The Art of Brewing the Best Italian Ristretto: Master the Perfect Espresso Roast and Extra Fine Grind

Are you tired of mediocre coffee that fails to deliver that perfect kick-start to your day? Look no further! Discover the secret to the best coffee ristretto, a rich Italian delight that will elevate your caffeine experience to new heights. In this article, we will delve into the world of ristretto, exploring the perfect coffee beans, the ideal roast, and the essential steps to achieve that exquisite taste. Prepare to indulge your senses and unlock the true potential of your morning brew. Get ready for a journey that will forever change your perception of coffee. Let's dive in!


Dorian Bodnariuc

A ristretto is a short shot of espresso that can be made in two ways: by restricting the extraction time, or by restricting the extraction flow. The result is a sweeter drink with a more intense flavor.

  • Use 7 grams of medium-dark roast coffee beans, or up to 9 grams depending on the filter basket
  • Use filtered or spring water
  • Grind 7-9 grams of coffee beans to an espresso grind size. The grind size should be slightly finer than what you would use for your normal espresso.
  • Place the coffee grounds in the filter-basket.
  • Gently tap the portafilter on the counter to pack and level them. If you have an espresso leveler, use it to perfectly level your coffee puck.
  • Tamp the coffee grounds with a considerable amount of pressure. When you are done tamping, there should be about 3-4 mm from the basket's edge to the coffee puck.
  • Lock the portafilter in the espresso machine, and switch the brew button ON.
  • Pull your shot for about 15 to 18 seconds.
  • You should get about 0.5 to 0.8 fluid ounces of espresso. If you get considerably more than that, grind your coffee finer. If you get too little coffee, grind your coffee slightly coarser.

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The coffee to use: espresso roast

Start with an espresso roast coffee for a ristretto: the roast is important to get the right dark, bitter flavor to an espresso shot. Some espresso coffee brands we recommend are Illy, Starbucks, or Intelligentsia.

Sweet Coffee Beans for Best Italian Ristretto

For naturally sweet Italian ristretto, we recommend using a naturally sweet coffee bean blend with a mix of top-grade Arabica and Robusta beans from mountain plantations in larger origin countries.

At Peak Flavor Coffee, we apply Italian coffee roasting with extended caramelization and custom grind fresh roasted coffee beans to an extra-extra fine grind for ristretto.

Italian ristretto roasting is darker

It pays off to roast a little darker for ristretto than for espresso. Darker roasting makes coffee beans more brittle and porous, which is helpful when you want to extract more flavor with less water. When you aim to make an authentic Italian ristretto with your espresso machine, you are using less water and need brittle and porous coffee grinds to dissolve and extract as much flavor as possible.

A darker roast for ristretto also helps to dissolve and extract the natural sugars present in the coffee bean blend. At Peak Flavor coffee we not only use naturally sweeter coffee beans, but we also extend the Italian coffee roast to ensure that enough caramel notes can be dissolved and extracted even when using less water during brewing.

An Extra Extra Fine Coffee Grind for Best Italian Ristretto

When you want your espresso machine to automatically make a perfect Italian ristretto, all you need to do is grind a little finer than for espresso.

At Peak Flavor we custom grind, specifically for Italian ristretto, so that your espresso machine can extract naturally sweet ristretto with ease. Our fineness represents a 3 (out of 20) on the Guatemala burr grinding scale. The result is a naturally sweet but extra strong authentic Italian ristretto that wows the senses!

Discover Italian Ristretto

Step 1: Grinding the Coffee

A lot of coffee shops use a combination of both Arabica and Robusta beans, but you could choose either for your ristretto coffee beans. We would suggest you try our Bettadakhan Estate blend. It is 100% sun-dried Arabica coffee with intense notes of dark chocolate, macadamia nuts, and brown sugar. The coffee you use should be a fine grind of about 7-10 grams, the amount you would use for a shot of espresso. Grind it directly into your portafilter.

Step 2: Settling, Leveling, and Tamping

Now that you are done with the grinding, use your fingers to level any excess coffee there is, and gently tap the filter on the counter a few times to settle the fresh grounds. Keep these grounds in the portafilter as level as possible when tamping to make sure that water is evenly distributed during the brewing process.

How to make a ristretto shot

Got your espresso maker and your coffee beans? Let’s make a ristretto! Here’s what to do:

  1. Grind the coffee: Use espresso roast coffee, about 9 grams for a single ristretto shot and 18 grams for a double shot. Grind the coffee until it’s very fine ground. Different roasts and brands of beans will require a different grind for your machine. You may need to do a few test runs to get it dialed in just right.
  2. Pack and tamp the coffee grounds: Add the coffee grounds to the espresso basket (portafilter) until it’s slightly heaping over the top. Use the tamper to press the grounds evenly into the portafilter, pressing very firmly until it is fully compressed. Place the portafilter on a folded towel before tamping, or the best tool is a knock box for tamping and discarding used grounds. It’s important for the coffee grounds to be as even and straight as possible to get the best ristretto shot.
  3. Pull the shot: Place the portafilter in the espresso machine and press the button to pull the shot using Manual mode. Make sure it lasts 15 to 20 seconds, resulting in 1 ½ ounces coffee for a double ristretto with a caramel-colored crema (compared to 25 to 30 seconds for a standard espresso doubleshot).

And that’s it! Enjoy your beautifully rich, aromatic ristretto shot. Let us know how you got on in the comments below!


Long shot vs ristretto

What’s the opposite of ristretto? A long shot, or Lungo! Italian for “long,” the lungo uses the same amount of espresso as a normal shot but is pulled in 35 to 40 seconds. The longer extraction makes it taste slightly less intense but more bitter.

What’s the better of the two? In our opinion, the Ristretto is king! Its sweet, rich flavor beats the bitter lungo any day. (But that’s just us.)

Step 3: The Brew

For the next step, you have to lock the portafilter into place and put a demitasse cup (preferably) under the ground head. Now begin the water pressure, and turn it off after around 15 seconds which is approximately half the time of a standard shot. Your resulting brew should be about 15-20 ml of a dark brown ristretto shot.

As we have mentioned in our recipe, this is a cuppa brewed in a shorter time with the same amount of coffee and less water, giving the ristretto coffee a lesser volume. Just like espresso, this shot also has a sticky and thick nut-colored coffee crema. And since the double ristretto has a lower caffeine content than a single espresso, it is a good choice for you if you are unable to consume too much but still wish to enjoy intense brews. If you enjoy this brew or desire to try something else, then head over to our website to buy coffee online and explore the wide range of exquisite flavors we offer or try our coffee crema recipe.

In conclusion, mastering the art of making the best ristretto shot is a journey worth embarking on for any coffee enthusiast. From choosing the perfect espresso roast to using sweet coffee beans, every step in the process contributes to the rich, intense flavor that defines this Italian delight. The darker roasting and extra-fine grind add depth and complexity to the brew, while proper grinding, leveling, and tamping ensure optimal extraction. Whether you prefer a long shot or a concentrated ristretto, following these steps will guarantee a truly satisfying coffee experience. So go ahead, take your time, and savor the exquisite flavors of a perfectly crafted ristretto.

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