The world of coffee lingo can get overwhelming, and you might even get judged by local coffee connoisseurs for not knowing the differences between Lungo vs Espresso! It’s coffee; you like the taste and volume, does it matter what it’s called?
Actually, it does matter. You get to understand why you prefer one better than the other, what’s the difference, and how to make it yourself!
Lungo vs Espresso – A Deep Dive
- What is a Lungo?
- What is Espresso?
- Lungo vs. Espresso Explained
- How to Make the Perfect Lungo?
- Commonly Confused with a Lungo
- Final Word: Lungo vs. Espresso
What is a Lungo?
Lungo is the Italian word for long, and it’s a type of espresso. It’s made using a regular espresso machine and the same amount of coffee but twice the water. A regular espresso is done in 18 to 30 seconds and fills up to around 1 oz (30 ml), while a lungo takes twice the amount of time to pull and comes in roughly at 2 oz (60 ml).
The lungo is made with more water ending in a less sharp and slightly more bitter flavor. It’s a taste that originated, and it’s still fancied in Europe in general. Espresso machines are either adjusted to drawing lungos, or they just let an espresso shot run longer.
What is Espresso?
Espresso is a shot of concentrated coffee made with an espresso machine that forces nearly boiling water through the ground coffee beans. It can be made with a wide variety of coffee beans, but it has to keep the same volume of around 1 oz as mentioned earlier. It’s thicker and richer in flavor.
Espresso originated in 1901 in Turin, Italy, with the invention of the espresso machine. It’s the base of all other drinks like latte, cappuccino, and macchiato. The short but powerful extraction method ensures that the espresso delivers an intense taste and aroma.
Lungo vs Espresso Explained
Espresso and lungo have basic features by which they can be distinguished: pull time, volume, and taste. They both originate from Italy, but even when made with the same coffee beans, their taste and look are entirely different. Here’s a comparison list of the two brews to help you understand better.
|~2 oz (60 ml)||~1 oz (30 ml)|
|Slightly more caffeinated than espresso||Less caffeinated|
| – Rounded flavor|
– More bitter
| – Flavor is more intense|
– Less bitter
– More bright
|– Lighter in color|
– Less viscous
– Less crema
|– Regular color|
The espresso is a shot is around 1 oz or 30 ml in volume. The lungo is approximately double the volume, 2 oz or 60 ml. This is the first sign by which you can tell an espresso from lungo even before you taste it. The espresso is just a sip or two, while the lungo is a full small cup.
Espresso is known for the high caffeine content per ml, while the lungo has less caffeine per ml. But the lungo is larger in volume resulting in higher caffeine content per cup. The caffeine content depends on the bean type and the final beverage if you’ll be adding more water or milk.
- Nespresso OriginalLine: ~ 80mg per capsule
- Illy Pods: ~ 70 – 80 mg per capsule
- Nespresso OriginalLine: ~ 60 mg per capsule
- Illy Pods: ~ 60 mg per capsule
Following the original formula, the espresso is a strong, concentrated shot made from 1 part coffee and ending with 2 parts brewed espresso. The lungo is pulled longer; it’s more than twice the volume. Starting with 1 part ground coffee, lungo yields 3 times the volume of brewed espresso. The taste in the latter is less intense, a bit more bitter, and slightly less crema.
Espresso tastes more bright, full, rich, and strong. It encompasses the best of the coffee beans in a small volume. The aftertaste can even be sweet. The lungo, on the other side, is more diluted, has a more rounded flavor and an underlying bitterness. The aftertaste can be bitter if over extracted.
The espresso has a rich, dark brown, almost black color, topped with golden crema, about 1/3 of an inch thick. A good quality shot has “tiger-striped” crema. The lungo has a lighter brown color; it’s slender and has thinner and lighter crema on top that disappears promptly.
How to Make the Perfect Lungo?
If you think lungo might be your next go-to brew, why not try and make it yourself. You don’t have to be a certified barista to create the perfect lungo. All you need is coffee, an espresso machine, water, and our instructions!
Gear You’ll Need:
(a must-have for lungo)
(with 2 oz measurement)
- Medium ground coffee: 14 - 22 grams
- Water: enough for your espresso machine
- Grind your espresso beans. We find a medium-fine to medium grind works best for longer shots.
- Weigh out your desired dose of ground coffee using a scale. We typically use 18 - 20 grams for a bolder flavor but you can use anywhere from 14 to 22 grams.
- Place ground coffee in your espresso machine's portafilter. Tamp, level and begin brewing as you’d normally do.
- This where you've to pay close attention. If you have a shot glass with measurements (see above image), use the 1:3 brew ratio method. In our example, all this means is for every 20 grams of ground coffee, pull 60ml (2oz) of brewed espresso. This makes the most consistent lungo.
- Alternatively: If you don't have a way to measure the volume of pulled espresso, use a timer. For a lungo simply double the regular extraction time. An espresso takes roughly 25 seconds, so a good lungo should take 50 seconds to pull.
- Pour your lungo into a cup and enjoy!
We love a rich brew at Hey Joe but how much ground coffee to use is totally up to you. Like a bolder flavor? Use up to 22 grams. If you like your espresso more mellow, use 14 to 16 grams.
A brew ratio is a proportion between the weight of coffee grounds and the weight of the final drink. When shifting the ratio, we change the taste and strength of the espresso. You can get even more nerdy about ratios and basket sizes here.
Ristretto’s ratio is 1:1; For simplicity sake if we used 20 grams of coffee grounds, it results in 20 ml of liquid. Espresso is 1:2; 20 grams of coffee grounds and 40 ml liquid, while the lungo’s ratio is 1:3, sometimes up to 1:4.
Commonly Confused with a Lungo
Now that we sorted out the characteristics of a lungo vs espresso, let’s take care of a few more frequently confused drinks while we are at it! The two drinks we most commonly hear about are long blacks and ristrettos.
Long Black vs. Lungo
This is probably the most common confusion. The Lungo is not the same as Long Black. While they may look similar and have a mild flavor, the brew method is very different. With long black coffee, an equal part of hot water is added to the cup after the espresso is done.
Ristretto vs. Lungo
The Ristretto is the beginning, and the Lungo is the end of the espresso scale. These two often get confused since both require water adjustment. The Ristretto is the shortest shot of espresso you can get; it’s rich, flavorful, and potent. The Lungo is its distant cousin, almost triple the volume and much milder.
The Final Word on Lungo vs Espresso
There are no winners in the Lungo vs Espresso battle; it’s a matter of personal preference and taste. Those of you who are keen on earthy, mild flavors and find the espresso overwhelming would enjoy lungo. If you long for a robust feel but a sweet aftertaste, stick to the traditional espresso. Remember, it doesn’t hurt to switch things once in a while!
More Lungo vs Espresso Questions?
On paper, the lungo is basically double the volume of traditional espresso. The espresso is ~1 oz, so the lungo comes at ~2 oz. In reality, it can be anywhere between 45 to 60 ml, but often baristas stick to the 60 ml or 2 oz for reference.
If looked at per ounce level, the lungo contains less caffeine (very slightly) than espresso. But since the lungo is double the extraction time and more in volume, you consume more caffeine than with an espresso shot. So yes, the lungo, in this case is more caffeinated.
While initially, the lungo is pure black coffee, you can add milk to it once it’s pulled. To keep the taste good, brew your lungo, and add up to 1 oz of milk. This amount of milk won’t interfere with the taste of the coffee beans so much, but it will make the flavor milder.