I am curious as to the specs for pulling ristretto shots as well as the traditional method of pulling them? any input would be awesome.

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Dose more, cut it off early.
If you or your customer prefers the sweet spots of the espresso, just give them the middle 2/3 or so of the shot. i.e: If you like a shot at 30 seconds total put the cup under the portafilter spouts a few seconds after the liquid first drops out of the portafilter; pull the cup away well before the shot body thins out or starts lightening in color. I think many on this forum find that one shot pulled at 22-30 seconds should yield about 1 oz of liquid so your ristretto shot should be .5- .7 oz liquid.

In other words, simply put the cup under later and pull it away or turn off the shot earlier. Like Jon said. Careful, your mileage may vary.

You may ask your customer what their goal is in ordering ristretto shots. Some folks just want less caffeine; others the sweetest part of the espresso. Try different techniques and taste the results-you may start recommending a technique to those who ask for ristrettos.
This is only one "recipe" and it can not be assumed to work for all espressos, either single origin or blends. This will give you practical indicators as to what should be happening at what point during extraction. All data is to be considered a variable parameter that will need fine tuning depending on what coffee you are using, how the coffee is behaving on a particular day, and what your taste preference is.

As a rule of thumb, don't catch only part of the shot. If you execute a good ristretto, the whole thing will taste good. Also, while cutting it off early will make thicker and shorter shots, the tendency here is to severely under extract, making it too sour and tart for comfort on the palate.

This calls for the use of a triple basket, and a naked portafilter makes it much easier to notice the indicators.

1- 21 grams of coffee
2- Look for the coffee to ooze slowly from all holes in the portafilter with a syrup-like thickness (it should almost look like its running in slow motion)
3- Look for the first drop of coffee to hit the cup 6-8 seconds from the time you activate the pump
4- Look for streams of droplets to initiate from 2 or 3 (sometimes 4) points on the bottom of the basket
5- Look for the points of initiation to converge into one central funnel or cone of coffee around 15-18 seconds
6- If blonding appears before 27-29 seconds, scrap it and adjust to make it so
7- Pull the cup from the stream around the 28 second mark, blonding to appear just after removing the cup
8- Look for .75-1 oz volume (to the top of the crema)

This should get you in the ball park, but these types of shots are very easy to under extract, making them very intense and somewhat sour. If you nail it, it will be very intense, very thick, and very sweet. The last drops at the bottom of the demitasse will be remarkably sweet.

Good luck!
I think CraigK nailed it when he said to ask the customer why they order ristretto shots.
Then ask yourself, What is your opinion on ristretto? Do you really think it is the way to pull espresso?

If not then you are compromising your core beliefs in order to satisfy a customer. I am all from customer service, however, I do believe that we need to tell our customers that we do things a certain way for a reason, and to change how we pull our espresso is a reflection of who we are and our philosophy on coffee. I always encourage my customers to try our espresso first, how we pull it, and then if they are not satisfied, I'll return their money. I will mod any drink, to a certain extent, except for espresso.

If in fact you do believe that ristretto is the way to pull, then I think the best way to start is to fool around with your espresso. Some espresso's will never taste good pulled ristretto, and if anything you are doing yourself damage. If you can make it work, and you think it is the optimal way to pull, then power to you and your beliefs and you can proudly serve your espresso without feeling like your undermining your ideals.
I always judge by how it comes out of the spouts.

1. Nothing should come out for the first 10 seconds
2. At 10 seconds it should begin to drip very rapidly (and look very syrupy)
3. At 20 seconds the dripping should turn into skinny solid streams
4. Stop the extraction at 30 seconds
5. The Volume should be between 1 and 1 1/2 ounces

But keep in mind that it all comes down to flavor, if it tastes bitter then up your dose a bit and make the grind coarser. If the shot is sour then lower your dose and make the grind a bit finer.

It is also important to read the espresso's flavor profile on the bag and to know what flavor you are aiming for. If the bag of 'spro has nothing on it about how it should taste then contact your roaster.

Hope this helps!

I like Andy Schecter's take on it.
To put some accepted values into play:
Ristretto, Normale, and Lungo are all described in Rao's book in terms of: mass of the shot (denoted later as "s") relative to the mass of the puck after extraction (denoted later as "p")...
ie--- s:p
Great reference...

TampTamp Inc. said:

Rao has a good discussion about the development of the ristretto method in his book "The Professional Barista Handbook". The main difference is obviously the increase in coffee used to make a ristretto shot.

Best said.

Jon Freihofer said:
Dose more, cut it off early.

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