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Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
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pstam
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pstam
Joined: 27 Jan 2004
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Location: Beijing
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Posted Wed Apr 20, 2005, 4:41am
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

kiwicafehead Said:

That is right on the money. Sure, it's a the barometer of quality however it's far far more frequently the fast track to disappointment. Still, fairytales do exist and if you stop kissing toads, you may never meet the prince.

Posted April 20, 2005 link


We are going to do something to promote the good taste of espresso and ristretto, in the world.  One day, people will be able to get the espresso and ristretto with really good taste, in most of the coffee shops.

That is what we are going to do.

pstam: kaffalogo.jpg

 
Peter in Beijing
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http://www.kaffa.cn/
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I am looking for the way and the place to extend our trainning courses.
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lattejunkie
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lattejunkie
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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2006, 2:36pm
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

Great article, Aaron I couldn't agree with you more!  Thanks.............Lj
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awlred
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Posted Tue Aug 21, 2007, 12:58pm
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

Can I put forward a further way to create a ristretto and please feel free to shoot me down if it is a load of rubbish.

Unfortunately my employer forbids barista staff (I.e. non-managment) from adjusting the grind, which I have tried to explain is going to result in lower quality but ofcourse, the suits don't give two ------'s) due to our training manager being completely inept and not telling them they have to keep the burrs moving when adjusting, but non-the-less it is set that we shouldn't adjust the grind unless performed by a manager and at the moment, even getting my staff not to keep the dosing chamber full is hard as hell so I devised a method to pull a double ristretto which I'm fairly satisfied with.  

I take a single shot portafilter with the single filter plate in it and put 14 grammes of grind in there and tamp it extra hard there by the plate increases extraction time by stopping the water getting through too quickly and the extra hard tamp adds to that.  I quite like the results of this method.

Just my method.  If anyone can think of anything to improve this I would be welcoming of it.

--AR
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laurelicious16
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Joined: 14 Jan 2008
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Location: Seattle, WA
Expertise: Pro Barista

Posted Mon Jan 14, 2008, 2:01pm
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

You should come to Seattle. Your perspective of the ristretto shot would come full circle.

I work for an independent coffee roaster in Seattle. Every barista at my work is required to complete rigorious training programs, be evaluated every six months and we ONLY pull ristretto shots. Every single drink. There's a timer atop our beautiful Synesso machine that tracks our shots. We taste each other's shots on shift, have cuppings every week, and aren't allowed to work the bar until we know our shots inside and out.

I feel the owners require such attention to detail for our customers above all else. I have requests for ristretto shots almost every shift and I feel it's due to our reputation. I overhear customers educating each other on what a traditional macchiato is versus what Starbucks is attemping to pass off as one. When someone asks for a doppio ristretto, customers around him will ask what he's ordered and why it's significant.

To those trying to pass themselves off as educated in the world of coffee, I say rock on, dude! At least they're interested. At least they are challenging what big business is pushing in their faces and trying to connect with this amazing world of artisan coffee. People like us, baristas employed by small business owners are lucky to be exposed to this world of culture and knowledge. Urge your fellow man, and hell, yourself to taste ristretto shots every day, to feel the subtle differences of each espresso blend on your tongue. You're privledged with such information!
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MarkPrince
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Posted Wed Jan 16, 2008, 11:41pm
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

Laura (I think) - just so you know, this article was originally written in Feb, 2002, almost six years ago?

Things have progressed a long way since then... even for Aaron!

Mark

 
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Cafetiere
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Joined: 12 Jan 2008
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Location: Milky Way
Posted Mon Mar 24, 2008, 12:09am
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

Sounds to me like an enclave of coffee snobs ensconced in "in group" and "out group" segregation.  Why would you expect ANYONE behind the counter at a retail outlet for ANYTHING to know what they're talking about?

They're working their way through college for min. wage. Or else they've dropped out of college and are working for min. wage.  The retail market just won't support the arcana. That's simple economics -- supply/demand.

 
Good coffee is not rocket science. It's WAY more complicated than that!
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Rick_Cox
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Rick_Cox
Joined: 18 May 2009
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Location: Federal Way, WA
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Posted Fri Aug 14, 2009, 1:03pm
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

Fantastic article.  I used to go to coffee shops and watch the "barista" pull shots before I ordered.  If I saw total casualness when they loaded the portafilter or noticed the shots being pulled in 10 seconds - it was game over.  There's absolutely no way I would ever order one of those drinks.  I think your buddy was pretty smart to just order a ristretto shot as a test to see if they had a clue.  As you pointed out - most don't.  

When I'm at home - I don't have to worry about finding a good barista because I make my own drinks on a very high-end machine.  But when I'm out and about and can't find a shop with trained baristas, I take it upon myself to give them free training - providing they're open to it.  I figure I can either bitch about kids calling themselves a "barista" or I can try to do something about it.
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espresso4me
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Joined: 24 Nov 2009
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Location: LA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Nov 24, 2009, 7:29am
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

Great article! I love espresso depsite never having heard of ristretto and using a sub-$100 espresso maker at home.   I came to this article after searching 'ristretto' on Google.  I had seen the word on a fancy espresso maker in the office in Austria, it was one of the choices.  Needless to say I am now hooked!! (not so much on the Austrian coffee machine's version,) but the fact I have something to seek out back in the States!  

Always seeking that perfect pour..

Woo-hoo!!
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Dhaney23
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Joined: 27 Apr 2010
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Location: Dayton, OH
Expertise: Pro Barista

Posted Tue Apr 27, 2010, 3:33pm
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

After much forum trolling for the definition of ristretto I have come to the consensus that no one has any idea what the “correct” method for a ristretto truly is. Let me give a slight background. I have been working in a coffee shop for right around a year now pulling shots all day long. I also frequent coffee shops in the area and other cities to find what I have deemed to be the “best” tasting espresso. Now enters my own theory of what makes an espresso great: a shot of espresso with the best mouthful, finish, balance of acidity, delicate balance of flavor and aroma (a mild sourness even) coupled with the stout taste of chocolate, wood, or other earthy notes.

The keyword in my personal definition is balance. Regardless of what the flavors and aromas should be, balance is key. An espresso should not have the bitterness that is typically associated with a lungo, and thus a ristretto should have even less bitterness than a traditional espresso. The only slight bitterness of a regular shot of espresso is what has led me to believe that they key to truly great espresso lays in the ristretto, with its’ almost complete absence of bitterness, but rather almost complete composition of essential oils and aromas present.
Yet, after much research on the topic, personal empirical trials, and one too many caffeine overloads, the fundamental difference appears to lay in the definition of ristretto. In Italian, ristretto, or corto, means “short” or “restricted”. Unfortunately, since we cannot go back to the original Italian coffee masters who associated this term with a shot of espresso we can only presume what the definition was in reference to. By that I mean, restricted in time of extraction, restricted in volume of grinds used, restricted in volume of liquid produced, or potentially any other typical espresso-pulling variables which could potentially effect taste? Now, I believe that we all can agree that the volume produced is to be restricted and for sake of argument, I will only refer to a doppio ristretto. To achieve the desired flavor profiles that I find the most appealing (i.e. complex) I have found that a volume of roughly .5 oz to 1 oz. for a doppio ristretto tends to produce such shots. (This seems to be independent of dosing/tamping/grind/extraction methods, and once a double gets over this volume regardless of said methods, a poorer quality shot of espresso is typically produced [in my opinion].)

The “correct” method seems to be the biggest hang-up for people. And here I will say it simply: let taste determine “correct” methodology. I have read plenty of pseudo-arguments in forums about “The Lazy Way and the Best Way” to pull a ristretto shot. Let me list method I have read about now so there is not confusion on these methods.
  1. Normal tamping pressure applied to a larger dosage of espresso grinds at a finer grind level. Extraction at the normal 25-30 seconds.
  2. Greater tamping pressure applied to a normal dosage of espresso grinds at a normal grind level. Extraction at the normal 25-30 seconds.
  3. Greater tamping pressure applied to a normal dosage of espresso grinds at a finer grind level. Extraction at the normal 25-30 seconds.
  4. Normal tamping pressure applied to a normal dosage of espresso grinds at a normal grind level. Extraction at the shorter 12-17 seconds.
  5. Normal tamping pressure applied to a larger dosage of espresso grinds at a normal grind level. Extraction at the normal 25-30 seconds.

These methods seem to be the most common, and thus I will refer to these only. Methods 1 and 4 are methods that from personal experience have yielded a very tasty drink. Characteristics that are typically associated with shots produced by these methods are stated volumes and low crema accumulation.  Mouth feel tends to yield greater body and low bitterness levels. Method 5 produces volumes slightly larger than I prefer, leading to an obviously more watery shot. Mouth feel tends to be less and bitterness increases. Method 2 yields shots with the desired lower volume, yet with too great of bitterness levels and mouth feel too low. Method 3 simply tended to produce such low volumes that it was necessary to run over the typical 30 second mark. Any such shot I refuse to drink on the basis that such long extraction times allow too much heat allowance to the espresso blend and produce a scorched taste much like smoke that is unworthy of ristretto espresso. It must be noted that during my experimentation, the same blend of espresso was used and I feel that results may vary depending on beans or blends used.

And here I feel is a huge point of interest. Shots produced with low crema accumulation have continuously tended to yield the best taste; pointing a wary finger at the age-old attitude that crema is a necessity to delicious espresso. This makes me wonder if crema really holds flavor of the espresso, an idea that occurred to me during a barista competition espresso blend search. Does crema have a psychological effect rather than a palate effect? Or is it similar to the head of a beer which holds aromas? I know the two are inextricably linked and, that being said must play some part in taste. Yet, oxygen being ground espresso’s mortal enemy and crema’s obvious physical location in relation to air and liquid, I have my sneaking suspicions about the validity of traditional biases.

Thus, in regard to the previous paragraphs I maintain that Methods 1 and 4 are both “correct” and that the meaning of ristretto is dependent solely on the barista and the customer’s personal preference of taste. In essence, let taste dictate your method, not definition.
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hoopee
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Joined: 3 Jan 2014
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Location: Seattle
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Jan 3, 2014, 8:31am
Subject: Re: Coffeegeek Etiquette & The Ristretto Shot by Aaron De Lazzer
 

Ristretto is about the flavor and richness of coffee, not the battery acid that comes out of drip machines.  Unfortunately, that's what most people think is coffee.

When I first moved to Seattle,  I lived one block away from 'Vivace' on Broadway.  I asked for a double shot.  They said all their espresso drinks had two shots as they were 'ristretto' shots.  Over the first couple of months I had espresso drinks from other shops on occasion.  I began to notice the difference. Soon after, I was hooked.  My office was in a building with three coffee shops, yet I would walk 3 blocks in the rain and cold to get the precious ristretto shots.

I think it's  like fine wine (which I know nothing about) and a $10 bottle wouldn't be much different from a $300 bottle.  But to the wine lovers, they notice every difference...the bouquet, the way it hits the mouth, the after taste.   That's how I enjoy ristretto shots.  

Since there is that Mermaid coffee chain that covers Seattle like rain, sometimes 5 shops on 4 corners, they have a ristretto button on their automatic machines.  It's not close to a real barista ristretto shot, but it's better than their regular pull.  

I'm told they teach all of their employees what it is and the difference (and there's a button on their machine).  But, most have no clue and I often end up educating them.  I was at a Upper end chain restaurant in Union Square, San Francisco and got to the counter after a 40 minute wait.   The Mermaid shop was in the hotel with about 12 employees buzzing about.  Nearly 40 people in line.  I ordered my ristretto latte, and the man said.  "We don't sell that." ... I said, 'sure you do.'  He said loudly..."WHERE IS IT ON THE MENU?"   I responded with, "It's not on the menu, just a way they make the coffee."   He screamed so loud, the hotel manager came over.....'IF IT'S NOT ON THE MENU: WE DON'T SELL!!!"  The manager asked what the problem was and I told him to please ask the actual barista (not the cashier) about a ristretto shot and she said  "Of course, it's just a button on the machine."   But the cashier was ready to start WWIII.

R.I.P. Steve, thanks for teaching me about the art of Ristretto (Vivace' for over 20 years)
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