Latte vs Ristretto

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A person sitting at a table with a cup of coffee, choosing between latte and ristretto.
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A person sitting at a table with a cup of coffee, choosing between latte and ristretto.

Wondering what the difference is between a Latte and Ristretto? It’s quite surprising how both use espresso shots but taste uniquely different. In this article, we’ll solve your dilemma, diving into their origins, brewing process, flavor profiles, caffeine content and more to help you judge for yourself.

Ready to elevate your coffee knowledge? Read on!

Latte vs Ristretto

The difference between a Latte and a Ristretto revolves around their ingredients and flavor profiles. A Latte is primarily a milk-based drink, consisting of one or more shots of espresso and a larger proportion of steamed milk, often topped with a thin layer of foam.

It offers a creamy, mild coffee experience that leans heavily on the flavors of the milk.

Conversely, a Ristretto is an intensely flavored, concentrated shot of espresso, obtained by using less water during the extraction process. There’s no milk involved, making it a more direct and robust coffee experience.

The choice between a Latte and a Ristretto comes down to whether you’re in the mood for a creamier, more subdued coffee or a punchy, intense shot of caffeinated goodness.

Key Takeaways

  • A latte is made with espresso and steamed milk, while a ristretto is a shorter and more concentrated espresso shot.
  • Lattes have a creamy texture and rich flavor, while ristrettos are bolder and more intense in taste.
  • The brewing process for lattes involves a 1:1.5 coffee-to-milk ratio, whereas ristrettos use a 1:1 ratio.
  • Lattes typically have an extraction time of 25 to 30 seconds, while ristrettos only take around 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Lattes contain more caffeine than ristrettos, with an average of 63 – 175mg in a 12oz latte compared to roughly 63mg in a ristretto shot.


A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk, while a ristretto is a type of espresso shot that is shorter and more concentrated than a regular espresso shot.

Latte Definition

A latte is a type of coffee. It is made with espresso and steamed milk. The word “latte” comes from Italy and means “milk coffee.” In a latte, you often find more milk than coffee.

The mix is usually one part coffee to three parts milk. This makes the drink sweet. Some people make art on top of a latte with the milk foam. It’s fun to see what picture they can create!

Ristretto Definition

Ristretto is a type of coffee made with less water. The word “ristretto” comes from Italy. It means “restricted” or “condensed”. Ristretto has more coffee grounds and less water than other drinks like espresso.

This gives ristretto a bigger, sweeter flavor.

It does not take long to make ristretto. A short shot of this coffee takes less time than regular espresso. This makes the taste stronger and better for some people. So, if you want a bold and sweet drink, try ristretto!

Historical Origins

Latte Origins: The latte, also known as café latte, has its origins in Italy and is derived from the Italian caffè e latte, which translates to “coffee and milk.” It became popular in cafes in Milan and spread throughout Europe by the 20th century.

Ristretto Origins: Ristretto, on the other hand, originated in Italy as well. The term ristretto means “restricted” or “limited” in Italian. It refers to a shorter extraction time for the espresso shot, resulting in a smaller volume of coffee compared to a regular espresso shot.

Latte Origins

The latte came from Italy. The name “Cafe Latte” started in places where American tourists visited a lot. A mix of coffee and milk has a long past, but no one knows the exact start of the latte.

Latte art is an easy way to spot coffee lovers, but we do not know when it began. In Sydney, Australia, people loved the piccolo latte early on. The cappuccino is an old drink from Italy that people enjoy in the morning or as a snack in mid-morning.

Ristretto Origins

Ristretto has its origins in Italy and is deeply rooted in the history of espresso. The term “ristretto” originated in Italy, but it gained popularity in the US when David Schomer at Espresso Vivace in Seattle started using it.

Ristretto is a machine-brewed black coffee with a shorter extraction time of 12-15 seconds. It is a version of espresso brewed with less water but the same amount of ground coffee.

Ristretto bianco, on the other hand, is a variation made with steamed milk, similar to a latte.

Brewing Process

The brewing process for both latte and ristretto involves a specific water and coffee ratio, extraction time, and pressure and temperature.

Water and Coffee Ratio

In the coffee brewing process, the water and coffee ratio is crucial in determining the overall flavor and quality of the coffee drink.

Coffee TypeWater to Coffee RatioResulting Flavor and Quality
Latte1:1.5 (Common ratio for large milk drinks)Achieves a balance between the espresso and the milk, resulting in a creamy, smooth beverage with a medium-bodied texture.
Ristretto1:1 (Typical ratio)Generates a concentrated, intense flavor that is representative of the core essence of the coffee bean.
Espresso1:2 (Typical serving size of 30-35 mL)Creates a bold drink with pronounced flavors and a full body, served in smaller portions than a latte or a ristretto.
Golden Cup Standard55 g/liter (with a +/- 10% margin)This ratio is recommended by the Specialty Coffee Association for optimal flavors and high quality coffee.

Remember, these ratios are merely guidelines and can be adjusted to personal taste. Different brew methods may also require different coffee-to-water ratios.

Extraction Time

The extraction time is an essential part of the brewing process for both Latte and Ristretto. It significantly affects the flavor, aroma, and caffeine content of the coffee.

Extraction TimeEspresso shot for Latte typically has an extraction time of 25 to 30 seconds.Ristretto has a much shorter extraction time of only 15 to 20 seconds, half the time of a regular espresso.
Impact on FlavorA longer extraction time may contribute to a more bitter but flavorful taste in Lattes.In contrast, the short brewing time results in a sweeter and richer flavor in Ristrettos.
Adjusting Extraction TimeThe extraction time for a Latte can be adjusted, but it may alter the flavor profile of the coffee.Similarly, tweaking the brewing time for a Ristretto can also change its flavor.

Hence, it is crucial to understand and control the extraction time to brew a perfect cup of Latte or Ristretto.

Pressure and Temperature

The pressure and temperature involved in brewing both a latte and a ristretto play a crucial role in the final flavor of the drink. This is particularly true for ristretto, where a few degrees Fahrenheit can make a noticeable difference in taste.

PressureThe brewing process for a latte typically requires a pressure of 9 bars.Ristretto also requires the same pressure of 9 bars for brewing.
TemperatureThe ideal temperature for brewing a latte is between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.The optimal brewing temperature for ristretto is slightly lower, with the sweet spot being around 195 degrees Fahrenheit.

These precise specifications ensure the extraction process is just right, yielding a beverage with the perfect balance of flavors.

Flavor and Aroma Differences

The flavor and aroma of a latte are rich, creamy, and smooth. The ristretto, on the other hand, has a bold and intense flavor with a slightly sweeter aroma due to its concentrated nature.


A latte is a popular coffee drink made with a shot of espresso and steamed milk. It’s known for its creamy texture and rich flavor. The word “latte” actually comes from the Italian caffè latte, which means “milk coffee.” Lattes can be customized with different flavors like vanilla or caramel, and some people even add foam on top.

They can have both sweet and bitter flavors, depending on the type of espresso used in the drink. So if you’re looking for a delicious and satisfying coffee beverage, a latte might be just what you need!


Ristretto is a short shot of espresso that packs a powerful punch. It’s made by using less water and extracting the coffee for a shorter amount of time. This results in a concentrated flavor with bold profiles and intense crema.

Compared to regular espresso shots, ristretto has a stronger taste and aroma. The reduced water content gives it a more full-bodied texture that coffee enthusiasts love. If you’re looking for an intense caffeine kick and robust flavors, ristretto is the way to go.

So next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, consider trying out this small yet mighty drink!

Caffeine Content

The caffeine content in a latte varies depending on the size and coffee-to-milk ratio, with an average 12-ounce latte containing around 63-175 milligrams of caffeine.

On the other hand, a ristretto shot typically contains less caffeine than an espresso shot, making it a stronger and more concentrated option for those seeking a quick energy boost.

Latte Caffeine Content

A latte is a popular coffee drink that contains espresso shots and steamed milk. The caffeine content of a latte can vary depending on the size and number of espresso shots used. On average, a regular-sized latte made with one shot of espresso contains about 68-136mg of caffeine.

The actual caffeine content may differ from one coffee shop to another. If you prefer a stronger kick of caffeine, you can opt for an extra shot or order a larger size latte. Conversely, if you are sensitive to caffeine or want less, you can choose fewer shots or smaller serving sizes.

Ristretto Caffeine Content

Ristretto shots have a slightly lower caffeine content compared to normale shots of espresso, but they still pack quite a punch. On average, ristretto and espresso shots contain about the same amount of caffeine per shot, which is roughly 63 mg.

Because ristretto shots have a higher ratio of coffee to water during extraction, the caffeine content may be slightly lower than in regular espresso shots. It’s important to note that cappuccinos typically have a higher caffeine level than ristretto shots.

So if you’re looking for an extra kick of caffeine in your coffee drink, ristrettos are a great choice!

Uses in Popular Drinks

Latte is often used as a base for popular drinks such as cappuccino, macchiato, and latte macchiato, providing a creamy and smooth texture to balance the flavors of espresso.

Latte in Popular Drinks

Latte is a popular coffee drink because of its creamy and smooth taste. Here are some popular drinks that use latte:

  1. Cappuccino: Cappuccino is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam. It is similar to a latte but with less milk and more foam on top.
  2. Macchiato: A macchiato is made by adding a dollop of steamed milk to a shot of espresso. It has a stronger coffee flavor than a latte.
  3. Flat White: The flat white is another coffee drink that uses latte as its base. It consists of one or two shots of espresso mixed with steamed milk and a thin layer of microfoam on top.
  4. Latte Macchiato: This drink is the opposite of the macchiato. It is made by pouring a shot of espresso over steamed milk, creating layers of milk and coffee.
  5. Piccolo Latte: Similar to a macchiato, this drink combines a shot of espresso with warm, foamed milk in a small glass.

Ristretto in Popular Drinks

Ristretto is commonly used as the coffee base for many popular drinks. Here are some examples:

  1. Cappuccino: A cappuccino is made with equal parts of ristretto, steamed milk, and milk foam. The strong flavor of the ristretto adds depth to the creamy and frothy drink.
  2. Latte: A latte is made by combining ristretto with a larger amount of steamed milk. This creates a smooth and mellow beverage with a rich coffee taste.
  3. Macchiato: Ristretto macchiatos are similar to lattes but with less milk added. The ristretto shot is “marked” or “stained” with just a dollop of frothed milk on top.
  4. Flat White: In a flat white, ristretto is mixed with velvety steamed milk, resulting in a strong yet balanced espresso-based drink.
  5. Americano: For those who prefer a longer coffee, an americano can be made by adding hot water to ristretto shots. This dilutes the strength while still maintaining its robust flavor.
  6. Cafe au Lait: Ristretto shots can also be combined with brewed coffee and equal parts steamed milk for a traditional cafe au lait.
  7. Mocha: Ristretto shots can be used as the espresso component in mochas, adding a bold taste to the combination of chocolate and steamed milk.
  8. Breve: A breve consists of ristretto shots mixed with half-and-half instead of regular steamed milk, creating an indulgent and creamy espresso treat.

Choosing Between Latte and Ristretto

Consider your personal preferences and the appropriate occasion to determine whether you should go for a latte or ristretto.

Considering personal preferences

When it comes to choosing between a latte and a ristretto, personal preferences play a crucial role. Some people prefer the smooth and creamy taste of a latte, especially when combined with sweet syrups or flavors.

Those who enjoy bold and intense flavors may opt for the rich and concentrated taste of a ristretto. It ultimately depends on your taste buds and what kind of coffee experience you prefer.

Determine the appropriate occasion

To determine the appropriate occasion for choosing between a latte and ristretto, you should consider your personal preferences and taste. If you enjoy a bolder and more intense coffee flavor, then ristretto might be the right choice for you.

If you prefer a milder and creamier coffee experience, then a latte would be more suitable. It’s also important to think about the type of milk you prefer and how intense you want the flavor to be.

Whether it’s enjoying a strong cup of coffee in the morning or treating yourself to a creamy latte in the afternoon, keep your own tastes in mind when deciding which one is best for any particular occasion.


Choosing between a latte and ristretto depends on your personal preferences and the occasion. If you prefer a milder and creamier coffee drink, go for a latte. But if you want a stronger and more intense flavor, try a ristretto.

Both have their own unique qualities that cater to different coffee drinkers. So next time you’re at a café, consider trying one of these delicious options based on what you’re looking for in your coffee experience.


What is the difference between a latte and ristretto?

A latte has steamed milk and foam on top of the espresso, while ristretto uses less water with finely ground coffee beans to bring out different flavors.

How does a barista make a ristretto?

To make a ristretto, baristas use less water but more coffee in an espresso machine for extraction which also reduces any harsh taste.

Can I add milk to my Ristretto like I do with my Latte?

Yes, you could add some steamed milk to your Ristretto just like in Latte or Cappuccino production, it depends on the ratio of milk you prefer.

Is it true that lattes have more milk than other types of coffee drinks?

Yes, Lattes are made up from added layers of steamed-milk and foam on top of the espresso base which gives them their distinct flavor compared to other espresso based drinks.

What’s the best way to enjoy these different kinds of coffees?

Enjoying these coffees will depend upon your personal liking; if you love strong flavors then give Ristretto a try else if creamy texture is your thing go for Lattes!

Does using double shot change any taste profiles in latte or Ristretto?

Sure! A double shot simply means doubling-up on amount-of-coffee grounds used; so yes – this can alter both strength as well as flavour depending-on whether applied within making either Latte or Ristratto.

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.