Ristretto is a short shot of espresso coffee made with the normal amount of ground coffee but extracted with about half the amount of water. Traditionally, a ristretto is extracted using the same amount of coffee grounds and water as a normale, but reducing the time to brew it. The result is a concentrated espresso with a different flavor and taste profile, and slightly lower caffeine content.
The “God Shot” is defined as a ristretto pulled perfectly. Ristretto packs in more aroma and it has a more intense flavor, which makes it the favorite of many espresso lovers.
In recent times, the ristretto has fallen out of popularity because, in order to pull a perfect ristretto, the settings in an espresso coffee machine and grinder (such as grind size, brew time and water volume) need to be adjusted, and this isn’t practical for busy coffee shops.
The ristretto is the counterpart of the lungo, which is an espresso shot that is pulled for longer than an espresso and is left in contact with the coffee for more time, creating a longer, more bitter beverage.