How Do You Brew Ristretto or Long Shot Espressos?
Because both brews are types of espresso, they begin on the same path.
Espresso is the result of hot water forced at a high pressure through a cake or puck of coffee grounds. An excellently pulled shot is produced with the right combination of grind, temperature, pressure, and time. Of course, there are other variables that will change the flavor profile of an espresso shot: the type of coffee bean, how fresh it is, where it's from, the list goes on.
To create the perfect cup, espresso requires a finer grind of coffee. This is because a finer grind will increase the resistance between the pressured water and the beans, which catalyzes the coffee to dissolve into the drink we all know and love. If the grind is too coarse, the water will flow right through and produce a very diluted espresso.
While the 4 keys formula is required to brew espresso, espresso and espresso recipes have evolved over the years, with baristas crafting their own techniques to achieve their desired taste.
However the following is the traditional Italian recipe: to produce an espresso shot, water that’s been heated to 200℉ is run through 7-9 grams of ground coffee at 9 bars of pressure for 20-30 seconds. This usually yields 1 ounce of espresso. A double shot of espresso is 18-22 grams of coffee and is usually around 2 ounces.
For a ristretto, the time cuts in half; for a long shot, the time doubles (or slightly less than doubles). This methodology has been passed down through the decades, slowly optimized for flavor and aroma.
Espresso in the Making: A Brief History
So, what is espresso and where did it come from? Unlike regular coffee, espresso is only a few generations old. This potent drink came about in the early 1900s when coffee was booming across Europe and inventors were rushing to find faster ways of producing coffee to meet demand. While there were many machines created, Angelo Moriondo created a steam machine for quickly producing coffee in 1884.
Next came Luigi Bezzera and Desiderio Pavoni. Bezzera took inspiration from Moriondo’s original boiler design and patented a smaller unit for producing a single cup of coffee. However, because Bezzera lacked the money to mass produce his invention, it wasn’t until Pavoni stepped in in 1903, bought Bezzera’s patent, and worked with him to improve his invention that the first “cafeé espresso” was revealed at the 1906 Milan fair.
Several other inventors built upon the steam-power espresso machine, including Milanese café owner Achille Gaggia, whose invention increased the pressure at which water was forced through the coffee grounds, introducing the concept of coffee “crema”—the foam floating over the shot.
This type of espresso method is still seen in today’s coffee shops, whether it’s for ristrettos, lungos, or traditional espressos.