Is a Long Black With Espresso or Ristretto?

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A cup of coffee with cinnamon sticks and coffee beans is a Long Black With Espresso.
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A cup of coffee with cinnamon sticks and coffee beans is a Long Black With Espresso.


Are you a coffee lover, yet confused about the difference between a long black, espresso, and ristretto? Well, factually speaking, a long black is an espresso-based drink that’s hugely popular in Australia and New Zealand.

This blog will clarify all your doubts by explaining the unique characteristics of these types of coffees and discussing their brewing techniques. Let’s unravel this complex world of caffeine together!

Key Takeaways

  • A long black is an espresso-based drink popular in Australia and New Zealand, made by pouring a single or double shot of ristretto into hot water.
  • An espresso shot is a concentrated burst of flavor that forms the base for many coffee drinks, created by forcing hot water through tightly packed coffee grounds at high pressure.
  • A ristretto is a shorter and sweeter version of an espresso shot, with bolder flavors due to less hot water used during brewing. It contains similar caffeine levels as an espresso shot.

Is a Long Black With Espresso or Ristretto?

A Long Black is traditionally made using espresso. It’s a coffee preparation method popular in Australia and New Zealand, where a double shot of espresso is poured over hot water.

While the standard preparation uses espresso, ristretto, a shorter and more concentrated shot, can be used as an alternative, though it’s not customary. If ordering a Long Black in a café, it’s typically made with espresso unless specified otherwise.

Understanding the Difference Between a Long Black, Espresso, and Ristretto

Each coffee type has its own unique characteristics that contribute to a distinct flavor profile. The long black is known for its balance of strength and rich flavors, while the espresso shot is concentrated and intense.

On the other hand, the ristretto offers a bolder taste with a shorter extraction time.

The characteristics of a long black coffee

A long black coffee uses espresso and hot water. It comes from New Zealand and Australia. The double shot of ristretto in it is shorter than a regular espresso shot, but sweeter. You pour the single or double ristretto into hot water to make it.

This gives it its unique flavor. Even though it’s strong, it doesn’t have more caffeine than an espresso shot would.

The essence of an espresso shot

An espresso shot is the heart and soul of many coffee drinks. It’s a small but powerful burst of flavor that forms the base for lattes, cappuccinos, and more. Made by forcing hot water through tightly packed coffee grounds at high pressure, an espresso shot is known for its bold taste and rich aroma.

It has a strong caffeine kick too, perfect for those who need a morning pick-me-up or an afternoon boost. Despite its potency, an espresso shot doesn’t have to be bitter or overpowering.

Skilled baristas can create a well-balanced shot with notes of chocolate, caramel, and even fruitiness depending on the blend of coffee used. With just a sip of this concentrated elixir, you can savor the true essence of coffee in all its glory.

Exploring the flavors of a ristretto

A ristretto is a shorter and sweeter version of an espresso shot. It has a bolder flavor profile compared to a regular espresso shot because it uses less hot water during the brewing process.

The reduced extraction time gives the ristretto intense flavors with less bitterness. Despite being stronger, a ristretto does not contain significantly more caffeine than a regular espresso shot.

So if you prefer your coffee bold and full-bodied, exploring the flavors of a ristretto might be just what you’re looking for.

Brewing Techniques and Ratios for a Long Black

To achieve the perfect long black, it is crucial to maintain the ideal water-to-espresso ratio and utilize the right brewing method.

The importance of water-to-espresso ratio

The water-to-espresso ratio is crucial in brewing a perfect long black. Getting the right balance ensures that you achieve the desired flavors and strength in your coffee. Too much water can result in a weak and diluted taste, while too little water can make it overly strong and bitter.

The ideal ratio is typically one part espresso to two parts hot water, but this can vary depending on personal preference. Experimenting with different ratios allows you to customize your long black to suit your taste buds.

Remember, finding the right water-to-espresso ratio is key for creating a well-balanced and enjoyable cup of coffee.

The ideal brewing method for a long black

To make the perfect long black coffee, follow these ideal brewing methods:

  1. Start by preheating your cup or mug with hot water.
  2. Grind fresh espresso beans to a medium-fine consistency.
  3. Tamp the ground coffee firmly into the portafilter, creating an even surface.
  4. Set your espresso machine to a temperature between 195-205°F (90-96°C).
  5. Extract a double shot of espresso using a ristretto technique, resulting in a shorter extraction time.
  6. Meanwhile, heat water to around 160-170°F (71-77°C) using a kettle or other heat source.
  7. Pour the extracted double ristretto shot into your preheated cup or mug.
  8. Slowly and steadily pour the hot water over the espresso, filling it up but leaving room for customization.
  9. You can adjust the amount of hot water based on personal taste preferences for strength and flavor.
  10. Stir gently to ensure proper blending of flavors.
  11. Sip and savor your long black coffee!

Comparing Long Black, Espresso, and Ristretto in Taste and Strength

Long black coffee offers a bold and intense flavor, similar to an espresso shot but with a larger volume of hot water, while ristretto impresses with its concentrated flavors in a smaller serving size.

Flavor profiles and intensity of each coffee type

The flavor and intensity of coffee vary significantly depending on whether you are drinking a long black, an espresso, or a ristretto. To help you distinguish between these different coffee types, we have put together a quick reference chart illustrating their flavor profiles and strength.

Coffee TypeFlavor ProfileIntensity
Long BlackFeaturing a strong, full-bodied flavor, long black also presents a recognizable acidity due to the shot of ristretto. It also has an aftertaste that lingers, making it a favorite for those who love a robust coffee drinking experience.High. A long black is made using a double shot of ristretto, which gives it a stronger, more intense coffee flavor.
EspressoEspresso has a rich and bold flavor, with notes of caramel and chocolate. It’s often described as having a creamy body with a sweet aftertaste.Moderate to High. While espresso is concentrated, the intensity can vary based on the variety of beans used and the brewing technique.
RistrettoCompared to a traditional espresso, a ristretto is sweeter and more concentrated. It’s often described as having flavors of rich chocolate with a hint of fruitiness.High. Ristretto is a concentrated shot of coffee, resulting in a strong and intense flavor.

These flavor profiles and intensities are not set in stone; they can be adjusted according to personal preferences and brewing methods. For instance, using less hot water in a long black or ristretto will intensify the flavors, while adding more water will mellow them down. Therefore, the best way to find your perfect cup of coffee is to experiment with different ratios and methods.

Which coffee suits your preferences?

Consider your taste preferences when deciding which coffee suits you best. If you enjoy a strong and bold flavor, a long black or an espresso might be the right choice for you. The long black has a rich taste due to the double ristretto shot used in its preparation.

If you prefer a milder flavor with more volume, an Americano could be your go-to coffee option as it contains more hot water than both the long black and espresso.

It all comes down to personal preference and what kind of flavors you savor in your coffee experience.


A long black is a delicious coffee beverage made with espresso and hot water. It offers a unique flavor profile that is different from both an espresso shot and a ristretto.

Whether you prefer the boldness of an espresso or the sweeter taste of a ristretto, the long black provides a satisfying option for coffee lovers. So next time you’re at your favorite coffeehouse, give it a try and savor the rich blend of flavors in this popular Australian and New Zealand drink.


Is a long black coffee made with espresso or ristretto?

A long black is usually made with a lungo, or ‘long shot’ of espresso. It provides the depth of flavor like an espresso but it’s not as strong.

Can you make a long black using ristretto instead of espresso?

Yes! Using a short black or ristretto in place of regular espresso will result in a slightly stronger and more savored beverage.

Does milk play any role in making a long black drink?

No, milk doesn’t play any part in brewing long blacks as they aren’t milk-based espresso drinks. However, some people might add milk to suit their taste.

What happens when water passes through the coffee blend for too long when making a Long Black?

When water passes through your chosen coffee blend for too long, it can over-extract the flavors leading to bitterness ruining the taste; So time management is key while at home or at a coffeehouse.

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.