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Home ยป What Is Long Black Coffee?

What Is Long Black Coffee?

After a full day of writing, I needed a coffee break. So I headed to my nearest coffee shop and scanned the menu, hoping to find something new. The menu board was chock full of the typical macchiatos, mochas, and lattes. But I was looking for something slightly off the beaten path. I finally settled on a long black coffee.

Read on to find out if you might enjoy it too.

Long Black coffee recipe

What Is a Long Black Coffee Drink?

A long black coffee is made by pouring two shots of espresso over 3.5 to 4 ounces of hot water. Originating in Australia and New Zealand, the long black coffee uses a slightly finer grind than espresso and packs more into the portafilter. This produces a more syrupy, ristretto-style shot.

Brewed Coffee vs Long Black Coffee and Americano

The main difference between all popular options on the complete list of coffee drinks is how they're brewed. The long black and the Americano are made using espresso, while brewed coffee is made using cloth, metal, or paper filters, as in a pour over, siphon, drip machine, or French press. Both regular brewed coffee and Americano coffee can be quite aromatic.

Another difference is in the coffee extraction. Brewed coffee is made by steeping coffee grounds in hot water or dripping hot water over a coffee bed. With espresso-based drinks, like Americanos and long blacks, a pump forces pressurized water through a tamped coffee bed, resulting in a bolder, more concentrated flavour.

Long Black Coffee vs Americano

Both Americanos and long black coffees are made with shots of espresso. However, a double ristretto is used in a long black rather than a double espresso. A ristretto uses a finer grind than espresso, a shorter brew time, and a slightly overfilled portafilter. The ristretto is then poured on top of hot water.

Adding the shot to hot water makes it more aesthetically pleasing, while the double ristretto results in a drink that's more aromatic, textured, and flavourful (1), according to Janice Chinna Kanniah, an editor at Perfect Daily Grind.

In addition, the soluble compounds creating fruity and sweet flavours will be released, with extraction stopping before any bitter, caramel, and chocolate flavours extract.

An Americano is made with two regular shots of espresso. Depending on your preference, you can pull the espresso shots first or pour them on top of the hot water for a prettier cup. James Hoffman explains the difference brilliantly in this video.

What's a Lungo?

A lungo coffee drink, or long espresso shot, is traditionally brewed for almost twice the time of a typical espresso shot. If an average espresso shot is brewed for 30 seconds, then a lungo is brewed for a minute. This can make for an over-extracted, slightly bitter shot when done incorrectly.

To avoid this, Home Grounds recommends experimenting with a slightly coarser grind than used for espresso. The ratio of extracted espresso to ground coffee will be higher, so a lungo has a less intense flavour than an espresso โ€“ similar to a long black coffee.

How Do You Find the Ideal Long Black Coffee Recipe?

Because you'll be using a slightly larger dose of finely ground coffee for your double ristretto, you'll have to dial in the extraction time and tamping pressure to get the flavour you like.

Finding the best long black coffee recipe is a matter of experimentation and following your taste buds.

Be careful you don't apply too much pressure to your tamp, or your espresso machine will have difficulty extracting anything from the compacted puck.


The difference between a short black vs long black coffee is that a short black coffee is just a shot of espresso, whereas a long black coffee has added water.

The best long black coffee ratio of water to coffee depends on your individual preference. For a strong coffee, use a 1 to 3 ratio of ristretto to hot water.

No, it doesn't matter whether you pour the espresso or water first in terms of flavour. Pouring the water in before your espresso makes the drink prettier because it maintains the espresso crema, but it has no real difference in taste.

  1. Janice Chinna Kanniah. (2020, June 15). What Is a Ristretto? Perfect Daily Grind; Perfect Daily Grind. https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/06/what-is-a-ristretto/
Iris M. Pang
One of my first childhood memories of coffee was in Montreal, Quebec. Every time my family and I walked through the mall, the aroma of fresh, brewed coffee and Belgian waffles permeated all the stores. Whatever that delicious smell was, I had to have it. And the rest is history. When I'm not writing or touring local coffee shops, you'll find me on social media, trying out different ethnic cuisine at local restaurants, and having deep discussions over coffee and pastries.

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