What is a Lungo and Why You Should Be Drinking It!

6 min read APR 11, 2023

Lungo coffee, also known as a long espresso or café Lungo in Italian, is an increasingly popular choice for those who prefer their coffee with less intensity than a traditional shot of espresso. This style of beverage offers more volume and slightly less concentrated flavor compared to its shorter counterpart. It's made by brewing extra water through finely ground beans using the same method as making an espresso but takes twice the amount of time due to the additional hot water that flows from machine into cup during the process.

What's the Meaning Behind the Word?

The word "Lungo" comes from the Italian language and directly translates to 'long.' In terms of coffee, Lungo refers to a longer shot made by adding more hot water during the brewing process. This style is popular in European countries like Italy or France where people prefer milder tasting coffees with extra volume without sacrificing flavor intensity that espresso still keeps even if it has weaker solution per-unit amount.

How is it brewed?

To make one, you will use about 60mL of water to pull the shot for up to a minute. Compared to a double shot of espresso, which uses 30mL of water, the size and strength of a lungo are larger and more diluted.

Many espresso machines come preset at home with settings specifically designed to make Lungos. Nespresso even has dedicated pods designed just for Lungos. For other machines that require manual adjustments, be sure to adjust the pull time and amount of water used accordingly. Still, keep all other elements like temperature and ground amount consistent with other shots as you adjust these settings until you reach the perfect balance between extraction and dilution.

The result should be a smooth, balanced drink that can satisfy your coffee cravings without tasting too strong or bitter. A lungo provides a unique flavor profile compared to traditional espresso shots with its slightly diluted taste that still packs all of the same caffeine punch!

What About the Taste

A Lungo differs from espresso and ristretto in that it requires more water to be pulled, resulting in a less intense flavor but slightly more bitter. This bitter flavor can be attributed to the longer brewing process allowing more of the compounds responsible for bitterness to dissolve into the drink.

While a lungo may appear to simply be a weaker version of espresso, this is not strictly true, as there are also additional smokier and roasted notes present in the drink due to its unique extraction process. In short, while espresso shots may offer a stronger flavor, many prefer the milder yet distinct taste of a lungo for its nuanced and complex flavors.

What About the Caffeine?

There is conflicting evidence among coffee lovers regarding the amount of caffeine in a lungo. Some argue that due to its longer extraction time, there is more caffeine present compared to a traditional espresso shot. However, this belief does not account for the fact that both coffees use the same amount of grounds, and caffeine is one of the first components to incorporate into your coffee. Simply put, given that extraction times are the same for the two beverages, there should be no difference between their levels of caffeine.

If you're looking for a stronger caffeine kick in your cup of joe, you can opt instead for a ristretto. These shots are pulled with less water than an average espresso shot and typically serve as double shots. This means that the concentration will be twice as strong as an espresso yet still have all the flavor intensity of a regular espresso shot. Alternatively, if you don't want to sacrifice taste for potency, try making a doppio or Americano with an extra shot added per cup; this will give you more bean content without compromising flavor.

Common Misunderstandings

Americano And Long Black

The Americano and Long Black drinks are two popular espresso beverages. The distinct difference between them is how they are prepared. An Americano is made by brewing a standard espresso shot, then adding hot water to it.

For Long Blacks, the espresso is added to an equal part of hot water before brewing. This results in a weaker cup of coffee than a straight espresso shot but also produces a unique flavor profile. The smokey notes found in Lungos won't be present in these drinks since they do not involve adding water after the brewing process has been completed.

Espresso and Ristretto

Regarding espresso-based drinks, several varieties vary in taste and preparation. The difference between a ristretto and other variants, such as a lungo, is the amount of water used to pull the shot of espresso.

A ristretto reduces the amount of water used, resulting in a higher concentration of coffee and a more intense flavor. On the other hand, a lungo uses more water, producing a less concentrated flavor.

The coffee-to-water ratio for each variant is 1:1 for ristretto, 1:2 for espresso, and 1:4 for Lungo. This ratio makes it possible to achieve different tastes and levels of strength in espresso-based beverages. Ristrettos are usually characterized by their full body, bittersweet taste, and bold aroma, while Lungos tend to be milder with a smooth finish.


A latte is a delicious espresso-based beverage comprised of steamed milk and foam atop one or two espresso shots. Meanwhile, a Lungo is an espresso variant that is similar in strength yet differs in taste. When combined, these two drinks create a unique flavor that many enjoy. If you want to experience something different, you can try replacing the traditional shot with a Lungo in your latte. The resulting mix will provide you with a delightful drink full of robust flavor notes!

Wrapping Up

A Lungo is a great drink to sample if you're looking for something with smokier and earthier tones than espresso. It adds a captivating depth and complexity to any coffee beverage, from Americanos to cappuccinos. If the idea of enjoying a Lungo does not appeal to those who prefer sweeter coffees, then subbing it in for the shot of espresso in other drinks, such as latte macchiato, could be an interesting switch-up.

The intense flavor of the lungo shot would bring out the sweetness in milk-based drinks and other ingredients usually put into coffee beverages. It also provides a smooth, creamy texture resulting from steaming espresso shots, further enhancing these flavors even more. Overall, exploring this unique style of coffee will open up a whole world of exciting flavors and combinations. So if you're feeling adventurous, why not try a lungo? You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between a lungo and an espresso?

The main difference between a lungo and an espresso is the amount of water used. Lungos use more water, making them weaker than straight espressos. This results in mellower flavors with smoother textures.

Is it possible to make a stronger cup of coffee by using a Lungo shot?

You can make a stronger cup of coffee using a Lungo shot. To do this, increase the dose of beans used per shot and reduce the amount of water used in each one. This will result in a higher concentration of flavor without sacrificing taste.

Can I replace a traditional espresso shot with a Lungo in my latte?

Yes, you can replace the traditional shot of espresso with a lungo in your latte. The resulting drink will provide you with a unique flavor profile that is both smooth and full-bodied at the same time. The smokey notes in Lungos will also give your latte an extra flavor boost!

Is a Lungo more expensive than an espresso?

A Lungo costs around the same as an espresso, if not slightly less, depending on where you buy it from. It all comes down to personal preference when deciding which one to pick. Both drinks offer different tastes and levels of intensity, so just choose the one that better suits your palate.

How long does a Lungo shot take to make?

Depending on the espresso machine being used, a Lungo shot will typically take around 20-30 seconds to extract. This is slightly longer than an espresso shot which usually takes around 15-20 seconds to prepare. The extra time is necessary for the additional amount of water used in a Lungo.

Check out Lifeboost Coffee Espresso.

Drop a Comment

All comments are moderated before being published