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When going to your favorite coffee shops, it can be intimidating to be expected to know what to order almost instantly. With so many options, how are you to know what you like? If you’re somebody plagued by such fears, worry not. 

At Bon Vivant Caffè, we believe in making coffee easy for everybody, and today we’ll be breaking down two famous drinks: the Ristretto and the Long Shot.

Read on and discover what makes these drinks so different and which one you should order. 

Ristretto— The Stronger and Smaller Portion

Ristretto in a glass cup

Ristretto vs long shot (lungo)

The word Ristretto means “Restricted” in Italian and hints at this drink’s strong nature. A ristretto shot is extracted using very little water and very finely ground coffee, making it extremely concentrated. 

A ristretto is also called a “short shot” because of its small size and the powerful punch it packs. Today, you’ll find a ristretto in almost all coffee shops, which hints at the true popularity of the drink. 

Long Shot—The Larger and Milder Shot

Long shot (Lungo)

ristretto vs long shot

A long shot, or lungo as often called, is almost similar to an espresso shot, except it is extracted with twice as much water. This makes a long shot very diluted and increases its quantity too. 

Long shots may not be as strong as an espresso or ristretto shot, but they are still just as flavorful. The shot is a favorite for people that want that signature coffee flavor but without the strength an espresso shot packs. 

Ristretto Vs. Long Shot 


When we discuss the Ristretto vs. Lungo debate, we must first talk about their origins. The Ristretto was born in Italy, the birthplace of some of the most iconic coffee drinks, some of which, like the espresso and cappuccino, have become commonplace today. 

If the Ristretto was born in Italy, how and when did it come to the US and become a stable part of coffee shops nationwide? The drink first came to Seattle through the efforts of David Schomer, who introduced it to his coffee shop, Caffe Vivace. From there, it spread over the country and took very little time to get popular. 

The Long Shot to comes from Italy, and it too came to the US and other parts of the world slowly. This coffee drink was insanely popular for a while, but over the years, the trends have shifted to the ristretto and other small shots of coffee. These shots are not only small but also strong, making them easy to drink, and allowing you to get your required caffeine intake without having to chug down a large cup. 

Brewing Method

The point of difference in the Ristretto vs Long Shot debate is the brewing method. Both types of coffee are extracted in the same manner as an espresso—by having water pushed through the grounds at high pressure—but the grind size of the coffee and the quantity of the water make them different. 

The Ristretto uses very finely ground coffee and uses about half the amount of water as an espresso shot. An espresso shot uses about 18-20 g of water, so a ristretto is usually extracted using about 9-10 g. The water is pushed very fast and at a high pressure, which makes the shot very strong. 

On the other hand, a lungo uses about twice the amount of water as an espresso. Where an espresso shot has 18-20 g of water, a lungo has about 45-50 g of water. People normally confuse this coffee with a double shot of espresso, but they’re not the same. 

In a double shot of espresso, the barista increases the quantity of the coffee grounds to 14 g and extracts the shot using 60 ml of water. Even though the amount of water is similar, the amount of coffee used isn’t. 

A double shot of espresso uses more coffee and water, whereas a Long Shot uses the same amount of coffee as an espresso shot but with two times more water. This means a double shot of espresso is far stronger and richer than a long shot. 

Size and Construction

A Ristretto shot is very small, so most baristas and coffee shops only sell double shots of Ristrettos. Even if you order a single shot, the barista would most likely pull a double shot, and halve it for you. 

A long shot, or lungo, is normally sold as a single because of its massive size. Both coffees can be served by themselves, though they are mostly served topped with milk to form a creamy drink. The final drink is almost like a latte, except instead of an espresso shot, a ristretto or long shot is used. 

Most coffee shops have predetermined the volume of their shots but you can choose the size of the final drink in some places. Depending on what you choose, your barista will then add the amount of milk required. 

This isn’t possible in most coffee shops though. Most coffee shops have a standard size for every drink, and the only choice you have is the type and the number of shots you want. 

So, what’s your favorite? Ristretto or Long Shot?

Our part in the Ristretto vs. Long Shot debate is finally over. The Ristretto and Long Shot are very similar yet very different from espresso. They are both famous, but the Ristretto is the more popular. Most people prefer the Ristretto because of its strength and size, while the Lungo is often called a watered-down version of the espresso. 

However, don’t let anyone choose your drink for you. Instead, let your tastebuds decide. If strong drinks are your thing, the Ristretto is the drink for you, but if you like something mild, the long shot may be what you need. Either way, both drinks are easily available, and you can try them out. 

Sahar Zehra
I was 10 when I took my first sip of coffee, and a freshly brewed cup has become a constant companion. Through my work, I aim to explore coffee's history, tradition, and culture and discuss the best ways to make the perfect cup. You can find me sipping a cup of the brew with a book in hand when I'm not writing.
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