A ristretto is similar to an espresso but made with a double shot of coffee and only half the water. Just another of the innumerable ways that have been created to serve coffee - and also inspiration for this celebrated café on Nimmanhaeminda Road in Chiang Mai.
Ristr8to is touted as being one of the best coffee shops in the city, and I have to say the coffee is perhaps the best I have had anywhere. Not a big coffee connoisseur, it must be said, but I've had my fair share of quality coffee, and this café for me exceeds the mark. For flavour, variety, consistency and the skill of their baristas.
Enjoy Free WiFi and iced water while you wait for your order
I'm a soy-milk-girl, and in my experience, a lot of baristas struggle to heat and froth soy milk well - but not here. The very fact that they even serve soy coffee here is a winner, as so few cafes in Chiang Mai do, regrettably.
The soy Cappuccino made with the special Ristr8to blend
The options here are great too, not only for the variety of drinks you can order - but the coffee itself. Ristr8to sells coffee from a number of different countries - Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil, Columbia, and Thailand . They also have their own Ristr8to Blend which is a combination of Ethiopian, Papua New Guinean and Brazilian Coffee, and which aims to balance the different features of each of these to give a well-rounded flavour.
Another thing that attracts so many is that the coffees themselves are definitely 'all about the coffee'. The coffees at Ristr8to are prepared to allow the coffee itself to be the distinct star of the cup, not the milk, or other added flavours.
Along with the expected, there are a number of alcoholic coffee drinks - such as the MOFO shot. The MOFO has an alcohol content of 48% and made up of Bourbon, Kahlua, Cointreau, Cacao, Coffee and Milk. There's also a small range of iced coffees, waffles and ice cream on offer as well, if you are after something more refreshing.
I find the coffee here so enjoyable that while I generally order modest cappuccinos elsewhere, I have found that the 6 oz cups they serve cappuccinos in here are just too small. Instead I go with a more hefty drink they have called the Satan Latte - which comes in an 8 oz serve. Happy Days.
The rundown on the features of the coffee you select are provided to you when your coffee is served. And for me, this is one aspect of Ristr8to that creates the feeling of having a coffee experience - rather than just a coffee. Reading a little about your coffee as you drink it helps you detect and appreciate the flavours more, and encourages you to dwell on the character of the coffee.
Not to say this is a perfect spot. Not at all. It's too small for the large number of clientele, it's generally too noisy to work in, service can sometimes be a tad slow and the tables just aren't big enough. But despite this it's still a favourite because it gets the main thing right - fantastic coffee at prices that would only get you so-so coffee elsewhere.