Starbucks Ristretto Vs Long Shot: which one should you order?

If you want to order from your favorite coffee shop with confidence and get an authentic taste experience, it helps to familiarize yourself with specific terms related to coffee so you can order like a pro. Espresso is at the heart of many coffee beverages, and I like adjusting the number of shots in my espresso drinks to get different flavors. I realized that some people do not understand the difference between the traditional espresso shot and Ristretto and Long Shot at Starbucks. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Starbucks Ristretto and Long Shot and determine which one you should order. 

What are the differences between Starbucks Ristretto Vs Long Shot?

Features/Shot

Starbucks Ristretto Shot

Starbucks Long Shot

Ingredients

Espresso, water

Espresso, water

Taste Profile

A sweeter, richer flavor with a caramelly sweet finish

Bitter, smokey flavor with a mild caramelly sweet finish

Caffeine Content/Nutritional Value

130 milligrams of caffeine in a standard serving

225 milligrams of caffeine in a standard serving

Accessibility/Availability

Easy to access every day in a Starbucks store near you all year round.

Easy to access every day in a Starbucks store near you all year round.

Roast Level

Dark

Dark

Starbucks Ristretto Vs Long Shot – How They Compare

Starbucks Ristretto Vs Long Shot

Ingredients

At Starbucks, baristas prepare the Ristretto shot with the same Starbucks Espresso Roast they use for the full espresso shot. However, less hot water is forced through the grounds when making a ristretto shot. The outcome is a smaller, more concentrated shot with a sweeter, richer flavor and a sweet caramelly finish. 

A ristretto shot has more of the flavor compounds that dissolve faster from the Starbucks coffee grounds the barista uses. The application of arrested extraction is why a ristretto shot is less bitter and full-bodied than a fully extracted espresso shot. 

Similarly, baristas at Starbucks prepare a Long shot with the same Starbucks Espresso Roast they use for the ristretto shot. However, more hot water is forced through the grounds when preparing a long shot. The outcome is a larger amount but a less concentrated shot with a bitter, smokey flavor with a mild caramelly sweet finish.

A Long shot is not as strong as the ristretto shot, but the extended period taken to pass hot water through the coffee grounds means additional flavor compounds end up in your coffee cup. As a result, a long shot has a bitterer flavor compared to a ristretto shot. 

The ingredients for a ristretto and long shots are the same (coffee and water). The difference between the two shots arises in the time taken to pass hot water through the coffee grounds. For the long shots, more time is taken, which means more flavor compound and caffeine ends up in your coffee cup. 

Regardless, both drinks have the same ingredients; therefore, this category is a draw. 

Taste Profile 

A shot’s taste is determined by its ingredients, time taken to prepare it, and the barista’s craft. 

As mentioned earlier, when preparing a ristretto shot, hot water is forced through coffee grounds for a shorter period. The outcome is a smaller, more concentrated shot with a sweeter, richer flavor with sweet caramelly notes. 

On the other hand, hot water is forced through coffee grounds for an extended period when preparing a long shot. As a result, more flavor compounds dissolve into the hot water. The resulting shot has a bitter, smokey flavor with a mild caramelly sweet finish. 

The ristretto shot wins in this category because it has a sweeter, richer flavor with sweet caramelly notes. It is less bitter than a long shot. 

Caffeine Content/Nutritional Value

Most people drink coffee because of its caffeine element. Caffeine is good because it gives the boost you need to carry out your daily routine. 

However, too much caffeine is harmful to your body. The maximum amount of caffeine for a healthy adult is 400 milligrams. 

You should consider the shot with more caffeine if you are a strong coffee lover. Conversely, consider the shot with less caffeine if you have issues with caffeine. 

The Starbucks long shot has more caffeine. A standard drink serving prepared using the shot contains 225 milligrams of caffeine. 

On the other hand, the Starbucks ristretto shot has less caffeine. A standard drink prepared using the ristretto shot contains 130 milligrams of caffeine.  

In this category, the decision will be made by comparing the number of people who take strong coffee and those who do not- due to issues with caffeine. Most people do not have issues with caffeine; therefore, the shot with more caffeine wins.

The Starbucks long shot wins in this category because it has more caffeine than the ristretto shot. 

Accessibility/Availability

Both shots are easy to access and readily available in Starbucks stores worldwide all year round. Currently, Starbucks has more than 33000 stores across the world. Therefore, both shots are available in many cities and major towns worldwide. 

This category is a draw because both shots are easy to access and available in Starbucks stores across the world all year round. 

Roast Level

The roast level of the coffee Starbucks uses to prepare its shots can either be light, medium, or dark. The roast level/profile is crucial because it determines a shot’s taste and nutritional value. 

Both shots are prepared using dark roast coffee. Therefore, this category is a draw. 

Starbucks Ristretto Vs. Long Shot: A comparison overview

Starbucks Ristretto – Overview

Starbucks Ristretto

Ristretto is Italian for restricted. In the context of coffee, that does not mean that you must be of a certain age to drink it. It only means that the barista passes a restricted or less amount of hot water through the coffee grounds for a shorter period to create a more concentrated and smaller serving with a richer and sweeter flavor. Extraction time and technique is a small change in making coffee that makes a significant difference in texture and taste. Since less hot water is passed through the coffee grounds for a shorter period, only the coffee components that dissolve quickly are concentrated in a Ristretto. Therefore, shorter extraction makes Ristretto less bitter and more full-bodied. 

I took the time to get a Ristretto, and I loved that it has a simpler flavor due to the mellow, light, and volatile components from a shorter extraction time. I also liked that it has little bitterness and less acidity. Additionally, Ristretto has highly concentrated, fragrant and fruity-sweet aromas that tempt you to inhale deeply as you sip.

Ristretto is best suited for individuals who appreciate a richer and sweeter coffee flavor, which is less bitter and acidic. 

What I liked;

  • It is a more concentrated and smaller serving with a richer and sweeter flavor.
  • It has little bitterness and less acidity.
  • It has highly concentrated, fragrant and fruity-sweet aromas that tempt you to inhale deeply as you sip.

What I didn’t like;

  • It has a simpler flavor since only the mellow, light, and volatile components are dissolved from the shorter extraction time.

Who it’s best suited for.

  • Ristretto is suitable for individuals who appreciate a richer and sweeter coffee flavor, which is less bitter and acidic. 

Starbucks Long Shot- Overview

Starbucks Ristretto Vs Long Shot

A long shot, also commonly referred to by its Italian name, lungo, is at the opposite end of the brewing process spectrum. When making a long shot, the barista passes more hot water and the extraction time is longer. A long shot is not as strong as Ristretto or a regular espresso short due to the water to coffee ratio, but the pull time is longer, meaning more flavor compounds are dissolved. I got a long shot drink from Starbucks, and I liked that it has more deep chocolate and darker flavors. Additionally, the long shot echoes its taste profile with intriguing smoky depth and darker aromas. 

A long shot is best suited for people who want to experience the bitter coffee flavors and consume more caffeine since the longer extraction time means a long shot has more caffeine than espresso. 

What I liked;

  • It has more deep chocolate and darker flavors. 
  • It has intriguing smoky depth and darker aromas.

What I didn’t like;

  • It is bitter and more acidic.

Who it’s best suited for.

  • It is best suited for people who want to experience the bitter coffee flavors and consume more caffeine.

Final Verdict: So, Which is better? – Starbucks Ristretto vs. Long Shot

Starbucks Ristretto is better than a long shot. It is so because the brewing process results in a more concentrated and smaller serving with a richer and sweeter flavor. Ristretto also has highly concentrated, fragrant, and fruity-sweet aromas that tempt you to inhale deeply as you sip. Additionally, it is less bitter and acidic.

FAQ Section

What is the main difference between a Ristretto and a long shot?

A Ristretto and a long shot are both espressos. The main difference is that the Ristretto utilizes a shorter extraction time and less water to create a more concentrated espresso shot than the standard one. On the contrary, long shot uses a longer extraction time and more water to create a less concentrated drink.

Is Ristretto more bitter than long shot?

It takes a given amount of time to reach the full bitter extraction stage, and since a long shot uses a longer extraction time than Ristretto, it is bitterer.

Which one tastes better between a Ristretto and a long shot?

Ristretto has a milder flavor profile because of its water to coffee ratio and the short extraction time. Thus, it is rich in aromatics and light tastes, with less bitterness and little chocolate flavors. On the other hand, a long shot means more flavor components are dissolved, resulting in a bitterer taste. Thus, Ristretto tastes better since it has less acidity and is less bitter.

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