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My intuition tells me the difference in caffeine content will be slight to non-existent between regular shots and ristretto shots. But perhaps I'm not adequately accounting for the reduced volume. And I don't actually know the little details that might contribute to an educated guess.

Which part of the pour has the highest concentration of caffeine? What are the temperature and pressure ranges within which caffeine extraction is most effective? Does the color of the crema indicate anything about the caffeine levels in a single shot?

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Well first off what is your definition of ristretto? It's very frequently misunderstood to mean simply a short shot of espresso, when really it's all about your coffee to yield ratio. Ristretto styled shots range somewhere in the 1:1 to 1:1.5 range (arguably). For example if you put in 18 grams of coffee, and then yield out 20 grams of espresso (1:1.1)- then you are somewhere in the land of ristretto.

What does this mean as far as caffeine goes? There is no difference at all. Whether you are pulling a normale or a ristretto shot, you still want an extraction somewhere around 20% of the original coffee mass. This means that you are extracting the exact same amount of coffee, but simply putting that into a smaller amount of water.

The other thing to look at is that caffeine is one of the first compounds that is extracted in the extraction process. So even if you decided to pull the shot a bit short and under extract it, you should still have the same caffeine content.

I'm sorry I have no sources or citation. I hope this helps!

  • My definition of (true) ristretto is: stop the pour before the white overextraction stain, ideally not showing any light spot in the crema where the drips fell. – luser droog Jun 18 '16 at 5:47

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