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What is a Lungo? What You Need to Know About This Espresso Drink

Lungo is a long-shot espresso made by using twice the water as a regular espresso. As a result, it has a less-intense coffee taste but has a flavor profile with more profound and more bitter notes. A lungo should not be confused with an Americano, which is an espresso topped up with hot water.

What is Lungo coffee?

Where does lungo come from?

The Lungo originated in Italy, like many of the best-known espresso drinks. The name Lungo means “long” in Italian and refers to its having a greater volume than a regular espresso.

A lungo is also known as a long shot at Starbucks.

The Lungo has become more widely known thanks to Nespresso. Most Nespresso machines feature a lungo option, using more water to brew from a single capsule. Nespresso has also created the Gran Lungo capsule for its Vertuo machines, which allows you to brew a larger lungo coffee. 

How do you prepare a Lungo (aka Long Shot Espresso)?

You prepare a lungo in a very similar way to preparing espresso, only the extraction time differs.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Espresso machine
  • 20 g coffee beans
  • Coffee grinder
  • Coffee scale

AT A GLANCE

BREW TIME

3 minutes

YIELD

1 cup

  1. Grind your coffee beans slightly coarser than for an espresso.
  2. Fill and tamp your portafilter, and place it into the espresso machine.
  3. Start pulling the espresso shot. Continue the extraction until you reach a volume of 3-4 oz or around 35-40 seconds.

If you have a Nespresso machine, you can make a lungo by inserting a coffee capsule and pressing the lungo button.

Related: Can you make regular coffee with Nespresso?

Lungo vs Americano

The difference between Lungo and Americano is how you make it. You make a lungo by pulling a shot of espresso using double the volume of water. In contrast, you prepare an Americano by adding hot water to an espresso shot after it has been extracted. The serving size for an Americano is around 6-8 oz, whereas a lungo is 3-4 oz.

For more information, check out our guide to what is an Americano coffee.

Lungo vs espresso

The differences between a lungo and espresso are the amount of water used and the flavor this produces. A lungo shot uses the same amount of finely-ground coffee but with more water and a longer extraction time.

…you’re actually tasting more of what’s in that coffee, and more of what’s in that roast.

This results in a less concentrated coffee with more developed flavors such as caramel and nuts. A lungo coffee also enhances the natural bitterness in coffee.

Compared to a normal espresso shot, the Lungo also has a slightly higher caffeine level due to the extra time the water spends in contact with the coffee grounds.

A long shot espresso or lungo is also often confused with the doppio, which is made of double espresso shots.

Related: What is a doppio?

Lungo vs Ristretto

The differences between the Lungo and ristretto are the drinks’ taste and volume. A ristretto uses half the amount of water as an espresso, whereas a lungo uses twice the amount of water as an espresso. A lungo is a less concentrated coffee, with flavor notes tending towards nuts and caramel, with some bitterness. Another difference between a long shot and ristretto is that the Lungo has slightly more caffeine.

Need more info? Read our article on what is a ristretto.

FAQs

Lungo tastes milder than espresso, but the flavors of chocolate, nuts, and caramel are more pronounced. A lungo also has more bitterness than other coffee drinks. The difference in flavors is due to the increased time that the water is in contact with the coffee, allowing it to extract chemical compounds from the ground coffee.

You should drink a maximum of 5 lungo coffees per day, according to the recommended daily caffeine intake. The RDA for caffeine is 400mg, and a regular lungo coffee can contain around 80mg of caffeine (1). Try a decaf lungo containing around 15 mg of caffeine if you want to drink more than this.

Lungo coffee is typically served black and consumed the same way as an Americano. However, you could use it in place of an espresso shot for some cafe-style drinks including:

1. Lungo macchiato – a lungo shot topped with a small amount of milk foam
2. Lungo con leche – a lungo shot topped with an equal amount of warm milk
3. This would create a drink with a less intense coffee flavor.

  1. Caffeine: How much is too much? (2022, March 19). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678
Kashmir Brummel
Growing up in a coffee-free household, the discovery of the Moka pot as a teen was something of a revelation. I’ve now upgraded to the AeroPress for my daily brew, with a Hario V60 on hand for lazy weekend mornings.

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