Is Ristretto a Double Espresso?

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A bartender pouring a double espresso into a glass.
Table of Contents
A bartender pouring a double espresso into a glass.


The world of coffee is filled with diverse brewing techniques, one of which involves making what’s known as a ristretto – a condensed and potent version of an ordinary espresso that uses less water but packs more flavor.

This article will guide you through the intricate differences between these two popular espresso shots, demystify common misconceptions about them and help to refine your coffee knowledge like never before.

Get ready for an enriching journey into the heart of your favorite morning pick-me-up!

Key Takeaways

  • Ristretto and double espresso are two different types of coffee drinks.
  • Ristretto is a smaller, more concentrated version of an espresso that uses less water and coffee.
  • Ristrettos have a darker and more intense flavor compared to double espressos.
  • While both ristretto and double espresso contain caffeine, ristretto shots can be more potent due to their higher concentration.

Is Ristretto a Double Espresso?

No, a ristretto is not a double espresso. While both are espresso-based drinks, they differ in their extraction process and resulting flavor profiles.

While both ristretto and double espresso are derived from the espresso family, they are distinct in terms of extraction, volume, and flavor. A ristretto is a concentrated, shorter shot, while a double espresso is essentially two standard espresso shots combined.

Volume and Concentration of Ristretto and Double Espresso

When diving into the world of espresso, the distinctions between volume and concentration play a significant role in differentiating drinks. For the ristretto, its hallmark is its limited volume.

Typically, a ristretto contains about 15-20ml of liquid, which is a result of using less water during the extraction process. This limited volume, combined with the standard amount of coffee grounds, leads to a more concentrated and intense flavor profile.

A double-espresso, as the name suggests, is essentially two shots of espresso combined. This means it usually contains around 50-60ml of liquid, making it significantly larger in volume than a ristretto.

Despite its larger volume, a double-espresso doesn’t necessarily mean double the concentration. It’s essentially like having two standard espressos in one serving, maintaining a balanced flavor profile that’s consistent with a single shot of espresso.

While both drinks offer a rich coffee experience, the ristretto stands out for its concentrated intensity in a small volume, whereas the double-espresso delivers a more extended coffee pleasure with a consistent and familiar taste.

Comparing Ristretto and Double Espresso

Ristretto and double espresso differ in terms of volume, strength, taste, aroma, and caffeine content.

Differences in volume and strength

A ristretto and a double espresso have differences in volume and strength. A ristretto is a shorter version of an espresso, so it contains less water and coffee compared to a double espresso.

This makes the ristretto shot smaller in size but also more concentrated in flavor. The reduced amount of water used for a ristretto means that the flavors are intensified, resulting in a darker and more intense taste compared to a double espresso shot.

So, if you prefer a bolder and stronger coffee experience, the ristretto might be your go-to choice!

Differences in taste and aroma

A ristretto has a stronger and more intense taste compared to an espresso. This is because the smaller amount of water used in a ristretto extracts the coffee’s flavors and aromatic compounds more intensely.

The result is a rich, concentrated shot with a bold flavor profile. In terms of aroma, ristrettos also tend to have a more pronounced and fragrant smell due to the higher concentration of coffee oils released during the extraction process.

So if you enjoy a bolder and more aromatic cup of coffee, ristretto might be your preferred choice.

Caffeine content comparison

When it comes to caffeine content, both ristretto and espresso shots can pack a punch. The exact content can vary significantly based on the specific blend and preparation process used, but in general, a ristretto shot is more concentrated due to using less water.

Coffee TypeTypical Caffeine Content
RistrettoMore concentrated due to less water use, hence higher caffeine content per volume.
EspressoGreater volume generally, but less concentrated caffeine level due to more water use.

Remember that for a double ristretto, two separate shots are pulled which also affects the caffeine content. A double ristretto typically contains less water and coffee than a double espresso but has a higher concentration of caffeine per volume due to its brewing method.

Common Misconceptions

In the vast realm of coffee, misconceptions abound, and the distinctions between a ristretto and a double-espresso are no exception. One prevailing myth is that a ristretto is simply a “shortened” double-espresso.

While it’s true that a ristretto is a shorter extraction, it’s not merely a truncated version of its espresso counterpart. The ristretto’s unique extraction process emphasizes different flavor compounds, leading to its distinct taste profile.

Another common misunderstanding is equating volume with strength. Some believe that because a double-espresso has a larger volume, it must be twice as strong or concentrated as a single espresso or ristretto. In reality, a double-espresso is akin to having two standard espressos, without a significant increase in concentration.

Lastly, there’s the notion that ristrettos and double-espressos have vastly different caffeine contents. While there might be slight variations due to extraction differences, the caffeine difference is not as pronounced as one might think.

By addressing and clarifying these misconceptions, coffee enthusiasts can better appreciate the unique characteristics of each drink and make informed choices based on their preferences.


In conclusion, ristretto and double espresso are not the same thing. While they both use coffee beans and extraction methods similar to espresso, ristretto is a smaller drink with less water and coffee compared to a double espresso.

Ristretto offers a darker and more intense flavor profile, making it a unique option for coffee enthusiasts seeking a concentrated variation of their favorite brew.


What is a ristretto in a cafe?

A ristretto is a type of coffee served at cafes. It’s made using less water but the same dose of coffee as an espresso.

Is ristretto the same as double espresso?

No, they are different. Ristretto uses a similar dose of coffee like an espresso but with much less water making it stronger.

How does roasting affect the taste of ristretto?

The roasting process can change how your ristretto tastes. Darker roasts tend to bring out rich, bold flavors compared to lighter ones that retain fruity and acidic notes.

Can I get a long shot in place of my usual ristretto at the coffeehouse?

Yes, you can! A long shot or ‘lungo’ uses more water than both espresso and ristretto for a milder flavor.

About the Author:
Oliver Bennett, a seasoned barista, focuses on the technical aspects of coffee-making. His journey from local cafes to specialty coffee shops has equipped him with skills in the science of coffee, from grind size to latte art. Oliver's articles and how-to videos delve into brewing techniques and coffee science, fostering a community of home baristas and elevating the home coffee experience.