Lungo (Long Shot) vs Ristretto

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Two cups of Lungo and Ristretto coffee with steam coming out of them.
Table of Contents
Two cups of Lungo and Ristretto coffee with steam coming out of them.

Ever been baffled by the barista’s lingo at your local coffee shop? Understanding the difference between a lungo (long shot) and a ristretto can dramatically alter your coffee experience.

This post is set to shed light on these two unique espresso variations, from their origins and brewing process to their taste profiles and caffeine content. Gear up for an informative deep dive into the world of espresso that’ll turn you from confused customer to confident connoisseur!

Lungo Long Shot vs Ristretto

The difference between a Lungo Long Shot and a Ristretto is in their extraction times and resulting flavor concentrations. A Lungo, or long shot, is an espresso pulled with more water than usual, extending the extraction time to create a larger volume of coffee.

The flavor is less concentrated than a standard espresso, resulting in a more diluted taste that can reveal different nuances of the coffee bean.

In stark contrast, a Ristretto is an espresso shot pulled with less water and a shorter extraction time, yielding a much more concentrated and intense flavor.

When choosing between a Lungo and a Ristretto, consider whether you’re in the mood for a nuanced, extended coffee experience or a short, powerful burst of concentrated flavor.

Key Takeaways

  • Lungo is a type of espresso shot that uses more water, resulting in a milder and less strong taste compared to regular espresso.
  • Ristretto, on the other hand, is an intense and strong coffee drink made with less water than normal espresso shots.
  • Lungo has a longer extraction time and higher caffeine content than ristretto. However, ristretto contains more caffeine per milliliter due to its concentrated nature.
  • Lungo is commonly used as the base for popular drinks like Americanos and lattes, while ristretto is preferred for stronger beverages like macchiatos and cortados.


Lungo, also known as a long shot, is an espresso shot made with more water than usual. Ristretto, on the other hand, is an espresso shot made with less water than normal.

Lungo Definition

A lungo is a kind of espresso. It uses more water than a normal shot. This makes it less strong. The brewing time is also longer, between 25 to 30 seconds. Because of this, the taste can be bitter and might leave a sour feeling in your mouth after you drink it.

You can enjoy lungo on its own or use it as the base for other coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.

Ristretto Definition

Ristretto is a very strong coffee drink. To make ristretto, use half the amount of water but keep the same amount of ground coffee as a regular espresso shot. This makes a drink that has an intense flavor, like a real kick! Ristretto means “limited” in Italian.

The word tells us that it’s a short shot of espresso with less water and time to brew than other types. So, when you sip this small yet powerful cup of coffee, expect a strong taste unlike any other!

Historical Origins

The origins of Lungo can be traced back to Italy, where it was first brewed in the early 20th century. Ristretto, on the other hand, has its roots in traditional Italian espresso culture and dates back even further.

Lungo Origins

Lungo is a type of coffee drink that came from Italy. Italians love their coffee and they are always trying out new ways to enjoy it. This is how the long shot espresso or Lungo started.

They used more water than normal in an espresso machine to make this kind of brew. That’s why, today, you will find Lungo in most Italian cafes and households.

Ristretto Origins

Ristretto, a type of espresso shot, originated in Italy and has become popular around the world. In Italian, “ristretto” means “restricted,” which refers to the limited amount of water used during extraction.

Ristretto is believed to have first gained popularity in the United States in the early 1980s. It is a concentrated and intense coffee drink that offers a different flavor profile compared to regular espresso.

The brewing process for ristretto requires a shorter extraction time than traditional espresso, resulting in a smaller but more flavorful shot of coffee.

Brewing Process

The brewing process for Lungo and Ristretto coffee shots involves carefully controlling the ratio of water to coffee, extraction time, pressure, and temperature.

Water and Coffee Ratio

In a regular espresso, the ratio of coffee grounds to water is 1:2. But when it comes to ristretto, the ratio changes to 1:1. This means that in a ristretto shot, there is less water used compared to a regular espresso shot.

For a lungo (or long shot), the recommended ratio is around 1:3-3.5, which means double the amount of water compared to a regular espresso shot. So if you prefer a more concentrated and intense coffee flavor, go for ristretto with its equal parts coffee and water ratio.

But if you want something milder and less strong, try out a lungo with its higher amount of water per coffee grounds ratio.

Extraction Time

Ristretto has a shorter extraction time compared to lungo. A long shot (lungo) can have an extraction time of up to 60 seconds, while ristretto uses less water and therefore has a shorter extraction time.

This means that the flavors of lungo are more diluted due to the longer extraction time and the extra amount of water used, while ristretto is generally considered stronger and more intense in flavor due to its shorter extraction time and concentrated flavors.

Pressure and Temperature

In the brewing process of lungo and ristretto, pressure and temperature play a crucial role in extracting the flavor from the coffee grounds. The espresso machine applies high pressure to push hot water through finely ground coffee, resulting in a concentrated shot of espresso.

For lungo, the pressure is typically lower than standard espresso, allowing more water to pass through the coffee bed. This results in a longer extraction time and a milder flavor.

Ristretto is made with higher pressure and shorter extraction time, producing a smaller amount of intense coffee with less bitterness. The temperature for both lungo and ristretto is usually around 195°F (90°C) to 205°F (96°C), ensuring optimal extraction without burning or under-extracting the coffee beans.

Flavor and Aroma Differences

Lungo: A lungo shot has a milder flavor with notes of bitterness and less acidity, which is perfect for those who prefer a smoother coffee taste. The aroma is also less intense compared to other espresso variations.

Ristretto: Ristretto offers a more intense flavor and aroma. It has a bolder taste with strong notes of sweetness and acidity, making it the preferred choice for coffee lovers who enjoy a rich and robust espresso experience.


A lungo is a type of long shot or long espresso that uses more water than a regular espresso shot. This results in a larger volume of coffee and a longer extraction time. The flavors and aroma of a lungo are often more diluted compared to a ristretto, with some describing it as smoky and roasted.

Lungos have a higher caffeine content per cup compared to ristrettos due to the larger amount of coffee used. However, the longer extraction time can also lead to more bitter and less desirable flavors in the coffee.

So, if you prefer a milder taste and stronger caffeine kick, lungo might be your go-to choice!


Ristretto is a type of espresso shot that is made with less water and has a shorter extraction time compared to a long shot. This results in a more concentrated and intense flavor.

Ristretto shots are known for their bold, robust taste with minimal bitterness. They often have higher acidity and exhibit fruity flavors. If you’re someone who enjoys strong coffee with a powerful kick, ristretto shots are perfect for you.

Their concentrated nature makes them popular among coffee aficionados seeking an intense caffeine boost and flavorful experience. So, next time you’re at the coffee shop, don’t hesitate to try a ristretto shot if you want something extra bold and full-bodied!

Caffeine Content

Lungo shot has a higher caffeine content compared to a ristretto shot.

Lungo Caffeine Content

Lungo (long shot) is a type of coffee that contains more caffeine compared to ristretto. In fact, long shots may have slightly more caffeine than regular espresso too. However, it’s important to note that lungo still offers less caffeine content per milliliter than both ristretto and regular espresso.

So if you’re looking for a strong kick of caffeine, lungo might be the way to go. Just keep in mind that lungo coffee tends to taste more bitter due to its higher caffeine content.

So if you prefer a milder flavor, you might want to opt for ristretto instead.

Ristretto Caffeine Content

ristretto shot has a higher caffeine content compared to a long shot or lungo. Despite its small size, the concentrated flavor of a ristretto comes with more caffeine because it uses less water than other espresso shots.

The shorter extraction time also plays a role in reducing the caffeine content of a ristretto compared to regular espressos. However, it’s important to note that even though a ristretto has more caffeine than a lungo, it still contains less caffeine overall.

So if you’re looking for an intense coffee boost without as much volume, the ristretto might be your go-to choice.

Uses in Popular Drinks

Lungo is commonly used in popular drinks such as Americanos, while ristretto is preferred for stronger espresso-based beverages like macchiatos and cortados.

Lungo in Popular Drinks

Lungo shots are commonly used in popular coffee drinks. They provide a different flavor and intensity compared to other espresso variations. Here are some examples of popular drinks that include lungo shots:

  1. Americano: A classic drink made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso. Lungo shots are often used to create the base for an Americano, resulting in a milder and smoother flavor compared to using a regular espresso shot.
  2. Latte: A popular milk-based drink consisting of steamed milk and espresso. Lungo shots can be used in lattes to add more depth and complexity to the overall flavor profile.
  3. Macchiato: This drink features a shot of espresso “marked” with a small amount of frothed milk on top. Lungo shots can be used as the base, providing a stronger coffee flavor that pairs well with the hint of milk.
  4. Cappuccino: Made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk, cappuccinos can benefit from lungo shots for those who prefer a bolder coffee taste.
  5. Mocha: A delightful combination of chocolate and coffee, mochas often incorporate lungo shots for a rich and intense coffee flavor that complements the sweetness of the chocolate.

Ristretto in Popular Drinks

Ristretto is a type of espresso shot that is used in various popular coffee drinks. It has a sweeter and stronger taste compared to long shots or regular espresso. Here are some popular drinks that use ristretto:

  • Macchiato: A macchiato is made with a shot of ristretto, which adds a bold and intense flavor to the drink.
  • Cortado: In a cortado, ristretto is mixed with an equal amount of steamed milk, creating a balanced and creamy beverage.
  • Flat White: Ristretto is often used as the base for a flat white, providing a rich and concentrated coffee flavor.
  • Espresso Con Panna: This indulgent drink features ristretto topped with a dollop of whipped cream, creating a delightful contrast between the strong coffee and the smooth creaminess.
  • Mocha: Ristretto can be added to mochas for an extra kick of flavor. The combination of chocolate and coffee creates a deliciously decadent drink.

Choosing Between Lungo and Ristretto

When it comes to choosing between Lungo and Ristretto, consider your personal preferences and the appropriate occasion for each drink.

Considering personal preferences

When choosing between lungo and ristretto, your personal preferences play a significant role. It ultimately comes down to what you enjoy in terms of taste and flavor. If you prefer a bolder and stronger coffee experience, ristretto may be the better choice for you.

It has a more concentrated flavor profile that is full-bodied and robust. On the other hand, if you prefer a milder and smoother coffee with less intensity, lungo would be more suitable.

Lungo shots are diluted with more water, resulting in a mellower flavor. Additionally, if you’re someone who prefers less caffeine in their coffee, lungo has lower caffeine content compared to ristretto.

So consider your taste preferences and desired strength when making your decision between these two espresso variations.

Determine the appropriate occasion

Choosing between lungo and ristretto can depend on the occasion. If you’re looking for a strong and intense coffee flavor, ristretto might be your go-to choice. Its concentrated nature makes it perfect for enjoying after a meal or as a standalone indulgence.

On the other hand, if you prefer a milder and more balanced cup of coffee, lungo can be a great option. Its longer brewing time allows for more extraction, resulting in a smoother taste that pairs well with breakfast or afternoon treats.

Consider what flavor profile would best complement the occasion when deciding between these two espresso shots.


Choosing between a lungo (long shot) and a ristretto comes down to personal preference. If you enjoy a milder taste with more water, go for the lungo. But if you prefer a concentrated and strong flavor, opt for the ristretto.

Consider the occasion and your coffee preferences to make the perfect choice every time. Happy brewing!


What is the difference between Lungo and Ristretto?

Lungo, also known as a long shot, uses more water for brewing compared to an espresso or ristretto. This makes it a less intense coffee drink.

How do I make a Ristretto?

Making espresso-based drinks like ristretto involves using an espresso maker. It requires pressing water through the coffee grinds at high pressure but for less time than making regular espresso.

Which one has more flavor, Espresso or Lungo?

Coffee fans often prefer the concentrated and flavorful taste of an Espresso shot over lungo because of its shorter contact with the water during brewing.

Can I use any type of coffee beans to make Lungo or Ristretto shots?

Yes! However, different coffee types such as single-shot of espresso or double shot can alter the flavor profile and concentration of your favorite specialty coffee beverage.

Is Ristretto stronger than lungo?

Ristretto tends to be stronger in terms of flavor compared to a long shot although both use similar grams of roasted coffee beans and depend on good extraction from your coffee maker.

Should I choose Ristretto over other Espresso Drinks?

Taste depends on personal preference; if you enjoy intensely aromatic brews you may choose ristretto while those seeking less concentrated yet equally rich flavors might go for lungos.

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.