The beginner's guide to Lungo

A coffee shop favourite, this espresso-based drink is a staple among caffeine-seekers both at home and on the move. Sometimes known as lungo espresso, long shot, or café allongé, lungos are definitely worth trying at least once in your life and in this guide we’ll give you the full rundown on what a lungo is, how it differs from other cafe menu items, and even how to make it.

What is a lungo?

Lungo, meaning “long” in Italian in its most basic sense, is an espresso made with more water than usual (contrary to a ristretto, which is brewed with less hot water than normal). The most common recipe for an espresso is about 1:2, or 18 grams of coffee to 36 grams of water. Although this may vary from barista to barista or home brewers’ personal taste, a lungo typically has a ratio between 1:3 to 1:4 coffee to water. It takes longer to pull it and the end result is a cup twice the size of a regular espresso shot.

Once it’s in the glass, a lungo is roughly the size of a doppio or double shot of espresso. However, the size isn’t the only difference for this drink. While the amount of caffeine will stay relatively the same, the drink becomes more diluted and actually weaker by volume than a regular espresso.

What does it taste like?

In coffee extraction, fruit acids are extracted first, then sugars, and finally bittering components. Espresso takes this to the next level, and the best espresso has all three components in balance. Because you use more water to pull a lungo, the taste is much more diluted than that of espresso or ristretto (a shot pulled with half the water)

But don’t expect a dull drink - since the flavour compounds are still being extracted, a lungo shot is more developed. More water actually amplifies everything about the coffee, including its roast flavour. For that reason, it isn’t uncommon to find coffee stores choosing lighter roasted coffees for lungo drinks.

Is lungo the same as an americano or long black coffee?

It’s common to confuse americanos or long blacks with lungos since they are all espresso-based drinks with more water than usual. With an Americano, the barista is simply pulling a normal espresso shot, then adding water. Or, in the case of the long black, adding a shot of espresso to an equal part of water.

In both cases, more water is added after the brewing process and that makes a significant difference in coffee taste. Generally speaking, a lungo is closer to espresso while an americano is closer to a drip coffee when it comes to flavour.

How to make a lungo?

When it comes to espresso machines for home use there is a large range of precision, features, and price range. Many common espresso makers have a preset for lungos and all you have to do is prepare your coffee grounds just like you would for a shot of espresso and the machine takes care of the rest.

If your espresso machine allows for more customization, make sure you are able to adjust the pull time and amount of water used. If you can adjust these two settings, simply increase the ratio to somewhere between 1:3 to 1:4 coffee to water according to your personal taste, and you can make a lungo.

If milk or cream is your usual preference, you can still add it to the brew and don’t miss out on Lungo's unique flavours. For a standard serving of Lungo, add 20 ml of milk for the best results. However, if you're in for the real' Lungo experience, the best way to enjoy the brew is without any additives, or in coffee lingo: black.

What are the best coffees for a lungo?

The best way you can enjoy a Lungo is by brewing it using fresh roasted, well-balanced coffee beans. Medium roast or medium-dark roasts are ideal for this espresso variation and here are our recommendations to get you started.

With a light floral finish, notes of chocolate, caramel, and cashew Portfolio's Equilibrio blend is a very fun shot.

A distinct clean citrus, medium to low acidity, dense body, and a long aftertaste, Fazenda Cachoeira makes a memorable single origin cup — no matter how it’s brewed.

Jamaica Blue Mountain + Eldorado is full-bodied with hints of sweet herbs and a long molasses finish that highlights in a balanced espresso.


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