Italian Coffee: What's the Difference Between Ristretto, Espresso, and Lungo?

Italian Coffee: What's the Difference Between Ristretto, Espresso, and Lungo?

  • When ordering or talking to others about Italian coffee, have you ever been confused by the fancy terms Espresso, Ristresso and Lungo? They all look pretty much the same, but what's the difference between them? How should we choose the next time we go to a coffee shop to place an order or when we make our own? Let's learn about their differences below!

 Lungo, Espresso & Ristretto

  • Espresso
  • Espresso is the quintessential Italian coffee, crafted by forcing the same amount of coffee grounds under high pressure, typically extracting 30 milliliters of coffee in 25-30 seconds. Espresso boasts a balanced flavor profile while retaining the coffee's concentration and a rich crema.


  • Ristretto
  • Ristretto is an intensely rich Italian coffee, since the extraction takes about half the time of making Espresso and only the first stage is extracted, typically made using the same amount of coffee grounds but extracting only half to two-thirds of the liquid. This results in a more concentrated and flavorful coffee. It is often shorter than espresso, offering a small yet robust coffee experience.


  • Lungo
  • Lungo resembles espresso but is extracted for a longer duration, usually exceeding 30 seconds. This leads to more liquid extraction, resulting in a relatively diluted coffee. Lungo is sometimes described as a milder coffee because it releases more bitterness during the extraction process.


  • Whether you prefer ristretto, espresso, or lungo, these options represent different facets of Italian coffee culture. Varying extraction methods and concentrations cater to the diverse tastes of coffee enthusiasts.
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