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Triple ristretto espresso shots


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#1 phaelon56

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 09:23 AM

This discussion was split from the

THE BEST: NYC Espresso

topic in the New York Forum. As quality independent coffee houses and espresso bars become more widespread it's likely that more people will begin hearing terms like "ristretto". It refers to a "restricted pull" espresso shot - one with reduced fluid volume (relative to a regular shot). If properly made it will have an intensified flavor profile that may be denser and "sweeter" than a standard shot.

The restricted pull is accomplished by using a finer grinder setting than one would use for a standard 26 - 28 second shot under the same conditions. The flow of pressurized water through the puck of grounds is "restricted" and a comparable shot time yields less fluid. If you go into a shop that does not use ristretto as their standard shot style and they honor your request for but don't adjust the grinder....
you may actually be getting a "short pull". Stopping the shot process prematurely will yield reduced fluid volume but the characteristics of the espresso don't change.

The so-called "triple ristretto" is a bit of a misnomer but a widely used term and it's the way many of the leading edge cafe's pull their shots. La Marzocco espresso machines and other brands that can utilize the LM portafilter and basket assembly (such as some of espresso sculptor Kees van der Westen's machines) have the option to use a straight sided rather than partially slope shouldered basket. It's a bit deeper and has more cubic volume than a double basket.

A "triple" basket allows up to about 21 grams to be packed into the basket vs the 15 - 18 that most independents use in a double basket. It can yield a slightly larger fluid volume that's as rich and dense as a double but usually it's only 1/4 to 1/2 oz larger in size.

But you're so right about espresso being a fickle bride. On a bright note I think I finally stumbled on an espresso blend that's good with milk in a traditional cappuccino (i.e. a 1:2 up to 1:5 espresso to milk ratio) and also good when consumed as a machiatto or straight shot. That would make it a rare beast indeed - can't wait to blend a few more batches over the next month or so and see if it stays consistent or if it was a fluke.

#2 Carrot Top

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 09:35 AM

This discussion was split from the
THE BEST: NYC Espresso
topic in the New York Forum.  As quality independent coffee houses and espresso bars become more widespread it's likely that more people will begin hearing terms like "ristretto".  It refers to a "restricted pull" espresso shot - one with reduced fluid volume (relative to a regular shot). If properly made it  will have an intensified flavor profile that may be denser and "sweeter" than a standard shot.


Would you say that a "ristretto" might be more like the profile of a "Cuban Coffee" then?

#3 phaelon56

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 10:15 AM

No - not like a Cuban coffee. I put the word sweeter in quotes because it's a term used to describe the detectable presence of some natural sugars present in the coffee bean. Certain beans and espresso blends will have a flavor profile that is considered "sweeter" but it's in no way similar to the sweetness of a classic Cuban coffee. The sweetness being discussed is very subtle and is a natural artifact - does not come from added sweetener.

Cuban coffee or ones like those I had served to me by my former GF's father who was born and raised in Cuba can be made in an espresso machine or in a moka style pot (possibly even by using that little windsock shaped cloth filtering device whose name I can't recall).

It's typically sweetened with a generous amount of sugar that is stirred in before serving.

#4 shelora

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 11:20 AM

A barista here is soley pulling shots from what he refers to as a "crotchless" - the bottom half of the portofilter has been removed (sawed off). Have you heard of this technique?

He claims much sweeter shots, but I've always found his espressi sweeter, regardless of the crotchless flourish.
The current trend here is for double shots, but I'm sure once we all get used to this, we shall be craving triples. Ristrettos are definitely in favour over the usual espresso.
Good bit of info, phaelon56.

#5 Carrot Top

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 11:38 AM

Cuban coffee or ones like those I had served to me by my former GF's father who was born and raised in Cuba can be made in an espresso machine or in a moka style pot  (possibly even by using that little windsock shaped cloth filtering device whose name I can't recall).

It's typically sweetened with a  generous amount of sugar that is stirred in before serving.

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Somehow the taste of. . .some varieties of Cuban coffees. . .taste naturally sweeter to me even before the addition of the sugar. And there was something I heard once about the desirability (when making Cuban coffee) of forcing more air into the coffee as it was being made (I am not sure how expresso machines work, but certainly the mokas have a good amount of pressure being expended) that would make the final product almost "fluffy".

As opposed to a. . .Turkish style coffee. . .which of course is dense.

Could or would one say that the typical expresso "texture" and possibly taste, is somewhere inbetween these two. . .Cuban and Turkish?

#6 weinoo

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 12:35 PM

But you're so right about espresso being a fickle bride. On a bright note I think I finally stumbled on an espresso blend that's good with milk in a  traditional cappuccino (i.e. a 1:2 up to 1:5 espresso to milk ratio) and also good when consumed as a machiatto or straight shot.  That would make it a rare beast indeed - can't wait to blend a few more batches over the next month or so and see if it stays consistent or if it was a fluke.

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Hope you share the blend after you find out if it was the real deal or not!!
Do you blend and roast, or roast and blend?
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#7 phaelon56

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Posted 06 August 2005 - 01:32 PM

When I refer to "Cuban coffee" it's actually Cuban "style" coffee in terms of preparation. Real Cuban coffee cannot be legally purchased in the US. I look forward to the day when that changes. My exposure to Cuban "style" coffee has usually been the cafe con leche that I drink on my rare visit to Florida. BUt I did date a lovely Cuban womnan when I lived in the NYC metro area - her dad always served it after dinner in a thick, strong, presweetened form. It is less dense and concentrated than espresso but I have no experience with moka pot coffee (shocking!) and am not qualified to compare it to that.

The "crotchless" aka naked or bottomless portafilter has the bottom of the portafilter assembly chopped off. It seems to produce an increase in crema. There's lots of anecdotal evidence (much from people whose opinions I value and respect) indicatign superior shots form this method but its greatest value is as a training tool.

If you watch the espresso drip/pour from the bottom it quickly becomes evident whether there are issues with the packing/distribution/tamping technique that the barista is using. I work in a shop that uses the Swift autogrind/tamp machine. Crotchless (portafilter) is not an option for us. And I wear boxer-briefs to work should you be wondering and the suspense is just killing you :laugh: :wink:

I roast and then blend. When I was roasting at home on a machine that does 1/2 lb batches and I was drinking only 1/2 lb per week I did some pre-roast blending. But now I am roasting on a 1/4 bag machine (34 - 38 lbs per roast batch).

The only beans I blend pre-roast in the commercial environment are Swiss water process decaf. Mixing SWP Colombian and Indonesian beans works great - very even roast levels. Adding a Central American bean to the mix pre-roast - not so even.

YMMV but here's the blend I found to be very, very good.

2 parts Brazil
2 parts Organic Sumatran
1 part Mexican Chiapas
1 part Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

It was just a test with a 1/2. lb batch. I did not wrote it down - ouch - and it may have actually been 2 parts Mexican and 1 part Sumatran rather than what is written above. And I'm roasting Oraganic Papua New Guinea this week because we ran out of Sumatran. Will try it again with the OPNG but thus far I'm very happy with this blend.

I doubt that it would work well as a pre-roast blend but you might get away with splitting it into two batches - one for the slower beans and one for the faster.

#8 weinoo

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 07:27 AM

YMMV but here's the blend I found to be very, very good.

2 parts Brazil
2 parts Organic Sumatran
1 part Mexican Chiapas
1 part Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

It was just a test with a 1/2. lb batch. 

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Thanks, Owen! Will give it a try - I have Brazilian, Sumatran, and Yirga on hand, but need to resupply with green beans - are you roasting to a full city+ or thereabouts, or do you generally go lighter on 1 or 2 of the beans?
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#9 phaelon56

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 02:15 PM

I roast to a target temp on the Sivetz fluid bed roaster but we have two of them and the target temp sometimes changes a degree or a few in either direction depending (so it seems) on ambient temps, humidity levels and possibly even the gas pressure on the line at a given time.

Our preferred roasting style (that of the folks I work for but I'm in agreement with them) is lighter rather than darker. The only thing we roast past Full City is our "French Roast" (and ours is much lighter than that of many places - you fwon't typically see any oil tipping on our French Roast beans until five days after roast date).

I'm on travel at the moment but will try this blend again (this time with the Papua New Guinea) later this week.