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Espresso is the term we are most familiar with. But there are alternatives to “Espresso” – which are “Ristretto” and “Lungo.” How you differentiate between Ristretto, Espresso and Lungo is how much water is passed through the coffee grounds. A general rule of thumb for how much water is used is 1:1 for Ristretto, 1:2 for Espresso and 1:4 for Lungo.
Espresso stays in between Ristretto and Lungo. It is the most common form of coffee brewing used as a base for latte, cappuccino, mocha, flat white etc. An Espresso takes about 30 seconds to brew and creates around 30 ml to 50 ml of coffee.
Ristretto in Italian means “restricted” where coffee extraction is restricted. It is a coffee essence with the least amount of water in all three, which leaves a strong yet lingering aftertaste. It contains 15 to 25 ml of coffee and its brew time is normally between 15 to 20 seconds. A Ristretto is essentially a less bitter shot of espresso which contains less caffeine than its two cousins.
Lungo in Italian means “long” where coffee is brewed with the increased amount of water than Ristretto and Espresso. Instead of stopping the water at the level of an espresso, we let brewing continue until 60 to 100 ml of coffee is created. The brewing time takes up to 60 seconds.