter, and less acidic flavor profile compared to traditional espresso.

It offers a lighter, more nuanced taste experience that can appeal to those who find regular espresso too intense or bitter.

On the flip side, a Ristretto is a concentrated shot of espresso, extracted with less water for a shorter time to produce a more robust, intense flavor. Unlike Blonde Espresso, it doesn’t aim for a lighter taste but focuses on delivering a bold, full-bodied experience.

Choosing between Blonde Espresso and Ristretto depends on whether you’re seeking a milder, more approachable espresso shot or a concentrated, intense coffee burst.

Key Takeaways

  • Blonde espresso is made from lightly roasted coffee beans, resulting in a milder and sweeter flavor compared to regular espresso.
  • Ristretto is a concentrated espresso shot with half the amount of water used, resulting in a shorter extraction time and stronger flavor.
  • Blonde espresso originated in the Pacific Northwest in the early 2000s, while ristretto has its roots in traditional Italian coffee culture.
  • The brewing process for blonde espresso involves a longer extraction time, while ristretto has a shorter extraction time and uses less water.
  • Blonde espresso offers a mild and citrusy flavor profile with more caffeine compared to regular espresso. Ristretto has an intense and full-bodied taste.
  • Blonde Espresso generally contains less caffeine compared to Ristretto but still packs more caffeine than regular espresso.


Blonde Espresso Definition: Blonde espresso is a type of espresso that is made from lightly roasted coffee beans, resulting in a milder and sweeter flavor profile compared to regular espresso.

Ristretto DefinitionRistretto is a concentrated espresso shot that uses the same amount of coffee grounds as a regular espresso shot but with half the amount of water, resulting in a shorter extraction time and a stronger flavor.

Blonde Espresso Definition

Blonde espresso is a type of coffee. It looks light and has more sweetness than other coffees. This happens because it uses beans that are not roast as long as others. They are called light roast beans.

The taste is not heavy or strong, in fact, it’s quite mild compared to regular espresso! If you compare them side by side, blonde espresso does have more caffeine too.

Ristretto Definition

A ristretto is a kind of espresso shot. But it uses less water than regular espresso. This makes the ristretto taste more intense and full-bodied. It also has a thick layer on top known as crema.

Making ristretto is like making espresso but faster. The process, or extraction time, takes only 12-15 seconds. Because of this short brew time, servings of ristretto are usually smaller in size than other espressos.

Ristretto offers an invigorating sip to every coffee lover out there.

Historical Origins

Blonde Espresso Origins: Blonde espresso is a relatively new addition to the coffee scene, first introduced by Starbucks in 2018. It was created as a response to customers’ desire for a milder and sweeter tasting espresso.

Ristretto Origins: Ristretto has been around for much longer and can be traced back to traditional Italian coffee culture. The term “ristretto” means “restricted” or “limited” in Italian, referring to the shorter extraction time and smaller volume of water used compared to regular espresso.

Blonde Espresso Origins

Blonde espresso comes from the Pacific Northwest. It started in the early 2000s. Coffee roasters there tried new ways to roast coffee. They made a lighter roast. This is not like the usual dark roasts for espresso.

The name “blonde” shows the light golden color of this type of espresso. Latin American and East African coffee beans are used to make blonde espresso. This gives it a unique taste and acidity level that differs from regular espresso.

Ristretto Origins

Ristretto has its origins in Italy, where it was created as a shorter and stronger version of espresso. The word “ristretto” means “restricted” or “shortened” in Italian, which refers to the smaller size of the drink compared to regular espresso.

It is made using the same amount of ground coffee as espresso but with a finer grind. The extraction time for ristretto is shorter, usually around 12-15 seconds, resulting in a more intense and concentrated flavor.

This distinct style of coffee arrived in the United States later than espresso did and has since gained popularity among coffee connoisseurs who appreciate its bold taste and rich history.

Brewing Process

The brewing process for blonde espresso and ristretto involves different water-to-coffee ratios, extraction times, and pressure and temperature levels.

Water and Coffee Ratio

The water-to-coffee ratio plays a crucial role in the taste and strength of your espresso. In traditional Espresso shots, the ratio is 1 part coffee to 2 parts water, resulting in a balanced and flavorful drink.

If you prefer a more concentrated and stronger taste, you can try Ristretto shots with a 1:1 ratio instead. This means using equal amounts of coffee and water. The different ratios in brewing processes like ristretto and long shots can lead to variations in flavor profiles as well.

So, next time you make an espresso at home or order one at a café, keep in mind that the water-to-coffee ratio is key to achieving your desired taste experience.

Extraction Time

The extraction time is a crucial factor when it comes to brewing coffee. For ristretto, the extraction time is about 15 to 20 seconds, which is half the time of a regular espresso shot.

This shorter extraction time results in a stronger and more concentrated flavor. On the other hand, the extraction time for blonde espresso can vary depending on personal preference but is typically longer than ristretto.

The amount of time that water interacts with coffee grounds during extraction plays an important role in determining the balance of flavors and overall quality of the final brew.

Pressure and Temperature

The pressure and temperature are crucial factors in brewing espresso. For the best extraction, the water temperature should be between 195° to 205° F (90° – 96° C). This ensures that the coffee grounds release their flavors effectively when hot water passes through them.

Brew pressure can be adjusted to optimize the flavor and strength of the espresso shot. Experimenting with different pressures allows baristas to achieve varying taste profiles from bold and full-bodied to milder and sweeter.

By controlling these variables, baristas can create a perfectly brewed cup of espresso every time.

Flavor and Aroma Differences

Blonde Espresso offers a milder and sweeter flavor profile, while Ristretto has a smoky and concentrated taste.

Blonde Espresso

Blonde espresso is a type of espresso that has a mild and citrusy flavor. It is known for its subtle sweetness and higher caffeine content compared to regular espresso. The beans used in blonde espresso are roasted for a shorter period of time, resulting in a milder taste.

This type of espresso can have hints of citrus, chocolate, or malt in its flavor profile. Blonde espresso is not inherently stronger than regular espresso, but it offers a different taste experience for those who prefer a milder and sweeter coffee option.


Ristretto is a type of espresso that is brewed with a shorter extraction time than regular espresso. This means that less hot water passes through the coffee grounds, resulting in a smaller and more concentrated shot.

The flavor of ristretto shots is often described as sweeter and richer compared to long shot espressos. It has a higher concentration of coffee flavor, making it popular among coffee lovers who enjoy an intense and full-bodied taste experience.

Ristretto contains more caffeine than regular espresso, so it can give you an extra boost if you need it. Overall, ristretto offers a unique and satisfying coffee experience for those who prefer their espresso on the bolder side.

Caffeine Content

Blonde Espresso generally contains less caffeine compared to Ristretto, making it a milder option for those who want to enjoy the flavors of espresso without too much caffeine. Ristretto, on the other hand, is a concentrated shot of espresso that packs a higher amount of caffeine in a smaller serving size.

Blonde Espresso Caffeine Content

Blonde Espresso has slightly more caffeine than regular espresso, which is made from darker roasted beans. The average caffeine content of a shot of Blonde Espresso is around 85 mg.

If you order a tall-sized Blonde coffee at Starbucks, it will have approximately 120 mg of caffeine. If you go for an espresso shot from the grande machine, be prepared because it contains a whopping 360 mg of caffeine! So, if you’re looking for that extra boost in your morning cuppa, choosing Blonde Espresso might be the way to go.

Ristretto Caffeine Content

Ristretto shots have slightly less caffeine compared to standard espresso. While a regular espresso shot contains about 75 milligrams of caffeine, a ristretto shot only has around 58 milligrams for the same amount.

This is because ristretto is more concentrated, but it has less overall volume, resulting in lower caffeine content in each serving. The exact caffeine levels may vary depending on factors like the type of coffee beans used.

However, in general, a ristretto shot will have lower caffeine levels than a regular espresso shot because it extracts fewer flavor compounds from the coffee beans.

Uses in Popular Drinks

Blonde Espresso is commonly used in popular drinks such as the Blonde Vanilla Latte, providing a milder and sweeter flavor profile compared to regular espresso. Ristretto shots, on the other hand, are often preferred for those who enjoy a more concentrated and intense espresso experience.

Blonde Espresso in Popular Drinks

Blonde espresso is a popular choice in various coffee beverages. Here are some drinks that feature blonde espresso:

  • Blonde Vanilla Latte: This drink combines the smooth taste of blonde espresso with the sweetness of vanilla syrup and steamed milk.
  • Blonde Caramel Macchiato: A classic favorite, this drink combines blonde espresso, creamy milk, and caramel drizzle for a deliciously sweet treat.
  • Blonde Americano: For those who enjoy a stronger kick, an Americano made with blonde espresso provides a milder taste compared to traditional espresso shots.
  • Blonde Cold Brew: The lighter flavor profile of blonde espresso makes it ideal for cold brews. Enjoy a refreshing iced coffee with less bitterness and a smoother finish.
  • Blonde Mocha: Indulge in this rich and decadent drink that combines the flavors of chocolate and blonde espresso, topped with whipped cream.
  • Blonde Flat White: Experience the velvety texture of steamed milk combined with the smoothness of blonde espresso in this Australian-style coffee.

Ristretto in Popular Drinks

Ristretto is a popular choice in many espresso-based drinks. It is loved for its intense flavor and concentrated nature. Here are some popular drinks that feature ristretto:

  • Ristretto Shot: A pure and concentrated form of ristretto, enjoyed by those who appreciate a strong coffee taste.
  • Ristretto Macchiato: A shot of ristretto with a dollop of foamed milk on top, providing a balance between the intensity of the ristretto and the creaminess of the milk.
  • Ristretto Americano: Ristretto shots topped with hot water to create a smooth and flavorful drink, perfect for those who enjoy a milder taste.
  • Ristretto Mocha: Ristretto combined with chocolate syrup and steamed milk, creating a rich and indulgent beverage.
  • Ristretto Affogato: A scoop of vanilla ice cream drowned in ristretto shots, resulting in a delightful combination of hot and cold flavors.

Choosing Between Blonde Espresso and Ristretto

Consider your personal preferences and the occasion in order to make a decision between Blonde Espresso and Ristretto.

Considering personal preferences

When it comes to choosing between blonde espresso and ristretto, your personal taste preferences are key. If you prefer a milder and less bitter taste, then blonde espresso might be more appealing to you.

If you enjoy a stronger and richer flavor, you may lean towards ristretto. It’s all about what suits your palate and brings you enjoyment when savoring your espresso drink.

Factors such as individual health considerations can also play a role in making this decision. So take some time to consider what flavors you prefer and how they align with your personal preferences before making a choice between these two options.

Determine the appropriate occasion

To determine the appropriate occasion for choosing between Blonde Espresso and Ristretto, you need to consider your personal preferences and the context in which you’ll be enjoying your coffee.

If you prefer a milder and sweeter flavor profile with a higher caffeine content, then Blonde Espresso might be the better choice for you. On the other hand, if you prefer a more concentrated and full-bodied taste with a richer flavor, Ristretto could be what you’re looking for.

Think about the mood or setting of the occasion. A relaxed morning at home may call for a smooth cup of Blonde Espresso, while an afternoon pick-me-up during a busy workday might require the boldness of Ristretto.


When comparing blonde espresso and ristretto, there are significant differences in flavor, caffeine content, and brewing process. Blonde espresso offers a milder taste with a citrusy flavor profile and higher caffeine content.

Ristretto, on the other hand, is highly concentrated and sweet. Both options provide unique characteristics that cater to different coffee preferences.


What is the main difference between blonde espresso and ristretto?

The main difference lies in the bean’s roast and extraction time. Blonde espresso uses light or ‘blonde’ roast coffee beans while Ristretto is a short shot of regular, typically dark roasted, espresso pulled with half amount of hot water.

How does the roasting process affect blonde espresso vs regular espresso?

In the roasting process, beans for blonde espresso aren’t roasted as long as those for regular one which are dark roasted coffee beans. This results in a significant difference in taste; blonde espressos have a smoother flavor while regular ones can be more bitter.

Does Starbucks offer both types of espressos?

Yes! Both types are there at Starbucks Coffee Shop— their signature Espresso Roast for regular ones and Blonde Espresso Roast for lighter shots.

What’s different about how you make ristretto vs long shot?

To make ristretto, also known as ‘short’, less hot water goes through an equally tamped (packed) amount of coffee grounds making it less bitter than a longer shot that uses more water over same grounds called long shot or “lungo”.

Are there differences in caffeine amounts between blonde versus regular espressos?

While some may think darker means stronger, actually since the blonde variety stays less time under heat during processing its capacity to keep you awake could be higher than that from its counterpart.

Can I use any type of bean to create these drinks at home?

Surely- just remember Blonde Espresso calls for light ‘Blonde’roast beans and standard or Ristretto calls for Darker ones – all can be created using your home-use espresso machine.

About the Author:
Sophia Lewis, a travel blogger with a focus on global coffee cultures, explores coffee traditions from Colombia to Turkey. Her expertise lies in understanding the cultivation, brewing, and enjoyment of coffee in different cultures. Through articles, travel vlogs, and tastings, Sophia brings a global perspective to coffee, emphasizing ethical and sustainable practices, and invites readers to join her community of global coffee enthusiasts.