Espresso, Americano, ristretto, cortado, and now lungo? If you’re like many people, it can be difficult to keep up with all the different varieties of espresso that you can get at your local coffee shop or make using your home espresso machine. If you’ve heard about lungo coffee but aren’t sure exactly what you would be getting yourself into if you started asking for this at your local coffee shop or making it for yourself at home, we’ve got all the information that you need about the lungo, how it is different from other items on the coffee shop menu, and how to make one for yourself.
What Does Lungo Mean?
What is lungo coffee? Let’s get started with the name of this drink. The word lungo means ‘long’ in Italian, which hints towards what this coffee drink looks like when compared with the traditionally shorter espresso. Along with being a longer drink, it also takes more time to pull compared to an espresso shot.
How is a Lungo Made?
So, what happens to make the espresso lungo ‘longer’ than an espresso? This is all to do with the amount of water that is needed to pull this type of shot. Typically, you will pull a shot of espresso using around 30ml of water for between eighteen and thirty seconds. In comparison, a lungo is pulled using double the amount of water, which means that it can take up to around one minute to pull. Because of the fact that much more water is used, this results in a much larger shot. Once it is in the mug or glass, a lungo is roughly the same size as a double shot of espresso or a doppio. However, the size of the drink is not the only factor that makes it different.
If you want to make a lungo espresso at home, you will be glad to hear that a lot of home espresso machines have pre-set options to make it, and Nespresso even offers lungo Nespresso pods that you can use to immediately and easily make this drink. The Nespresso lungo size is a little larger compared to regular espresso shots from this brand. However, if you have a machine that requires a little but more work on your part, such as a manual espresso machine, it takes a bit more work compared to Nespresso lungo since you will need to adjust the amount of water used and the pull time before pulling your shot. Leave all the elements the same as you would for a regular shot of espresso including the amount of coffee grounds that you use and the water temperature.
How Does a Lungo Taste?
Since more water is used in pulling a lungo shot, the taste tends to be milder compared to a regular shot of espresso or a ristretto. However, although this drink is weaker due to the larger amount of water used, it does tend to be more bitter compared to a regular espresso shot. This is great for people who enjoy their coffee bitter, but for some, this can make the lungo their least enjoyable kind of espressos shot. The coffee is often more bitter due to the fact that, later in the extraction process, most of the compounds in the coffee grounds that cause bitterness will be dissolved. As a result of the longer amount of time that is needed to pull a lungo, there is more time for these bitterness compounds to end up in the brew.
It is important to bear in mind that a lungo isn’t simply a shot of espresso at half the strength. Brewing coffee involves a range of different chemical processes; the flavor changes beyond simply being made weaker due to more water. A lungo will typically have more roasted and smoky notes compared to other espresso drinks. You can also get a gran lungo; the gran lungo meaning is a lungo that contains even more water – it’s about double the size of a regular lungo.
What is the Caffeine Content Like in a Lungo?
The amount of caffeine that is contained in a lungo is rather debatable. Some say that there is more caffeine in this drink compared to in a normal shot of espresso. However, the amount of caffeine that you get from any coffee drink will depend mainly on the beans that you decide to use rather than the amount of water and time that it takes to pull the shot. Both a lungo and espresso will use the same amount of coffee grounds, and since the caffeine is usually one of the first components that is extracted into your cup of coffee, it’s unlikely that there is going to be a lot more caffeine in the lungo.
If you’re looking for an espresso shot that is high in caffeine, a ristretto is likely going to be the best option for you. You can get double shots of ristretto in many coffee shops, with a double serving of a more concentrated espresso for a serious caffeine hit.
Lungo Vs Americano
It can be easy to confuse the lungo with an Americano as they are both basically espresso with extra water. However, there are some marked differences between these two drinks. When making an espresso, the barista will pull a regular espresso shot then add hot water to it. There is a similar process when making a long black, which involves adding a shot of espresso to an equal amount of hot water. Either way, the difference between these two drinks and the lungo is that the water is added after the brewing process when making an Americano or long black. This makes the drinks weaker compared to an espresso, but the flavor is different compared to the lungo, where the additional water is added during the brewing process.
Lungo Vs Espresso and Ristretto
While a lungo is considered to be a variant of the espresso, it is prepared with more water and time, and tastes differently as a result. A ristretto is another variant of the espresso that can be easy to confuse with the lungo. However, while both drinks do involve a different amount of water when pulling a shot of espresso, the main difference between the lungo and the ristretto is that the lungo uses more water, while the ristretto uses less.
Lungo Vs Latte
People who get confused between a lungo and a latte will often do so due to similarities between the names of the two drinks, rather than the drinks themselves, since they are very different. A latte is an espresso drink that is made with milk. To make a latte, you will pull a shot or two of espresso before pouring steamed milk and milk foam over the top. On the other hand, a lungo does not involve any milk and is a variant of the espresso shot. However, if you wanted to try something different, you could replace the espresso shot in a latte with a lungo shot instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still want to learn more about the lungo? These are some frequently asked questions about this drink and their answers.
Is a Lungo and an Americano the Same?
No. An Americano is a coffee drink, while a lungo is a variation on the espresso. To make an Americano, you pull an espresso shot and then add hot water on the top. On the other hand, to make a Lungo, you pull an espresso shot but use more water compared to a standard espresso, which creates a different flavor and is often weaker compared to a regular espresso.
Is Milk Added to a Lungo?
No. The two ingredients in a lungo are espresso and water. However, milk can be added to a lungo later if this is how you prefer to take your coffee.
How Do the Espresso and the Lungo Vary?
Simply put, a lungo is a version of the espresso that is less concentrated. This gives it a less intense flavor compared to an espresso, with more water required to pull this shot. The lungo is also more likely to taste bitter compared to the espresso as a result of the extra water that is added. Along with this, you can usually expect a lungo to have less crema on top.
Is a Lungo Stronger Than Espresso?
Usually, a lungo has a weaker flavor compared to an espresso due to the amount of extra water that is added. However, it can also have a more bitter taste than an espresso due to the fact that the more bitterness compounds are added due to the larger amount of water used for the shot and the longer extraction time. Along with this, the lungo may have a tiny little bit more caffeine compared to the espresso as the longer a shot is pulled, the more caffeine it will contain, as you are fully extracting the coffee grounds.
If you are looking for a new espresso variant to try, a lungo could be an ideal choice to consider. This drink is made with more water and time compared to a regular espresso shot, resulting in a ‘longer’ drink that is weaker, but often more bitter and more caffeinated. You can easily make a lungo using most automatic espresso machines, pod machines, and with a manual espresso machine by adjusting the settings.