How Many Shots Are in a Ristretto?

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Ever puzzled over what makes a ristretto different from your regular cup of espresso? Here’s an intriguing fact: A ristretto, contrary to common belief, uses the same amount of coffee as an espresso but differs in water volume.

This article will demystify the brewing technique behind this specialized shot and shed light on how many shots are actually in a ristretto. Dive in now for your own personal masterclass on this small but powerful drink!

Key Takeaways

  • A ristretto shot contains the same amount of ground coffee as an espresso shot but uses less water, resulting in a smaller and more concentrated drink.
  • Typically, a ristretto shot has a volume of about 15 to 20 ml.
  • Starbucks offers ristretto-based drinks that use the same amount of ground coffee as an espresso shot but with less water, providing a more intense flavor experience in a smaller serving size.

How Many Shots Are in a Ristretto?

One ristretto shot is made using the same amount of coffee grounds as one espresso shot but extracted with about half the amount of water, making it more concentrated. Typically, a standard espresso shot is about 30 ml, while a ristretto shot is approximately 15-20 ml.

So, when you ask for a ristretto, you’re getting one shot, but it’s a shorter and more concentrated extraction compared to a regular espresso shot. If you want more volume, you’d ask for a double ristretto, which would use double the amount of coffee but still have the shorter extraction for each shot.

Ristretto Shot Volume

  • Typical Volume of a Ristretto Shot:
    • Measurement: A ristretto shot typically contains about 15-20ml of liquid, making it a shorter and more concentrated shot compared to a regular espresso.
    • Factors Affecting Volume: The exact volume can vary based on factors like the grind size of the coffee, the pressure of the espresso machine, and the specific preferences of the barista or drinker.

  • Comparison with the Volume of a Standard Espresso Shot:
    • Espresso Volume: A standard espresso shot usually contains about 25-30ml of liquid.
    • Concentration vs. Volume: While the ristretto has a smaller volume, it’s important to note that it’s not just a “half-shot” of espresso. The ristretto’s unique extraction process emphasizes different flavor compounds, resulting in a distinct taste profile.

  • Understanding the “Short” Nature of Ristretto:
    • Name Origin: The term “ristretto” comes from the Italian word for “restricted” or “limited,” referring to the limited amount of water used in its extraction.
    • Purpose: The reduced water volume is intentional, aiming to extract only the best flavors from the coffee grounds while leaving behind potential bitter compounds.

By understanding the volume of a ristretto shot in comparison to other espresso-based drinks, coffee enthusiasts can better appreciate the concentrated nature of this beloved beverage and the craftsmanship that goes into its preparation.

Extraction Process of a Ristretto

Delving into the ristretto’s extraction process reveals a meticulous blend of technique and precision. When crafting a ristretto, the amount of coffee grounds remains consistent with that of a standard espresso, hovering around 18-20 grams for a singular shot. These grounds are finely milled, akin to the texture of table salt, to guarantee the best possible extraction.

The hallmark of a ristretto is its limited water usage. In contrast to the 30ml typically used for a regular espresso, a ristretto only employs about 15-20ml. This restrained water quantity ensures a selective extraction, capturing the most flavorful compounds and yielding a richer, sweeter shot.

Timing is another essential aspect. While a standard espresso might take its time during extraction, a ristretto is quicker, often completed within 15 to 25 seconds, contingent on the equipment and granularity of the grind. This expedited process ensures that the more bitter elements, which require a longer extraction time, are minimized, giving the ristretto its signature bold yet smooth taste.

Consistency in pressure is vital, with most ristrettos requiring around 9 bars during extraction. The water’s temperature, usually set between 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C), is another key factor, optimized to draw out the coffee’s most aromatic and flavorful elements. This harmonious interplay of grounds, water, and time results in a coffee experience that stands distinct from the usual espresso shots.

Ristretto at Starbucks

Starbucks offers a variety of ristretto-based drinks and their standard ristretto shot is made with the same amount of ground coffee as an espresso shot but with less water.

How many shots are in a ristretto at Starbucks

A ristretto shot at Starbucks contains less hot water than a regular espresso shot. While a regular espresso shot is around 25 to 35 ml in volume, a ristretto shot is smaller, with a volume of about 15 to 20 ml.

Both types of shots use the same amount of ground coffee but differ in the amount of water used. Ordering a ristretto shot at Starbucks gives you a more concentrated and intense espresso experience in a smaller serving size.

Specialty ristretto-based drinks at Starbucks

Starbucks offers a variety of specialty drinks that are made with ristretto shots. These drinks have a unique and intense flavor profile due to the concentrated nature of ristretto. Here are some examples:

  1. Ristretto Latte: This drink is made with steamed milk and one or two ristretto shots. It has a rich and creamy texture, with a strong coffee taste.
  2. Ristretto Macchiato: In this drink, a ristretto shot is “stained” or topped with a small amount of foamed milk. It creates a layered look and adds a touch of sweetness to the strong espresso flavor.
  3. Ristretto Americano: Similar to an Americano, this drink combines ristretto shots with hot water. However, since ristretto shots are more concentrated, it results in a bolder and more full-bodied beverage.
  4. Ristretto Mocha: A delicious blend of ristretto shots, chocolate syrup, steamed milk, and whipped cream. It offers the perfect balance between the bitterness of coffee and the sweetness of chocolate.
  5. Iced Ristretto Drinks: Starbucks also serves iced versions of their ristretto-based beverages such as iced lattes or iced Americanos. They are refreshing options for those who prefer cold coffee drinks.


A ristretto shot is a small but powerful drink with a volume of 15 to 20 ml. It contains the same amount of ground coffee as an espresso shot, but less water is used, resulting in a more concentrated flavor.

Ordering a ristretto shot allows you to enjoy a shorter and intense espresso experience. So why not give it a try and see if you prefer this unique and flavorful option!


What is a ristretto?

A ristretto is a highly concentrated espresso. A barista makes it from fine grind coffee and prepares it as a restricted shot.

How many shots are in a ristretto?

In general, one shot of ristretto equals to half ounce serving of this highly concentrated coffee.

What sets apart the taste of an Italian ristretto?

An Italian Ristretto usually has a thin layer on top known as ‘crema’. The crema gives the drink its special caffeine kick!

How does a barista prepare for making the perfect ristretto?

The barista uses fine grind to prepare the espresso, which leads to creating its unique concentrated flavor.

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.