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Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
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jester
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Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 33
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: Professional

Posted Sun Feb 24, 2002, 1:00am
Subject: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot
by Aaron De Lazzer

Is there a right and wrong time to say "Make mine a ristretto?"  The short answer is "Yes."  Keep reading for the long answer.
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Rick
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Joined: 23 Dec 2001
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Posted Mon Feb 25, 2002, 5:34pm
Subject: Stop it Aaron, you're freakin' me out!
 

Sigh.  I guess you're right.

I've ordered one ristretto in my life--at an Italian coffee bar on Commercial Drive (I won't type the name but you know it--between 1st and 2nd . . . faux-Parthenon decor and autographed pics of Italian celebrities all over the walls).  I make ristrettos at home regularly (even using JJ Beans!) because I'd rather have a shot that's too short than one that's too long.  Most of the espresso I drink away from home is insipid stuff, but the few shots I've had at the  . . . . tasted rich and deep.  So I figured, why not order a ristretto?

I walked up to the bar trying to seem low-key and not too snobbish, and asked the owner if he could make me a ristretto.  "A what?", was the reply.  "You know, a short shot that takes the same amount of time as a regular shot, but is shorter.  "Sure, if that's what you want."  It WAS--past tense.

What I got was a regular shot.  I thought I could see a faint smirk cross the owner's lips as I turned to walk away.

I don't think I'll order another, at least not in Vancouver!

Rick
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terryz
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terryz
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
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Location: Olympia, WA.
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Posted Mon Feb 25, 2002, 9:04pm
Subject: Nice
 

Very Nice
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jester
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Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 33
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: Professional

Posted Tue Feb 26, 2002, 11:58pm
Subject: Re: Stop it Aaron, you're freakin' me out!
 

Rick, you've pretty much summed up any and every experience I have ever had in this town when it comes to a ristretto shot.  Ironically the ristretto shot has this mythical quality about it for coffee afficianados yet no one out there is really quite sure what it is.  The Italians, ah the Italians.  Some of them know and some of them don't.  The ones that know seem to know only because people who ask for a ristretto are "true" coffee experts and by me knowing what a ristretto shot is (in theory anyway) I too am a coffee expert.  Most of the Italians I've talked coffee with seem to be talking out of their a$$ most of the time, relying heavily on the "Of course I know coffee, I'm Italian.  Only an Italian can make you a true caffe a la crema," or some such nonsense.  The Italians on our beloved Commercial Dr. and Vancouver in general also have a lot of secrets when it comes to coffee.  At some point in these conversations I usually end up removing my glasses and pinching the bridge of my nose to ease the pain

I know the shop you went to.  The espresso made by the father has been good in the past.  Don't ever drink a coffee made by the numbnuts that work there in the evening.

Also, kudos for approaching the situation in a humble and low profile manner.  You don't crash and burn quite as hard when you weren't flying too high to begin with.
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espressohead
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Posted Sat Apr 27, 2002, 8:32pm
Subject: The Search for the holy  grail..........
 

As far as my experience goes in the UK (pretty extensive) it is pretty damn difficult to get a decent espresso shot, let alone  a caffe ristretto. When I actually come across a barista who knows his trade it is like the meeting of two old friends and a mutual respect is encountered, Sadly, these occurrences are few and far between and I console myself with returning my full demi-tasse cup to the manager and explain what is wrong about my "espresso" before volunteering to give the staff some impromptu training (sometimes the offer is taken up!). A well known Italian Coffee producer - Caffe Vergnano (near Torino) write in their coffee guide (Gambero Rosso Editore) "Caffe Ristretto - A small serving of highly concentrated coffee. It contains less caffeine than "caffe lungo" because less material has been extrax=cted from the grounds". This I believe explains to a degree in laymans terms what ristretto is about. I don't altogether agree with Aaron about adjusting the grind, the Italian way IS to cut short the timing of the shot to about 15 seconds. That's what I do commercially with Elektra machine customers and also when at home using my Nivola.
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MD
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Posted Mon Dec 16, 2002, 4:30pm
Subject: indeed
 

I would agree completely, and that the scene in north america is often more about appearences than palate-- To appear to know about coffee is less interesting than to get a good one, to me.  In France, for example, there is a regulatory group which requires a minimal amount of coffee (something like 7 grams per shot) or you can't call it coffee.  Calling it coffee seems to be an issue of debate, here.  The problem in the states or canada is that there are so many ways you can be served a coffee, especially specialty coffee where made-up industry names abound-- that you almost do need to engage the barista in a first date to know what kind of coffee you will receive.  In italy a coffee is a coffee, unless it's breakfast time and you might get something with milk.  My point is that we use their language (ristretto) but have altogether different attitudes, similar only in appearances; appearance cut's it here, but not in italy, where it's in the cup where it belongs. (sometiomes I like to over generalize).  Thanks for the article, and your resistence to pander to the frilly ristretto orderer, I am a reformed one myself.

Micah Donovan
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prerona
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Joined: 3 May 2003
Posts: 1
Location: Kolkata, India
Expertise: Beginner

Posted Sat May 3, 2003, 11:35pm
Subject: hey
 

not a very imaginative comment title but I did like ur article. i just stumbled unto it rambling around online ... actually I had put a search for "coffee + ristretto" on google :). I love coffee. but in india u dont get to see that much variety. Well, u do actually, but its not all laid out for u to sample ... u discover something somewhere sometimes ... anyway I discovered the ristretto at a cafe in place called vizag in india. i really liked it. but for lack of info I thot then that it was ablend or something? i was in school then ... about 15 / 16. Anyway, somewhere the memry stayed behond & when I came to the us I tried to find out more about it one day & I liked it all over again ... hah hah.
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EspressoTech
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Posted Sun Nov 9, 2003, 2:01pm
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

Aaron,

great column, but I'm a little slow on the uptake.

If I'm at home with my own equipment, and my own unlimited supply of good espresso beans and time, then I want to make a true ristretto shot.

So, I need some clarification.  You're saying, get a 14g dose, and grind it so that a .75 oz. pour takes 25 seconds.  Is that right?  

What does ristretto mean?  Restricted? Or something like that?

Thanks,

Wrench.
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Javajako
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Joined: 30 Jun 2004
Posts: 1
Location: So Cal
Expertise: Pro Barista

Posted Sun Aug 8, 2004, 7:56pm
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

I have been a barista for about 5 years (a good one for 2) and have always had a passion for coffee.  It's in my blood steam and genetics if you can believe that.  

I too have only had a few requests for a ristretto, all from the same guy on different occasions.  He was enthrauled when I told him I can make a triple ristretto.  It made his day and came back the next day.  He complimented me on it to.  I admit I cheated a bit using a semi automatic La Maz.. machine and not adjusting the grind but my company has strict standards and I've been yelled at enough.

I preffer standard 2x espresso shots or lungo's if I'm traveling a long distance.  Recently I have been on the East coast in Western Mass and In Washington State.  It was very frusterating ordering a double lungo (not a dopeo) and being looked at by the counter help as if I was speaking some foreign language.  If you work at a cafe' then learn your terms.  I have even had to train the people by my house how to make my shots properly.  Clean the portafilter!!! This is a necesity.  Now they even show me the clean filter before proceding.

I enjoyed the article and hope to see more.  I am looking for article on how to make the perfect shot.  I like thick crema but I'm not getting desired results.  I can only change the grind on the machine I am using.  Any usefull help would be apreciated, articles are nice too.

sincerely,

Mike - aka     "Jacko"
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tonx
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tonx
Joined: 23 Apr 2003
Posts: 62
Location: los angeles
Expertise: Professional
Posted Mon Aug 9, 2004, 12:16am
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

Any usefull help would be apreciated, articles are nice too.

David Schomer has more articles than you can wave a stick at and his book Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques will help you understand your variables.

As far as crema troubles - bean freshness, improper dosing, bad grinder burrs could all be issues...
I'm curious about these "strict standards" you refer to - are you saying you are not allowed to make grind adjustments?!
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