How To Make Nespresso Ristretto: What Machines & Pods To Use

Mike C
Written By Mike C

I've been writing about coffee and espresso machines for 3 years. My goal is to provide you with helpful content that you can trust based on my own personal experiences, information from manufacturers, and tips and tricks I've gathered from other coffee and espresso machine users.

I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Everything You Need To Know About Nespresso Ristretto

If you want a smaller, richer, sweeter and less bitter espresso from your Nespresso, then you should consider making ristretto. While some Nespresso models make it easier to prepare than others, you can manually reprogram any machine to make this size. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Nespresso ristretto, including how much caffeine it contains and what the best pods to use are.

What Is Ristretto vs Espresso vs Lungo Nespresso?

Espresso is a highly concentrated coffee served in a small shot. The standard size of a Nespresso espresso shot is 1.35 fl oz. However, there are two variations on this. One uses more water and is called a lungo (meaning “long” in Italian). It is 3.5 fl oz. The other uses less water and is called ristretto (meaning “restricted” in Italian). A ristretto is 0.85 fl oz.

Because it uses less water than a regular shot, a Nespresso ristretto will have a stronger, more concentrated flavor vs an espresso or lungo. Also, since ristretto isn’t brewed as long as espresso or lungo, it will taste richer, sweeter and less bitter. To make a traditional flat white, you’ll want to use two ristretto shots. I also tend to favor ristretto shots when I am making a Nespresso affogato (espresso over a scoop of ice cream) to enjoy at night.

How To Make Ristretto With Nespresso

Some Nespresso models make it easier than others to brew a ristretto. However, with a little patience you can get ristretto from any Nespresso if you really want it.

Which Nespresso Machine Can Make Ristretto?

Some of the newer and more premium Nespresso original line models have the ability to easily make a ristretto built in. The models with a ristretto button or option are:

If you are shopping for a Nespresso that can make ristretto, I have some related content that you might find helpful. I summarize the key differences to know between the Creatista Plus vs Pro and the Lattissima Gran vs Pro.

How To Make Ristretto With Other Original Nespresso Machines?

Other Original line machines do not have a pre-programmed ristretto button. The Essenza Mini, Essenza Plus, Inissia, Pixie, CitiZ and the three other Lattissima models only brew espresso or lungo. However, if you really want a ristretto with these models and you don’t want to make espresso or lungos often, you can program one of those buttons to brew a ristretto.

To program a ristretto size, first insert an espresso pod. Then press and hold either the small or large cup button (whichever one you want to replace). Release the button when 0.85 fl oz has been brewed. It may be helpful to use a shot glass with volume lines so you know when to stop. The machine will remember your settings for the button you have programmed. If you ever want to return to the original cup size, you can reset your Nespresso machine.

Can You Make Ristretto With Nespresso Vertuo?

The programming is specific to each pod size since the Vertuo uses a barcode to know how much water to add. I would suggest re-programming a single espresso pod to ristretto. This will be the lowest cost way to make it. Insert the single espresso pod, then press and hold the button to start brewing. Release the button when 0.85 fl oz has been brewed. Your machine will use this programmed setting every time that type of pod is inserted. You’ll have to press the button once the next time. You’ll only have to hold it down if you want to change the size again.

How Much Caffeine Is In Nespresso Ristretto?

A standard Nespresso pod brewed as an espresso shot will contain between 55 and 65 mg of caffeine. Because a ristretto uses less water and is extracted for a shorter duration, it will have less caffeine vs an espresso. Nespresso doesn’t state publicly anywhere how much caffeine will be in a ristretto pour since for most machines it is not a standard size. However, given that the ristretto is 37% less volume than espresso, we can estimate that the Nespresso ristretto caffeine content is somewhere between 35 and 45 mg.

Which Nespresso Ristretto Pods To Buy?

Inspirazione Ristretto Italiano

Nespresso Inspirazione Ristretto Italiano
Inspirazione Ristretto Italiano

The most classic Nespresso capsule for a ristretto is Inspirazione Ristretto Italiano. It comes in decaf and regular. Ristretto is a strong and powerful espresso that is inspired by Italy’s coffee culture. You will notice a mix of fruity notes and a hint of acidity as you sip this blend.

Third Party Capsules

You can also find ristretto capsules from third party brands online. These include Peet’s Coffee, Lavazza, L’or and more.

Other Nespresso Pods

If you take a look at the side of your Nespresso espresso pod sleeve, you will note that some also show a lungo cup or a ristretto cup. Therefore, even though these pods are marketed as being for espresso, you can also use them to make a great ristretto. While there is a range of intensity levels, most of them are dark.

Original PodIntensityFlavor
Firenze Arpeggio9 (Dark)Roasted, Cocoa & Creamy
Firenze Arpeggio Decaf9 (Dark)Roasted, Cocoa & Creamy
Caramel Creme Brulee6 (Medium)Caramel
Cocoa Truffle6 (Medium)Chocolate
Istanbul8 (Dark)Nutty & Ripe Fruits
Palermo Kazaar12 (Dark)Intense & Syrupy
Miami9 (Dark)Cereal Notes & Tobacco Aroma
Roma8 (Medium)Woody & Cereal
Vanilla Eclair6 (Medium)Vanilla
Original Nespresso Pods That Can Be Brewed As Ristretto

Vertuo Pods

As mentioned above, there are no ristretto specific pods for the Vertuoline. If you want to try to re-program your machine to brew a ristretto volume, I would suggest on the medium or dark intensity single espresso pods.

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