While espresso is the base for many coffee drinks, in our thoroughly modern times, you may often also see lungo and ristretto on a coffee shop or espresso machine menu. If espresso means expressed, doppio means double, and cortado means short, it’s a fair bet lungo means long, specifically long black.
That’s not to say ristretto, lungo and espresso are identical; far from it. But what is a lungo? And why choose a lungo over a latte, or a cappuccino, an Americano, or “ordinary” espresso?
What Is Lungo Coffee?
Like so many of our favorite coffee drinks, a lungo starts with a good espresso coffee. A shot of espresso is made by forcing around 1.5 fluid ounces of almost boiling water through the coffee. The coffee is finely ground and firmly packed or “tamped”. It normally takes around 30 seconds to produce espresso.
For a lungo coffee, more or less double that brewing time. Use the same amount of ground coffee as for a single espresso shot, but around twice the amount of water. It takes longer for the hot water to filter through.
The resulting beverage has a bitter edge. In terms of size, a lungo is about the same as a doppio or a double shot of espresso. It’s a larger drink in terms of volume of liquid – think of it as a larger, “bitterer” espresso. Find more at CoffeePidia.
Lungo: The Bigger And “Bitterer” The Better
That bitter edge is the whole point. Many coffees are very mild in flavor. With lungos, however, the more bitter the flavor, the better the drink. Why is a lungo more bitter?
That’s due to the extraction method and the extraction time. The longer it takes water to filter through the ground coffee, the stronger the taste.
- source: coffee-channel.com
How To Prepare A Caffe Lungo
It all starts with the beans. You might already know the two main types of coffee beans grown around the world, from the gentle shores of Hawaii to the misty mountains of Columbia. Arabica beans usually produce milder coffee. As their name suggests, Robusta varieties produce very strong flavors.
So select your beans carefully; the fresher the better. With your own grinder, whole beans may be a better option. Alternatively, find a local coffee merchant or supplier where you know the coffee supplied is as fresh as possible.
You might not realize it consciously, but it’s all about the math when making the perfect cup of coffee. Tastes and approaches vary around the world, but for espresso, the general rule is, the finer the grind the better. The same applies to a cafe lungo. Use the same amount of coffee as for an espresso, but double the amount of water.
For the perfect cup of espresso, lungo or ristretto, use the following ratios. For a lungo, use around 1 part coffee to 4 parts water. For espresso, use 1 part coffee to 2 parts water. And for a ristretto shot, use 1 part coffee to 1 part water.
Or just pop a pod or capsule from a major single-serve manufacturer like Nespresso. Especially if time is of the (coffee) essence.
Flavor Differences And How to Use Them
Wondering why lungo is typically more bitter than an espresso, or even a ristretto? It’s not only about the math, it’s about chemistry and extraction time. The coffee components that produce the bitter flavor dissolve later in the brewing process. The longer the brewing process, the more acrid the flavor.
Not only do most lungos taste more bitter than espresso, there are often slightly smoky undertones. The final taste, however, depends on many factors. When sniffing out your perfect blend, your palate is unique. Some prefer flowery flavors or hints of citrus; others like a nuttier or more chocolatey aroma.
The general advice is that darker roasts are more suitable for espressos, lungos, and ristrettos. Bear this in mind when selecting those coffee beans.
Difference Between An Espresso, Ristretto And A Lungo
How do you understand the difference between espressos, lungos, and ristrettos? After all, they’re all forms of espresso, right? Well, yes and no. The brewing method and choice of beans can both make all the difference to the result.
One of the joys of an espresso is the glorious crema on the top – that lovely, brownish foamy crown. An espresso is your basic strong coffee drink. A lungo is a larger, more watery, more bitter long shot espresso variant. A ristretto is shorter, more viscous, often fruitier-tasting.
Nespresso Lungos: The Lowdown
Speaking of variations on a theme, what is Nespresso lungo, exactly? (Or lungo Nespresso if you prefer.) The vivalto lungo is a mid-range, mid-roast blend of Arabicas from South America and East Africa, with hints of cereal, flowers, and wood. And if you’re wondering about the Nespresso lungo size, it’s a factory preset of 3.75 ounces.
If that’s not quite the flavor mix you wanted,, and you’d rather have a milder option, the slightly less strong linizio lungo will suit you well. The predominant note in this blend of Brazil Bourbon Arabica beans and Columbian Arabica.
Vivalto lungo is crafted from a slightly more intense roast than the linizio lungo. This beverage combines Arabicas from South America and Ethiopia. A Brazilian “Cerrado” provides the characteristic lungo bitterness.
Since we all know breakfast is the day’s most important meal of the day, you might like to consider an envivo lungo for your morning cup of joe. Seeking ultra-intense flavor? Try the fortissio lungo. The name hints at the strength of this beverage, mingling Arabicas from southwest India and Columbia for smooth, malty toasted tones.
Lingering Lungos – Which One To Choose?
The gorgeously intense flavor of this full-bodied, beautifully bitter blend with hints of caramel helps you start the day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Lungo blends available include gran lungo.
Lungo vs Espresso vs Ristretto: Which is Strongest?
Which of these three drinks is strongest? It depends very much on the beans. Let’s look at some espresso vs lungo differences. Espresso is strong and sturdy. Ristretto has the thickest consistency and strongest taste, tending towards a fruity flavor. The lungo is the weakest-tasting, but also the most bitter.
The beans also affect the caffeine content. A typical 8 ounce serving of, say, Americano coffee usually has around 100 milligrams of caffeine. A typical single espresso shot usually has around 30 to 50 milligrams of caffeine. Due to its small size, despite its intensity, a ristretto is usually the lowest in caffeine of our terrific trio of espresso variants.
Lungo Coffee Conclusions
To sum up, an espresso is the classic coffee base. Ristretto is smaller and more intense-tasting, about half the volume of espresso. What is coffee lungo, then? A lungo is a longer, more watery coffee, more bitter-tasting due to the brewing time.
So whether you’d rather enjoy an espresso, relish a ristretto, or luxuriate in a lungo, it’s over to you.
Hi my name is Larry, a coffee aficionado from the US. I have already visited Colombia, Sumatra, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Jamaica in my pursuit of finding the best-tasting coffee beans. I currently write from Bali and enjoy the relaxed life that you can only find in Canggu. Welcome to my coffee world!